Born and raised in New Jersey, Catherine Bailey worked with Mack Trucks after graduating from Katharine Gibbs School in New York.  How did the now senior advisor and former president and chief operating officer (COO) at Rea.deeming Beauty, Inc., go from the trucking industry to the beauty industry? “It was not something I knew I had a passion for until I found an opportunity,” says Bailey. 

As the first female Executive-in-Residence at Northampton Community College (NCC), on February 16, Bailey plans to explain how the beauty industry has changed and continues to evolve, touching on the future of retail and business in general.  

“I’m honored to be the first woman Executive-in-Residence. It’s thrilling. I’m impassioned with NCC and its mission. Any way I can help the students and institution, I’m going to do that.” 

Bailey with her family

Bailey was a stay-at-home mom when her husband, two kids, and a third on the way, came to the Lehigh Valley. After taking time to raise her children, she spent a short amount of time at another trucking company, Nissan Diesel, her background at Mack Trucks making this a smooth transition back into the workforce. After a few roles, she found what she considered a great opportunity with room to grow.  

In her mid-40’s, Bailey started at a company called Victoria Vogue in 1989. A friend told her about an opening at the cosmetic componentry company that produced sponges and powder puffs for major cosmetic companies. The spot was for the executive assistance role and Bailey felt, “there were great opportunities being on the front line with the owners.” She was right. “It wound up that I was able to touch a little of everything at the company in my time there.” 

This ambitious woman soaked up all the knowledge she could to move herself forward. Bailey saw how to run a successful company, learned the ins and outs of day-to-day tasks, assisted in developing products, and created the first marketing department at Victoria Vogue. She was eventually assigned as the sales representative for their largest in-house account, Proctor and Gamble.   

“By the time I left, I was the director of product development and marketing. I helped design different looks for the products and what kind of container it needed to go in,” said Bailey. She was awarded a patent for her double-sided applicator, wet dry product for a compact, an outstanding accomplishment that didn’t go unnoticed. 

Rea Ann Silva, a Hollywood makeup artist, beautyblender creator, and CEO/founder of Rea.deeming beauty, connected with Bailey while she was at Victoria Vogue. “I was asked to consult and help with the product development of the beauty blender. This blender was the first of its kind because it was outside the compact, and it didn’t come as a component. It was a “stand alone” product that became a category creator,” said Bailey.  

Bailey showing the beautyblender during the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

With her background in applicators, Bailey helped develop the beautyblender utilizing a unique foam that, along with its shape, created a flawless finish with no lines or streaks. At the same time, a cleanser was formulated for use with the blender so that it was a re-usable product, making it eco-friendly. 

“I get great joy out of helping people feel good about how they look, solving a skin problem or issues that they’re having with beauty,” said Bailey of her passion for the beauty industry. 

Once Rea.Deeming Beauty launched, that’s when Silva asked Bailey to help run her company as the president and chief operating officer.  

Since then, the company has come out with brushes, an eye liner guide and other tools. A few years ago, Rea.Deeming beauty got into color cosmetics with products like foundation, concealer and a line of primers. Bailey says the cosmetics category at the company continues to grow. 

“Color cosmetics is a very competitive field and something new for me. Since my background was in tools and accessories, we decided to hire someone experienced in cosmetics and skincare to do the primary development of the products. As I learned more, it opened yet another world of creativity to me. It was an extremely interesting and exciting process and incorporates a great deal of science. It’s not ‘throw a few things in a bottle, and there you have it,’” said Bailey, always poised for an opportunity for growth.  

Bailey with Silva at their 15 year company anniversary celebration

After spending over 30 years in the beauty industry, Bailey is now partially retired. She’s still with Rea.deeming beauty in an advisory role where she discusses different methodologies that have worked in the past and assists in client relations, and she continues to mentor.  

From her start in trucking, to raising a family and entering the corporate world, Bailey wants students at NCC to know, “as one chapter closes, another opens. You are never too old to start that great chapter.”  

Join Bailey for “Changes and Challenges in Life and Business,” Northampton Community College’s Hal Shaffer Memorial Executive-in-Residence lecture, on Tuesday, Feburary 16 at 4 p.m. Sign up for this free event at northampton.edu/HSM. For more information, email events@northampton.edu or call 610-332-6578.