We challenged some of your favorite nail product manufacturers to tell us their story in the space of a cocktail napkin. It’s not easy to break down the history of a company into a 100-word blurb. See what these 12 industry big-wigs had to say in these bite-sized bios.
In 1957, my grandfather (a dentist and inventor) started our dental company. He patented the first nail form. Through the ’70s and ’80s, my father grew the business while developing the first non-yellowing acrylic (for other companies).
In the late ’80s, after too much fun in college, I had to decide: Continue to develop new nail products for others or start our own brand? Continue working with dentists or begin working directly with nail technicians and attend beauty shows around the world?
Easy decision… NSI came to life in 1987-88. With a lot of blood, sweat, and tears we have contributed to a great industry, and given nail techs a chance at an exciting lifestyle.
Rick Slack, president of NSI
Big groups of Nail Professionals.
Photography with tightly cropped, honest nails.
BIG ideas and innovation.
Big strides and marketshare.
Big breakthroughs backstage.
Go BIG or go home!
Jan Arnold, co-founder of CND
I built Essie from just 12 polishes in 1981 to over 250 colors, treatments and spa products sold worldwide today. Years ago there were few color choices and little creativity in the category. I took a risk and created exciting never-before-seen shades with whimsical names. And the risk paid off. Twenty-eight years later Essie is a trailblazer and continues to be one of the number-one salon brands. The Essie color wardrobe is an interpretation of very personal experiences. For example, I was a serious ballerina when I was young and I channeled that by creating Ballet Slippers, a venerable cult favorite!
Essie Weingarten, founder & president of Essie Cosmetics[PAGEBREAK]
My mission was to innovate natural nail care.
My proudest industry milestones:
• 1975 Wherefore art thou? Romeo, the first ever nail strengthener is introduced.
• 1976 Ridgefiller priming basecoat is released, smoothing out nails across the world.
• 1976 Ooh la la! We create The French Manicure, which becomes the first-ever iconic nail look.
• 1980 Bonder rubberized basecoat becomes a must-have product for manicurists everywhere!
• 2002 Get a grip! Orly introduces the Gripper Cap, the first major functional packaging innovation of the nail industry.
Jeff Pink, president and CEO of Orly International
I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. Survived the siege of Leningrad as an infant. In spite of all odds, grew up, graduated from university in Organic Chemistry. Being an adventuress, left Russia for the U.S. in 1978 with my teenage son, $2 in my pocket, and high aspirations. In 1989, my son and I started this business by making a bet for $100 that I could create a formulation for hair removal wax. I won! The formulation worked and the business started. Tears and smiles, sometimes hysterical laughs, good days and even better days, 20 years later with the nail polish and treatments, we found ourselves on the map of cosmetics. Hallelujah.
Faini Ritz, owner of Duri Cosmetics
Born in Boston — got snowed in one too many times —packed up and went to L.A. Got rid of accent (I sounded like Kennedy!) and went to nail school in 1982.
Nail competitions, trade shows, NAILS Magazine shows, The Peters Perspective, Nailpro, Las Vegas, Kupa, books, articles, covers, mentoring, Vicki Peters Inc.
Dog rescue, NASCAR — life is simple, really. There is dog poop on my new desert landscape rocks. I never really put my suitcase away. I live a “drama-free” life!
Vicki Peters, president of Vicki Peters Inc.[PAGEBREAK]
In the beginning everyone told me I had no chance. I never believed that at all. I had nothing to prove to anyone but myself that I could make it. I worked hard because I wanted to take care of my Mom and Dad. They did everything for me and my brother, so I want to make sure that they are taken care of for life. I keep that philosophy with my business. I want to make sure that my customers are taken care of with a lot of love.
Greg Salo, president of Young Nails
I was raised among hard-working people in Southern California. Earned my degree in chemistry, graduated and went to work as a polymer chemist. I met Lezlie at her parents’ barn! She opened a salon, we both went through divorces (independently and not planned!) and we got married a few years later. Lezlie asked me to formulate a new UV-cured gel line for the nail technicians at her salon. After nine months of trials, the techs loved it and Lezlie said, “Let’s sell this stuff!” Light Elegance took over the house and so we moved to a warehouse. Light Elegance is now our life.
Jim McConnell, president of Light Elegance Nail Products
• Graduated high school in ’78 — the principal told me I would never amount to anything.
• Held down three jobs simultaneously while attending beauty school full-time: Worked for my father, worked in the construction trades, and as a bartender at a local restaurant.
• Came up with the idea of using fiberglass on fingernails while repairing my boat in the garage in 1983. • Designed the company logo and packaging on bar napkins while working.
• Completed all hours for cosmetology licensing, quit other jobs and went to work full time with my father and founded Backscratchers in 1984, never looking back.
Michael Megna, CEO & president of Backscratchers Salon Systems[PAGEBREAK]
As executive VP & artistic director of OPI, aka the First Lady of Nails, I single-handedly create every OPI Nail Lacquer shade. I believe that nail color is a fashion essential and the ultimate accessory, and have set trends in the industry with that thinking. Leading fashion and beauty editors rely on my style insights and my seasonal nail lacquer choices, and I meet with them at least twice a year to share my expertise. I love color and adore fashion — and I believe I share that passion with the women around the world who embrace OPI.
Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive VP & artistic director of OPI
American International Industries is a family of personal care, men’s toiletries, and beauty brands.
We manufacture a wide variety of products, offering affordable indulgences — faux lashes, nail polish, hair removal, men’s items — readily available to everyone.
We beautify from head to toe, and it is these little extras that make the difference in a look.
I am a businessman. I am also a lecturer and an author of several books.
I surround myself with good people.
I try to listen more than I talk.
Zvi Ryzman, president of American International Industries (AII)
• I met my wife at the age of 12 — engaged at 19— married at 25.
• Moved from New York to California at age 25.
• Started Star Nail in 1981 with $2,000 investment in Venice Beach, Calif.
• I have traveled to 110 countries, have 400 employees globally and have sold over $90 million of nail products.
• I started Cuccio Naturalé in 1999. It has grown to be the number-one spa line in the world. My passion — teach nail technicians how to make more money.
• I love the beauty business. I still come to work every day at 5 a.m!
Tony Cuccio, president & CEO of Star Nail International
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