Executive vice president and artistic director, OPI
Suzi Weiss-Fischman is known as the First Lady of Nails, as she is single-handedly responsible for creating every OPI nail lacquer shade based on each season’s fashion and beauty forecast. With an extensive background in the New York garment industry and a degree from Hunter College, she combines fashion-forward thinking with business savvy. In addition to setting new trends, Weiss-Fischmann makes ongoing education of nail professionals a priority—throughout the year OPI educators share developments in salon hygiene and sanitation, new products, tools and techniques with nail techs.
From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
I was hungry—I don’t know how else to put it. I don’t come from money and I always had the drive. I’m an immigrant from Hungary and I saw the opportunities here and realized what a fool I would have been to not go for it.
As you grew your company/brand, what “ah-ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
I think in 1989 when OPI got into nail color, we made it relevant to women. We rebranded category—made it fun, sexy and inspirational. We made this whole category. Before it was a color and number. We came up with collections, geographic locations and fun names. We wanted to be the Starbucks of nail polish. I travel all over, and you say “OPI” and people know what you’re talking about. They look forward to the colors because they’re fashion forward and on trend. Lincoln Park after Dark made vamp mainstream when it was released in 2005.
As you shaped your company, what have been some of the biggest stumbling blocks?
When you grow there are growing pains with the infrastructure. George Schaeffer and I built company and expansion, hiring more people, buying machinery—those things are painful. Those things can hinder growth if you aren’t able to ship on time.
How would you describe your management style? What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you to improve?
I surround myself with people who can translate my vision. I love the people I work with and look forward to seeing them every day. I learned in the beginning that you need to get over the hump of thinking you are the only one who can do anything. For example—social media—I’m learning from young people every day on this topic. I have to live in the world of all this technology. Also, I follow my own vision and work with people who understand how to think out of the box and be different. For OPI, quality is number one. Always has been, always will be. As for improving; I make decisions—procrastination is bad in a leader. Maybe I should shut up sometimes (laughing).