A Polished Act
OPI is more than a nail lacquer—it’s become an iconic brand
with the staying power of Coke or Apple.
O ONE THING and do it very
well. For 20 years, OPI has
manufactured and marketed nail enamel better than
any company on the planet.
No wonder then, that while
some personal care company
executives fret about the
current state of the industry,
OPI founder George Schaeffer and
executive vice president and artistic
director Suzi Weiss-Fischmann are too
busy expanding the business and forming new partnerships to take much
notice of how the economy—or their
Even before the recession started
forcing Mom-and-Pop nail salons out of
business, the OPI team looked elsewhere and opened retail distribution
channels in a range of stores, including
Target, Ulta and Sephora. Along the
way, OPI formed novel alliances with
seemingly disparate partners including
Dell Computer, Whirlpool, Ford Motor
and, most recently, Walt Disney.
These maneuvers have helped the
company grow even in the face of the
worst economic downturn in more than
30 years. Sales rose 6% in OPI’s recently concluded fiscal year and exceed
$400 million at retail.
“There are three industries that do
okay in a recession—liquor, confections
and beauty. All are instant gratification
items,” explained Schaeffer. “Maybe
people aren’t buying the premium-priced products like they did in the
past, but the quantity is there. When
you want chocolate, you’ll buy
Hershey’s or Mars.”
And when a woman wants her nails
done, she’ll turn to OPI.
By expanding distribution beyond
traditional salons, OPI is getting into
more women’s hands than ever these
days. That’s why the company developed products such as Nicole by OPI
and Sephora by OPI.
“We have worldwide recognition for
our brand,” crowed Schaeffer.
An American Success Story
Schaeffer emigrated from Hungary to
the U.S. with his family in 1956. After
graduating from City College of New
York, he began his career in the family
garment manufacturing business in
New York City. Determined to build an
even better lifestyle, Schaeffer moved
his family to Los Angeles in 1981 and
purchased a dental supply business
called Odontorium Products Inc. He
soon realized that the acrylic “
porcelains” used to make dentures were better than the materials used by nail professionals for making acrylic nails.
Partnering with a chemist, Schaeffer
created an acrylic system based on the
dental formulas but developed specifically for nails.