Debbie Doerrlamm, licensed nail tech and the creator of BeautyTech.com, passed away June 9. Doerrlamm, 62, was the first to bring the world of nails to the web. In July 1994, Doerrlamm started her online empire with a message board for techs on AOL. One year later, she launched BeautyTech.com, the first website for nail professionals. “This was the first virtual offering in our industry, and it was successful due to Debbie’s commitment and her willingness to stick with it, despite some difficult times,” says Janet McCormick, owner of Nailcare Academy in Fort Myers, Florida. “She was a huge contributor to the education of our industry through BeautyTech.com.” Here, nail professionals share their memories of Doerrlamm and what made her a true industry innovator.
“I’ll never forget the day I discovered BeautyTech.com. The internet was such a new thing and the nail tech chat room was my first experience with chatting. I couldn’t wait to log in and chat with all the amazing industry professionals that were there. I learned quickly how important it was to know what you were talking about! But, this is my best Debbie story: In 1997, I was at my second Star Nail Educator training, held at Trump Towers in Atlantic City, and Debbie was invited to attend. One night, we all walked to a casino and, once inside, I spied a [slot] machine I wanted to use. However, a woman was standing in front of it. I patiently and silently waited. Then, Debbie walked up beside me, looked at the woman and promptly said, “Hey, are you going to play that machine or just stand there all day?” The woman apologized and moved, and Debbie put in one quarter and won $400. She taught me a valuable lesson that day: I should have spoken up, rather than silently waiting. My only regret is that I never shared that story with Debbie. If given the chance, I would thank her for all that she did with BeautyTech.com. —Elaine Watson, CEO and founder of Nailebrity in Los Angeles
“Debbie was talking about the internet even before we really understood what it was, and she started a chat room before [anyone] knew what that was. Every Sunday night, techs would come to the nail tech chat room and talk about products, etc. What’s more, she was the person who convinced me to get a business email address! Debbie was a true pioneer in the nail industry.” —Jewell Cunningham, NAILPRO Competitions global director
“I first “met” Debbie through BeautyTech.com in October 1997. I had just left my career as a corporate controller and I had enrolled in beauty school. I was searching for information about being a manicurist and came across her website, her group emails and her Sunday night chats on AOL. The following year, fellow tech, Karol Singleton, and I organized a [group] of BeautyTech.com nail pros at the Premiere Beauty Show and it was the start of an amazing [annual] networking event. Debbie fostered the first internet group and created a community like never before seen in a beauty industry discipline. She was bold and brash and “swung her Louisville Slugger” whenever anyone got out of line on the boards or in the email group. There was no one like her before and there will never be anyone like her again. — Karen Hodges, aka “keyzkaren,” owner of Morning Glory Beauty, Fort Myers, FL
“When Debbie first started BeautyTech.com, she called several [industry players], including Doug Schoon, Vicki Peters and me, and asked if we would join to support its launch. We all believed in the benefits of her efforts and joined her. It went every well, and many times she had well over 400 [followers] who were interested in building the industry, discussing issues and asking questions. She was a huge contributor to the education of our industry through BeautyTech.com. She will be greatly missed. —Janet McCormick, owner of Nailcare Academy in Fort Myers, Florida
[IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Facebook, Debbie Doerrlamm ]