There’s a Yiddish word that comes to mind that perfectly sums up OPI president George Schaeffer: It’s mensch, and it means someone who is a stand up guy, a big-hearted person. Schaeffer is well known in the nail industry for a 20- year history that has brought attention to professional nail products. Although there were professional products before and after OPI launched its first color collection in 1989, it was the biannual themed collections, with their play- on-words polish names, that captured the imagination of nail technicians and salon customers alike and set the standard for the industry. It was also Schaeffer (with his sister-in-law partner Suzi Weiss Fischmann) who first abandoned the word nail polish and coined the term lacquer — a move that helped distinguish salon brands from drugstore brands.
Just about everyone in the nail industry — whether friend or competitor — would say that OPI and Schaeffer have done much to advance the professional nail industry. Many in the industry are familiar with the give-back program launched with Nicole (the Colors With a Conscience program). But Schaeffer goes beyond that.
He’s donated to a wide variety of causes, including leukemia research and breast cancer awareness. In fact, at this year’s annual ABA Beauty Ball and Charity Auction, he donated $ 120,000 to the Leukemia Research Foundation (and was rewarded with a pair of angel wings, which he proudly donned).
Starbright Foundation, Rock the Vote, American Oceans Campaign, and Gilda’s Club benefit from the Colors With a Conscience program. Schaeffer madesure that at least 80% of each group’s revenue goes directly into providing actual programs and services, while no more than 20% is used for administrative expenses. The wide-ranging organizations were chosen according to their track records and the degree of commitment exhibited by their employees and executives.
National organizations aren’t the only ones to benefit from Schaeffer’s largesse. Last year; OPI and Schaeffer established the George Schaeffer Family Foundation. Through the foundation, Schaeffer and his wife Miriam established a scholarship program for eligible OPI employees that will fund post-high school education. “Miriam and I have found that there is no substitute for a good education and we want our extended OPI family to take advantage of these opportunities as well,” Schaeffer says ‘With this scholarship program we feel that we are giving back to those who have enabled us to succeed.”
And just recently, he made it possible for 40 children of OPI employees to do their homework on brand new computers. In an essay contest, children explained “Why I Need A New Computer.” The winners received a computer; monitor; and printer: For Schaeffer; it’s obviously not about receiving Giving comes first.