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This is Capitalism: Up Close, Inspired, Explained

Nov 10, 2021

Patricia O’Connell interviews Ramy Gafni about Ramy Cosmetics, LLC. They discuss how he began in law school but realized his heart was in beauty school, how he started his career in photoshoots and retail and moved to an upscale salon until cancer and chemotherapy changed his appearance and cost him his job. Ramy discusses the steps he followed to continue receiving an income, including opening a private studio, creating a product line for cancer patients, and writing two books on beauty, how he won over a manufacturer and landed his first cosmetic client.

How did Ramy become the “go-to guy” for brows?

Listen in to learn more about Ramy Cosmetics LLC and the surprising path to becoming a cosmetics entrepreneur.

Key Takeaways:

[:29] Patricia O’Connell introduces Ramy Gafni, makeup artist, author, and CEO of Ramy Cosmetics, LLC, a company that uses cosmetics to bring out your best eyebrows.

[:52] Patricia welcomes Rami to This is Capitalism: CEO Stories.

[1:21] Ramy dropped out of law school and moved to Australia, where he went to beauty school. His parents were hoping he would go back to law school. He wrote a letter to his parents about going to a beauty school. He talked to his parents after sending the letter and they were very supportive. He took his studies seriously.

[2:11] Ramy returned to New York to pursue a career as a makeup artist in photoshoots and retail. He got hired as makeup director at a Fifth Avenue salon. That was the job that put him on the map. He started doing eyebrows and working on celebrities. He developed a makeup line for the salon.

[2:45] Vogue wrote Ramy up in a story about eyebrow obsession. The article dubbed him the “go-to eyebrow person” in New York. Other articles linked him to eyebrows, so he went with it.

[3:24] Then Ramy developed Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He worked every day during five months of chemo. He was about to start radiation when the salon fired him because of his changed appearance. Another top salon called him. He went to meet them, but having gone through chemo, he didn’t look like his picture. They didn’t hire him.

[4:33] Ramy realized no one was going to hire him while he looked like a cancer patient. He had taken his Rolodex of clients with him and started mailing to his clients to come to his private studio. Many of them came.

[5:45] Ramy kept getting written up in different magazines and newspapers as the eyebrow guy. That sent new people his way. His business was thriving; he was never busier. Ramy was also working as a freelance makeup artist and he got a gig for ABC Television doing makeup for a PSA for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

[6:17] Ramy decided to create a makeup line, using his experience of creating a makeup line for the salon that had hired him. He started with 12 products, selling them to his brow clients. He called the department stores, and Bergdorf Goodman returned his call. They called him in for a meeting every three months.

[7:03] Ramy was doing the eyebrows for the editor-in-chief and the staff at InStyle magazine and they gave a placement to his product line in the “What’s Hot Now” feature of the September issue. Ramy took it into Bergdorf Goodman and asked for a counter. They gave him one.

[7:45] Ramy talks about spending a year of his life going through cancer. You have to forge ahead, one day after another. He felt that if he could get through cancer, he could get through anything. He was happy to be alive; he was happy to be working and have an income.

[8:05] The buyer at Bergdorf Goodman asked about his numbers. Ramy didn’t know what she was talking about. Bergdorf was good to him and gave him an education about running a counter.

[10:02] Ramy talks about Ramy Beauty Therapy. It began with a concealer he used to hide the effects of his chemotherapy. This led him to write a book to address the appearance of the physical effects of chemotherapy.

[11:49] Cosmetics are often superficial, but for a mother to be able to make her skin look healthy for her children while she is taking chemotherapy is incredibly empowering. Beauty Therapy came in to meet that need. When you look good, you feel good.

[13:20] is what saved Ramy during the pandemic. Ramy has always been known for eyebrows; his top seller is the Perfect Brow Wand. The online sales never slowed down for that product. Ramy also sells a mask gel to prevent acne from masks. It was featured on the Today Show and was a big hit for his business.

[14:50] Ramy has been in business for almost 25 years. He was sometimes torn between continually working with clients and focusing on his product line. A collision where he was run over by a moped required therapy and surgery for him; for some time he was unable to work with clients. So he relied heavily on the product line.

[17:18] As a diabetes patient, Ramy is also nervous about getting COVID-19 from a client, as it is very close work. He has caught the flu several times from clients who assured him they were “not contagious anymore.”

[18:27] Ramy started his business on a frayed shoestring budget. There was no capitalization. Ramy tells how he sold his plan to a Canadian manufacturer. It was a husband-and-wife team and the husband was also a cancer survivor. After three solid days of negotiation, they had a deal if Ramy didn’t come back tomorrow!

[21:15] On the same trip to Toronto, Ramy also landed his first client, an upscale hair salon, that dropped a high-end product for Ramy Cosmetics! They threw a huge launch party for Ramy Cosmetics, which was amazing! It was a nice beginning for his business!

[23:02] Ramy comes up with the clever names for all his products, except for two names he got from a close friend when he was having a creative block.

[25:48] Ramy’s business began as something to do until he could find another salon job. Eventually, he found his business was his job. Ramy never had a business plan, but a lot of “dumb luck”! As he started with Bergdorf Goodman, the salon that had fired him went out of business. Ramy is the last man standing!

[27:24] Patricia thanks Rami for joining This is Capitalism: CEO Stories.


Mentioned in This Episode:

Ramy Gafni
Ramy Cosmetics LLC (



Ramy Beauty Therapy

Ramy Gafni's Beauty Therapy: The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Great While Living with Cancer, by Ramy Gafni

How to Fake Real Beauty: Tricks of the Trade to Master Your Makeup. By Ramy Gafni