Beauty bites: OPI

A look behind the nail polish label of OPI

Beauty bites: OPI

Source: Best Health Magazine, January/February 2012; Photo by Tracy Shumate

If you like manicures, you probably know OPI shades and their witty names ‘(I’m Not Really a Waitress; You Don’t Know Jacques! and I’m Fondue of You). They’re largely the invention of executive vice-president and artistic director Suzi Weiss-Fischmann. As a girl growing up in Hungary and then New York City, Weiss-Fischmann frequently rearranged her bedroom furniture and knick-knacks, giving the room a whole new look. Today, at 55, she’s still got that energy for change that drives OPI Products. It’s no small feat: The company, which was purchased in 2010 by Coty Inc. for a reported US$1 billion, has 600 employees, sells 55 million bottles of polish a year and maintains 200 shades.

It all began in 1981, when Weiss-Fischmann’s brother-in-law started Hollywood-based dental supply company Odontorium Products Inc. She joined a year later and artificial nails made from denture materials soon took over the business. In 1989, OPI launched its first salon polish collection’with fun names, instead of using numbers as everyone else was.

Weiss-Fischmann finds inspiration for OPI’s twice-a-year seasonal collections from work-related travel and fashion trend reports. The married mother of two often sports a different shade on each finger during testing. Then, it’s a day spent brainstorming names for the shades in collections like this spring’s Holland. The result of the debates and the giggling? Shades like I Don’t Give a Rotterdam! and A Roll in the Hague.

OPI is always announcing something new, whether it’s drugstore line Nicole’s celebrity collections or innovative formulas like Texture Coat, a topcoat that shatters. In salons, 2011’s GelColor, a long-lasting polish, goes on and comes off quicker than OPI’s 2008 Axxium. But the biggest news’Coty’s purchase of OPI’has meant little change for the nail maven. ”I discuss things on the phone with them, I keep them posted. They’re great people and mostly they say: ‘Keep it up.”

This article was originally titled "Beauty bites" in the January/February 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!