A Nail Polish Industry Legend

Mar 18, 2020 | Industry Leaders

She’s known worldwide as The First Lady of Nails. Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, a Jewish mom who is a second-generation Holocaust survivor, founded OPI in 1981.

Author of a book titled I’m Not Really a Waitress (which is also the name of OPI’s top-selling nail color), Weiss-Fischmann discusses her childhood in communist Hungary, to founding OPI and becoming one of the biggest names in the nail industry. Her book also talks about how she used to have a serious nail biting problem, and it continued into her career as Co-founder and Creative Director of OPI. Finally she gave up the habit as she couldn’t have awful chewed up looking nails as the head of a global nail polish company.

When Weiss-Fischmann started the company with her brother-in-law, George Schaeffer, they knew nothing about nails. They were running a dental supply company and noticed that the dental hygienists were buying dental acrylics to use as nail extensions. Weiss-Fischmann and Schaeffer also thought that the color options available for nail polish were seriously lacking. They figured there was a huge hole in the industry that they could fill. With Weiss-Fischmann’s eye for color and creative witty shade names, a successful nail empire was born.

Weiss-Fischmann credits some of her success to the environment she was raised in, and to her Jewish values. She said “There’s no limitation to women. The only limitations are what you put on yourself. I grew up where women were doctors, engineers, lawyers, and they were all university educated.” She not only made a difference in the nail industry, but she is a compassionate, generous person who enjoys giving to charities. She is quoted as saying “People always ask, ‘what can you do to make your life better?’ I always say that if you’re able to, give financially, or mentor somebody and make a difference in their life. If you can make a difference in one person’s life, you did good.”

Weiss-Fischmann made the decision to sell OPI to Coty in 2010, but she continues her role as a brand ambassador and is still responsible for the fan-favorite, humorous color names.


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