Few people in the nail industry are as well known as Essie Weingarten. Whether it's at a trade show or on the streets of New York, the Essie Cosmetics president is easily recognized by both industry insiders and consumers. For 21 years, the "Queen of Polish" has worked hard to make her name—and her company-known. But despite all the attention she garners, there are still some things many people may not know about her. With that in mind, we've compiled this Top 10 list of little-known Essie facts.
1. Nails weren't her first passion. Essie actually majored in fashion merchandising and worked with prominent industry figures for eight years before she ventured into the nail industry.
2. Her love for quality nail polish was instilled early on. Whenever Essie would do well in school, shed treat herself to a manicure. "Even then, I always felt there was a need for fashion-forward colors," she says. "Back then, it was typical for a manicurist to apply two coats of polish on a clients' nails while her hair dried,"
3. The first color collection made its debut in Las Vegas. "I went door to door in Las Vegas and sold the colors myself," she says. Since most casinos did not have salons within their locales at the time, she thought the city the perfect place to launch her polish line. "After all, the people who worked in Vegas—the showgirls, dancers, dealers—needed to take care of themselves and look good for their jobs," she says. In 1981, a year after her launch, she sold the line to her first salon in New York.
4. Six of her original polish colors are still in existence. The first 12 colors that made up the Essie line had no name, but the six colors that still endure are Autumn Leaves, Baby's Breath, Azalea, Black Cherry Blanc, and Bordeaux.
5. Four of Essie's polish color names and her bottle design are trademarked. To make sure that copycats wouldn't claim her polish names as their own, Essie trademarked four colors: Ballet Slippers, Precious Pink, Baby's Breath, and Marsh-mallow. The distinctive square bottle was granted a trademark in 1993. Eight years later; she added her name to the bottles.
6. She's a night thinker. "I keep a notepad by my bed and one in my purse for any ideas that I come up with," she says. In fact, it's not unusual for her to wake up in the middle of the night and jot down a new polish name.
7. Her office is her haven. Essie spends more time at her Astoria, N.Y., headquarters than at her own home. Understandably, she's made it just as comfortable as if it were her home. Her office includes a kitchenette so she can cook when she's working late, a comfortable sofa, and photos other entire family.
8. Not every color makes the cut. Since Essie produces four color collections a year and her core color group consists of 160 shades, not every shade can make the cut. Obviously the rate of sale determines what color will be included in the core group, but other reasons also affect which shades will be kept and which will not. "People in New York loved Prune Face [a deep black-brown shade], but in California they were offended by the name. So we dropped it," she says.
9. Essie's polishes are stars in their own right. From first being mentioned by a celebrity in 1983 (Joan Rivers mentioned the polish on "The Tonight Show") to being featured in the 1993 film "Mrs. Doubtfire," Essie's polishes have always been a favorite among the Hollywood crowd.
10. She believes in taking her time. "People are constantly asking for new products, but we feel we have to have a great product before we venture into anything," she says. For that reason precisely, it took her four years to develop her pedicure, line, essiespa, which debuted this year.