If you’re a manicure aficionado, you’ve probably heard of a nail polish company called OPI. (In fact, you’re probably wearing one of their colors right now.) Lincoln Park After Dark and Let Me Bayou a Drink are just two of the whimsically-named polishes this company has produced over the years.
If you know OPI, then it’s time to meet Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, better known as “Suzi, the First Lady of Nails.” She is the cofounder and creative visionary who has grown the company into the number one salon nail brand in the world. The company sells 40 million bottles of nail polish each year. (That’s going to cover A LOT of fingers and toes.)
I’m Not Really a Waitress is the story of Weiss-Fischmann’s life in the business world. I’m Not Really a Waitress also happens to be the name of OPI’s best selling red polish. (Each chapter in the book is named after one of the company’s polish colors.)
The author opens the book recounting her childhood in Communist Hungary. She tells of her home being raided by Secret Police and her parents arrested for refusing to become informants for the Communist Party. Family members paid officials for their release only to have the government decide their home was “too big” for one family and other families were moved in with them.
As the arrests became more routine and not seeing a future for their children under Communism, the family made the decision to flee. To prevent escape, the Communist Party never let whole families travel together. Weiss-Fischmann’s father went to a passport agent said “How much?” paid an exorbitant amount of money and the family was given the passports they needed to leave the country.
They resettled in Israel and Weiss-Fischmann describes it as being like Dorothy’s transition to Oz. The country was full of vibrancy and an explosion of color. She was fascinated with the markets where colorful fruits and vegetables overflowed on the tables. There was so much choice. No more rationing and uniformity. She speaks of being hyper-aware of color and noticing every shade and hue. She credits this gift for helping her design the many OPI shades in the years to come.
She eventually ended up in New York City working with her brother-in-law, George Schaeffer, who was operating a garment manufacturing firm. And then fate intervened.
A little company called Ondontorium Products, Inc. was up for sale in a strip mall in Southern California. They were manufacturers of dental products and, while neither George nor Suzi knew anything about dental products, both believed they had the smarts and the work ethic to make a go of it.
They bought the company and in time noticed it wasn’t just dentists purchasing their products. Many of their customers were Hollywood nail technicians buying dental acrylics to make acrylic nail extensions. This caught their imagination, they set out on a quest to make the best nail acrylics in the business…and this is where the story begins.
Suzi meets the nail industry. Ondontorium Products, Inc. becomes OPI. Magic ensues.
The book is filled with advice and tips about building a brand, staying true to yourself, and giving back once you’ve made it BIG. This is the perfect book for the budding entrepreneur and the hardcore fashionista. There’s a little something for everyone.
So what is my favorite OPI color? I got married in Hopelessly in Love. The color was discontinued, but the marriage is still going strong. Thanks OPI!