The fascinating facts about OPI's 35-year history.
1. OPI hasn’t ALWAYS made color. It’s true! Your favorite color company launched in 1981 with a line of professional products, including liquid and powder. But it wasn’t until 1989 that OPI took the professional nail industry by storm with their first lacquer launch, a collection of 30 polishes.What was different about this color collection was that it was a fully integrated collection: advertising that showed the polish on the nails on a model as part of a total fashion look. Color names would become OPI’s signature as the years went on, and this first collection included such bon mots as Miami Spice and Boston Red Snapper.
2. The most popular color ever is not OPI Red; it’s I’m Not Really a Waitress. The color, which was part of the 1999 Fall/Winter Hollywood collection, hints at what is quintessential about OPI: It’s bold, sassy, and colorful. Team OPI has always had a sense of humor and has never shied away from a little sauciness (remember Kinky in Helsinki and A Man in Every Port-Ugal?).
3. Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI's co-founder, actually works in the lab with the chemists to help craft just the right tone for every collection.
4. OPI makes 55 million bottles of polish per year.
5. Charity is in their blood. Over the years OPI's founders, employees, and devotees have contributed MILLIONS to important charities, everything from breast cancer research to diabetes. OPI founders George Schaeffer and Suzi Weiss-Fischmann grew up in Hungary and came to the United States with nothing more than a colorful dream. From their first dollar, they’ve always given back to their industry, their community, and to the world at large. Since 2006, OPI has supported the breast cancer awareness organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure with its exclusive shade series, Pink of Hearts.
6. George Schaeffer was a cabbie!
7. The color-naming meetings are top secret.
8. Not every product OPI developed was a golden hit. There are some products that didn’t work in the market and were ultimately discontinued. The variety of products shows OPI’s whole-hearted commitment to research and development, though. PAWLISH by OPI was a nail polish for dogs (“color for nails for those with tails”), sold along with It's Dog Gone! Pawlish Remover and Paw Pads Wipes, but the products were discontinued several years ago.
9. The company has several patents and in 2012 the iconic lacquer bottle was featured at the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s alongside such distinctive packaging as the Hershey’s Kiss and the Coca Cola bottle.
10. OPI Nail Lacquer has won every single NAILS Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite Nail Color since the awards’ inception in 2004. No other company has even come close.
11. Nicole by OPI was named for George Schaeffer’s daughter Nicole.
12. Once, early in the company’s history, Suzi Weiss-Fischmann was filling orders at OPI’s home office with George and accidently hit the security system panic button. The house was surrounded by the SWAT team that thought Suzi was packaging up drugs (all that white powder, you know!).
13. OPI was the first professional nail company to advertise directly to consumers in beauty magazines, creating demand for the product and lending a high-profile and cachet to professional nail care.
14. OPI was the first professional nail company to partner with a major Hollywood film. In 2003, OPI partnered with MGM and introduced the Legally Blonde 2 collection, which featured colors such as Blond Date
, a light shimmery gold shade. Polishes from the collection are featured throughout the movie in the nail salon and on Elle’s desk as she touches up her French manicure.
15. OPI doesn’t stand for Opulent Polish Innovations, but Odontorium Products Inc., which was the name of the dental supply company George had in the early 1980s.
16. One of OPI’s most popular shades of all time is a sparkly bronze color called Glitzerland
17. OPI fills an average of 150,000 bottles of nail lacquer every day.
18. Before OPI started its naming sensation, most nail color simply used numbers, like Pink #3
is available in more than 75 countries around the world, including these salons in Paris, Madrid, and Singapore.
20. OPI has partnered with other great international brands on fabulously colorful product launches, including the Ford Mustang in Mustang Red
, Coca Cola’s Coca Cola Red
, Whirlpool’s I Don’t Do Dishes
, and Dell Computers’ custom color laptops.
21. Want to send colorful messages to your friends? OPI’s got an app for that! ColorChat, which debuted in 2015, translates messages into blobs of color, for a new take on secret code.
22. If you wanted your home painted in the colors of OPI, you could, by using the Clark + Kensington line of home paints available at Ace Hardware.
23. OPI has the longest roster of celebrity endorsements of any professional beauty company, a list that includes such style icons as Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, Serena Williams, and Kerry Washington.
24. Art and OPI have always gone hand in hand. Many works of art created by George Schaeffer’s mother and daughter hung in George’s office at OPI headquarters. OPI has also commissioned artwork made from its lacquers to use as awards for top distributors.
25. George Schaeffer was featured in People Magazine in 1999 wearing nail lacquer.
26. OPI has never been timid about trying new things with nail color. OPI launched Crackle polish in 2011 as part of their Katy Perry Shatter collection — which shattered sales records for the company.
27. RapiDry, OPI’s answer to the quick-drying topcoat craze in the 1990s, is still one of OPI’s best-selling products.
28. OPI introduced Bondex in 1988. This primer utilized a totally new technology to achieve strong adhesion of powder and liquid acrylic nail products to natural fingernails with virtually no lifting.
29. Back in 2011, OPI launched its groundbreaking Gelcolor with 28 classic shades, including such favorites as Big Apple Red, I’m Not Really A Waitress, Bubble Bath, and Kyoto Pearl.
30. The launch of Nicole by OPI raised money that benefited environmental causes, including Heal the Bay.
31. OPI was PR superstar Harris Shepard’s most notable client. “When I met and started working with Suzi and George, I was amazed at their ability to immediately say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ " says Shephard. “They never said ‘maybe.’ Through the 25 years of working with them it was never ‘I will get back to you,’ it was an answer, then and there. There weren’t days spent with focus groups. If there was a mistake, we moved on."
32. Suzi never went out to lunch; she always stayed at her desk and ate but we began doing lunch with beauty editors and conducting interviews over a meal, recalls Shepard.
33. OPI is synonymous with some of the world’s finest and most avant garde salons, including Laqué in North Hollywood. The salon raised nail services to an incredibly high level and only uses OPI lacquers and products.
34. The OPI team comes up with polish names by starting with a geographic location, then brainstorming on that region by sitting in a room for six to eight hours and looking at maps and pictures, and eating authentic food from the area.
35. At any given time there are 160 active OPI shades on the market; colors are retired every year to make way for new shades.