Today, the company offer more than 200 polish shades, and the line has expanded to include nail treatments, a spa line, and other cosmetics.
Weingarten rides a Vespa in this 2002 polish ad.
“As long as your nails are beautifully manicured, you are in fashion,” says Essie Weingarten. And who would know better than this beauty industry icon who celebrates her 25th year at the helm of Essie Cosmetics this year. Her entire line consisted of just 12 shades when she began peddling her polishes to hotel salons in Las Vegas in 1981. The fabulous colors with the memorable names were a hit, and Essie Polish soon become available nationwide. Today, the company offer more than 200 polish shades, and the line has expanded to include nail treatments, a spa line, and other cosmetics. With partner Max Sortino, Weingarten has expanded the company’s international distribution to include Canada, Australia, the Far East, South America, and Europe.
Weingarten at age 24
NAILS recently asked Weingarten to talk about on her quarter century in business:
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the nail Industry over the past 25 years?
Weingarten: Only one? Then I guess I would have to say the accessibility of manicures and pedicures. When I started Essie Cosmetics, there weren’t affordable nail salons all over the place women got their nail done if they were wealthy or for special occasion. And always at the beauty parlor. Now women of all ages can pamper themselves regularly with top quality colors and products without breaking the bank.
What is the process you go through coming up with each season’s polish collection?
Weingarten and Captain Constantinos Fafalios of the Norwegian Jewel choose winners of a cruise vacation for a contest Essie and the Cruise Lines International Association held in 2005.
Weingarten: I start by speaking with the leather makers because they are the first people to know about fashion trends. Then I get inspiration from runways the colors, the fabrics, the feelings, and looks all play a factor when I create collections, I pick some favorite styles and most dominant shades from the shows and sit down to mix nail polish that reflect and coordinate with them. Once my creative team and I have chosen the “it” fashion item for that collection, the brainstorming begins in order to come up with names. I feel strongly that polish names should not only be cute and memorable, but also convey the color.
Last year, Weingarten and Essie CEO Max Sortino traveled to China to launch the first ever Essie distributor here.
We’ve seen you augment your nail lines with gloss and lotions? Any new product introductions in the work?
Weingarten: Of course! If you stop growing and changing you’ll get left behind. The next products are still in the works though, so I have to keep them confidential. All I can say is stay tuned.
What’s your proudest professional accomplishment?
Weingarten: Receiving a CEW Achievement Award, I was the first person in the professional beauty industry to be given the honor. In addition, I was also in the company of other remarkable women winners who have been successful in various parts of the beauty industry
Weingarten (right) poses with Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure, at the CEW Achiever Awards.