Our Friend of the Week – Brandi Alexis D’Amore
Brandi is our trusted beauty industry aficionado who has introduced us to some of the best selling products in beauty history long before they hit the mainstream. She’s always been an avid supporter of what we did at our previous company and what we do here at The What. She’s a reluctant front person so we’re thrilled she agreed to come out from behind the scenes and answer our 11Qs.
Your City: Los Angeles
Brandi’s What — “Liquid Gold by Mary Schook. I love the Cell Quench serum which provides superb deep hydration. Also her Radical C powder is one if the most effective versions of C I have used, and I really like that it is in powder form that becomes fluid on contact with skin. (Bonus: doesn’t need to be checked with luggage).”
FRIEND OF THE WEEK: 11 QUESTIONS
FACEBOOK: BRANDI ALEXIS D’AMORE
1. Nickname: B/Bee. “B” is clearly the first initial of my first name, and I have a significant knowledge and affinity for bees, both scientifically and esoteric. Also because of my consumer testing and science communication background, I also have a nickname of Dreamkiller. Oh, and The Cleaner because of my crossword skills.
2. What’s your short story? Oh where to begin? In 2002, fewer than 9 months after 9/11, and also pre-occupied with my step-mother’s cancer, things had to change. I looked at my skills in Quality Control–mechanical drawing, science and writing–and began to volunteer my services for consumer application testing, efficacy testing, and information gathering and dissemination concerning beauty & wellness products. Eventually, through word of mouth, I was contacted for my services instead of the other way around.
I was exposed to some wonderful products and ingredients and wanted to share my knowledge with other people. So, I began contacting the Beauty Departments at various online and print publications (this is how I connected with Gina Pell years ago). I provided many quality product recommendations and eventually those departments started contacting me to see what new stuff I could find, often giving me a theme (pumpkin extract! Gold!) or a concept, some new science theory to follow up on. Eventually, I started looking at retail to see if they could bring the products that passed my muster to market. So for people in the know, I’m kind of this under-the-radar trend spotter, influencer, connector, and my favorite moniker: pollinator, which means I buzz around many different products then help germinate them into being. For better or worse, I am not on anyone’s masthead, but the benefit is that I am not beholden to advertising dollars. My decision is fair and tested. Because of this, when I present to makeup artists, hair dressers, aestheticians, and celebrity gift lounges, they know I am not pushing the way a PR company may. This is most fun around awards season. I have a few good treasures this year that may wind up on celebs. I also get to read data–looking at real science studies where I can tell people what works and what doesn’t and whether or not it’s cost-effective. I often have to correct information on Facebook about beauty and nutrition. And I’m glad that people believe me when I give them the information.
3. What’s your jam? Since I take so many dance classes, music is so important. It’s impossible to stick to one song, as I could be doing choreography to up to 4 different songs in the same week! However, in S Factor, where upper levels free dance to their own songs, we talk about your “husband song,” which is the song that, no matter what, you can always connect to. Right now I’m going through a string of boyfriends songs. However, I’d have to say right now my “boyfriend” right now post-election is Radiohead’s “Talk Show Host.”
4. What motivates you? I strongly believe in the concept of “if not you then who?” when it comes to social or civic causes. I am very involved in matters that affect Los Angeles housing, homelessness, development etc.
5. Who do you think you’d have great friend chemistry with?? Mary Norris, copy editor of The New Yorker aka the Comma Queen. She covers all aspects of language and how it is morphing. Her video series is in its second season. I feel like she recognizes that grammar and language are the scaffolding of civilization and I appreciate that.
Also, Wendy Murdoch post-divorce has remained a significant presence. She, like me, seems more comfortable being in the background but we are both excellent at putting people together to create synergies. I’d like to think we have the same ability to see connections through a vast background of random knowledge then apply it to help people in our lives.
Oh, and Will Shortz, Crossword Czar for New York Times. He created his own major at College in Enigmatology, which is the study of puzzles and code. I truly love puzzles and code. I imagine we would have a really fun time playing a game of Myst
6. What qualities do your favorite friends have in common? They pursue the things they love and turn them into vocations–they’ve somehow figured out a way to earn money from the things they’ve always wanted to do and did well.
7. What’s the smartest, most inspiring, awesome thing you’ve read, watched, or listened to? Hollywood proper actually has several neighborhoods within it. I am very involved in our little hamlet and the whole of Hollywood on a civic level. Through that and our recent forum of tenant rights and over-development, I became acquainted with Elvina Beck and her attempt to obtain a grant for her Podshare model for homeless youth and transitional housing. Her accomplishments and aspirations are commendable. What this young woman is doing is a unique commercial and altruistic blend.
8. What whets your appetite? Damiana Guaycura Liqueur. An apéritif and digestif originally made in Baja with the medicinal and sexual health herb, Damiana, this herbal beverage has an almost 500 year history. It’s a Mayan version of Chartreuse, as both are herbal, medicinal beverages, but much better tasting. It has aphrodisiac properties because the herb is connected to legitimate genitourinary female health, and the plant is in the same family as marijuana, but has different bodily effects. I bring it to celebrations as it is good luck, and the bottle gets people talking. I think it helps even if it’s a placebo bring on sexy vibes. It’s good cold or warm, on its own, or substituting Damiana instead of triple sec for an amazing margarita. And when it comes to food, a dish that never fails to make me hungry (even if I’ve already eaten a full meal) is an Italian Dish of chicken and vinegar peppers.
9. What’s next on your To Do List? I have a serious bureaucratic quagmire going on with the DMV. For 30 years I have been told that it is not possible to have an apostrophe on the license. Does this make sense to anyone? But I accepted it. Two months ago I received a notice that I failed to appear for jury duty. Turns out because the DMV refused to acknowledge the apostrophe in my last name (D’Amore) I was receiving summons under both my correct spelling and the DMV spelling. So the city of Los Angeles has told me that I need to get that fixed and for 2 months I have been trying to do so. I was finally successful which blew my mind when the last person easily put the apostrophe in. But now I have an AKA on my record for my old last name which wasn’t my last name to begin with. The DMV makes the movie Brazil seem like a Utopia.
10. How are you friends with Gina + Amy? Well I think I’m going back ten years or just shy of 10 years. I had an arsenal of beauty and wellness products and I contacted Gina, who was then the Content Chief at Splendora, to write about it. I can’t remember how I found Splendora but I loved Gina’s voice in the beauty industry so much that I felt I just needed to have her discernment and approval on products that I enjoyed as well. And it has grown from there. Gina and Amy are still first on the list of people I contact when I like something.
11. What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Honestly, the best advice I ever got was from Gina herself. A couple of years ago I applied for an on-board writer’s residency on Amtrak railroad lines. However, in completing the application they clearly wanted someone with a significant social media following. I did/do not have a very large one. So I asked Gina if it was worth doing and she said “Absolutely!” but added that whatever I lacked in social followers, my expertise and authenticity spoke for itself. It was a good reminder that she, and other editors, don’t judge me by followers but by a knowledgeable voice that is persuasive and compelling. I’ve tried to hold on to that over the years.