OPI’s Brand Beginnings: An Interview with The First Lady of Nails Suzi Weiss-Fischmann

Alison Alhamed | November 4, 2016 | 5:35 AM

 The OPI success story began not as a professional nail care brand, but as a dental supply company. Realizing that dentures and artificial nail extensions share the same chemistry, OPI co-founder Suzi Weiss-Fischmann saw an opening in the market and ran with it.

“We started by dropping off our Rubberband Special, which was a jar of powder, liquid and powder rubber-banded together,” says Hungary-raised Weiss-Fischmann, while at Wella Trend Vision 2016, which brought together the Coty professional beauty brands in Barcelona. “It was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry, and eventually became the OPI traditional acrylic system.”

The original space for OPI (which actually stands for Odontorium Products Inc, thank you dental industry) was 1,200 sq feet where Weiss-Fischmann found herself doing it all: making the products, answering the phones, taking orders, packing boxes, shipping orders and sweeping floors.

“Work wasn’t glamorous but I learned so much about how the business works—it really helped me understand my employees and their roles in the years that follow,” she says.

When Weiss-Fischmann started exploring the world of nail lacquer, she felt that the category was missing the mark with women.

“It wasn’t personal or meeting the needs and desires of women,” Weiss-Fischmann says. “We needed quick beauty solutions and a spark of color that could lift spirits plus nails we could be proud of. As women we are employees, employers, managers of the home, spouses, mothers, caregivers of aging parents—and sometimes simultaneously. I have found myself juggling many of these roles and it’s with that understanding that OPI has been able to create products that resonate with women.”

When the brand launched, it debuted 30 shades with now-iconic names that women still talk about [editor’s note: our favorites include You Don’t Know Jacques and I’m Not Really a Waitress]. And many of those 30 shades are still popular today.

“Color serves as a visual cue that allows us to feel connected to the world around us,” she says.

“From biological reactions that ensure survival, like being able to tell when food is ripe, or seeing the seasons change—color influences our brainwaves and nervous system. OPI serves as a powerful communication tool that allows for self-expression from the colors I wear to the colors I surround myself with.

“Women empower themselves daily through the choices they make for themselves and their families. Color can be used to reflect personal style, preference and mood. Color cannot only change your look, but your outlook. OPI is more than the sum of its parts: our name, our logo, our iconic bottle and colorful content have become a messenger of beauty and inspiration.

Our customers love us because of our shared love of color.”

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