Alexandra Canal, Yahoo Finance senior correspondent, speaks with Suzi Fischmann, OPI co-founder, about International Women’s Day. Also, she discusses the origin of OPI and how they collaborate with Xbox.
ALEXANDRA CANALIt’s International Women’s Day. Suzi Weissmann (cofounder of OPI nail paint manufacturer) is joining us. Suzi Weissmann, thanks for joining us. OPI established the norm for nail color and has become an integral part of self-care culture. What does your company do to promote female empowerment, since it’s International Women’s Day
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNFirst of all, we want to thank you for hosting us. It’s a pleasure. OPI employs a large number of women. OPI always makes it a priority for women to feel more confident and work together.
ALEXANDRA CANALYour family is an immigrant, and you are a Holocaust survivor. What made you become the successful businesswoman that you are today, despite your differences?
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNIt is rare to find a professional make-up artist with such a story. Immigrant from the United States, I am. In 1969, I came to the USA. The Holocaust was my parents’ last battle. It was easy to see that anything is possible in this country. You only need passion, perseverance, hard work, and determination.
OPI was founded in the dental industry. My brother and I both worked in the dental supplies trade. It was not long before we realized artificial nails extensions had become very popular during the 1980s. Nail salons started popping up all around Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. These salons offered acrylic nails which was very similar in appearance to the making of dentures. You can now tip your mouth.
We said: “Oh it’s so more fun to do nail technician work.”You can create acrylic nails with the Rubber Band Special salon service. OPI quickly expanded its services to other products. OPI began to offer nail colors in 1989. This really brought OPI into the consumers’ eye.
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ALEXANDRA CANAL That’s amazing. It was also great to hear what you did that worked and the reasons you succeeded. Also, tell us about your obstacles to entry for women in your position. It can be very hard to find beauty.
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNYes, it’s very hard. This was my most challenging challenge to take seriously. It was something that people would say to me all the time. “Oh, the nail polish woman is here to speak.”The nail salon lady, you mean? However, once I was able to use it I needed to boost my confidence. OPI was for me the best. Suzi grew, OPI grew.
Presentations that are polished and confident will be more effective. After I gained the confidence and ability to present, I was accepted seriously. Universities invited me to speak at additional universities. In order to tell my story and inspire others, I stated that I was capable.
ALEXANDRA CANALGeorge, your brother, was mentioned by you as having co-founded OPI. I was curious about his treatment of you as a man during the company’s growth. Was it possible that your gender influenced the way you were treated in the workplace.
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNAbsolutely. Absolutely. Family dynamics can either be very positive or extremely difficult. Our family was very happy. Each of us quickly realized our strengths and weaknesses. George was responsible for building the infrastructure. I didn’t know much about machinery. Color was what I was most interested in.
I mean, I’ve always loved color. fashion, decorating. That’s who I am as an individual. That was a wonderful contribution to the company’s growth.
ALEXANDRA CANALThe iconic OPI nail colors are truly iconic. I know that I’m due for my own polish very soon. Let’s talk more about the future of OPI. OPI will be partnering with Xbox in the spring 2022 collection. This is a unique partnership, but it’s also a sign of times, as more companies are embracing virtual worlds. This is what it means for your company.
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNCollaborations are a big part OPI’s success. Our goal is to first excite our customers and, secondly, make them happy.
OPI– that’s what OPI as a company wanted. OPI should be part of every woman’s life, no matter where she is or what she does. You probably know that geographic location played an important role in both the fall and winter collections.
Many of us couldn’t travel because of the pandemic. We chose to travel to the virtual world. This partnership with Xbox was extraordinary. It was flawless. It was perfect. Even if you’re gaming, typing or using Zoom calls, your nails will always be visible. It will make you smile. It can change the way you see yourself and your world.
Nail art– I mean the growth, expansion, and self-expression of nail art is amazing. It’s amazing. It didn’t stop even during the pandemic. Xbox is a great platform and we’re very excited. This has allowed us to reach a whole new group of women gamers. We’re here.
ALEXANDRA CANALYou did indeed mention the pandemic. What did it mean for your company? You also mentioned Xbox which I think was pivotal. What other ways did you grow the business?
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNWomen could take care of their nails on their own, with no need to get a manicure or pedicure. It was the idea of setting up retail outlets that would quickly send nail colors to customers, like Ulta or Amazon. It was huge because it allowed women to use both your topcoat and nail treatment.
Since many salons closed as you pointed out, it was important to reach them fast with products. It was the first time that I had a hair service performed outside. It was so wonderful. That was my little escape. It’s true that the instant satisfaction you get when your manicure or pedicure are complete is something that I felt 40 years ago, when OPI first came out. It has not stopped.
ALEXANDRA CANALYes. It was quite a different experience to get your first manicure in the midst of the pandemic. It is still part of me. Inflation is a problem we also need to address. Inflation has affected nearly every aspect of the economy. What can you do to combat inflationary pressures? Many Americans may be interested in nail polish as a discretionary expenditure.
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNRight now, don’t increase the prices. They can maintain the price at a low level without raising them. It is part of their service.
Sometimes, the customer will extend her next manicure or pedicure by a few days to ensure she doesn’t quit. You might consider stretching your time a bit. These are just some of the many things OPI can accomplish in inflationary times.
ALEXANDRA CANALThis seems like a highly competitive market, particularly with new brands such as Olive & June emerging and social media like TikTok. OPI has managed to keep ahead of its competitors.
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNMany things. As I mentioned before, collaborations are a way for us to continue exciting our customers. OPI is 40 years old so it can be considered an older brand. We’re still very young and exciting. It is not uncommon for us to change names or colors. I mean, who doesn’t? They tell me about their lives and give me a list of at least twelve of their most favorite nail colours.
Women can now get nail colors. This made nail color as attractive and appealing as possible. They don’t care if it’s good or bad times, they just wear nail color. OPI nails colors were also special to them. It’s something very, very unique. It’s what makes OPI stand out. We’ve been in movies, in Hollywood. OPI has always been there. OPI will continue to be a source of excitement for consumers in the future 40 years.
ALEXANDRA CANAL You’re so right. Lincoln Park After Dark was my highlight high school experience. It was my opportunity to share that experience. Let’s get to the point. Your number one advice to women who want to progress and improve their career?
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNPassion is the key. Passionately engage in what you do. Keep true to your identity My belief has always been that I’m who I am. However, I am passionate about perseverance and patience. Also, I can make choices. I was able to make good decisions. This is my superpower. While they might not always be correct, you just keep moving forward. Like my father would tell me, “Get on the next train.”
ALEXANDRA CANALThis is why I love it. Take the next train. Suzi WeissmannFischmann, the founder and chief executive officer at OPI is Suzi. Thank you so much for being here today.
SUZI WEISSFISCHMANNIt was an honor. We are grateful.