Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder and creative director of OPI Products, was honored on May 1, 2013 for her work and support on behalf of the Delete Blood Cancer Center. The celebrity-studded event was held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City and we spoke with Weiss-Fischmann recently to learn about the event and the life saving work of this organization.
MODERN SALON: YOU WERE JUST HONORED AT THE DELETE BLOOD CANCER GALA. HOW DID THAT FEEL?
SUZI WEISS-FISCHMANN: It was a great honor and a very emotional evening. I became involved with Delete Blood Cancer through Coty, the parent company of OPI. The wife of Coty chairman Peter Harf died of leukemia and he and his daughter Katharina Harf began the organization in her honor. The organization was launched in Germany ten years ago as DKMS (Deutsch Knochenmarkspenderdatei GmbH, or German Bone Marrow Donor Center) to raise awareness that leukemia and other blood cancers can frequently be cured with a bone marrow transplant; however, a donor match is often not available from among a patient’s family or friends. Now, with a simple swab of the cheek, anyone can join the registry and potentially save a life. I was so touched to receive the organization’s Business Award. The celebrity awards were presented to designer Vera Wang and actress Leighton Meester. Heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield attended the event with his son, Evander Holyfield Jr., who volunteered several years ago to be a donor and turned out to be a match for a young cancer patient. The young woman is now 17 and she and her donor met for the first time at the event. It was so powerful and I can say there was not a dry eye in the house. If donors and recipients are put in touch, it is only after a year or more has passed. This meeting was an example of how a simple, painless test can give anyone the power to save a life.
MS: HOW CAN OTHERS JOIN THE REGISTRY?
SW-F: The wonderful thing is that anyone can do this. There are so many sad things in life that we are powerless against, but this is an action that no matter how busy you are, or if you are not in a position to make a financial donation, you can still join this effort. Like any DNA test, it only requires swabbing the inside of your cheek. If you visit deletebloodcancer.com, you can request a kit, swab your cheek and send it in. Many people never are matched, but if you are, you have the choice to donate bone marrow. This is, of course, more involved, but most people who are willing to submit DNA will be willing to donate bone marrow if they are a match for someone. Bone marrow quickly replenishes itself and the donor’s inconvenience or minor discomfort is overshadowed by the chance to literally save a life.
MS: HOW IS OPI GETTING THE WORD OUT?
SW-F: OPI has launched two nail lacquers, a red and a white shade, the colors of DKMS. The lacquers are promoted together with the tag line OPI (Hearts) Loves DKMS. I think of this as our message in a bottle. Nail color is very personal and says “this is who I am.” When offering these colors to clients, salon owners and nail technicians have the perfect opportunity to tell clients how they can “get swabbed” and become a potential donor. The message that I grew up with from my father, and which has been a philosophy at OPI is, “If you give, you get.”
Salons can visit Deletebloodcancer.org and learn how to spread the word or hold fund raisers. Get on the web site, get the kit, get swabbed and send in the kit. It’s simple, easy, free, and can save a life. I worried about the Delete Blood Cancer gala because I usually like to stay in the background, but I am so grateful to have been there with my family for this wonderful organization and receive the business Award from my long time friend Glenda Bailey, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar and Katharina Harf. It was a beautiful evening in so many ways.
Visit deletebloodcancer.org to make the ultimate difference in someone’s life.
Suzi Weiss-Fischmann received the Delete Blood Cancer Center’s Business Award from Glenda Bailey of Harper’s Bazaar and Katharina Harf, co-founder of DKMS. Photography by Jennifer Graylock for Getty Images.