No ordinary dentist, Dr. Stuart Nordstrom was honored for his extraordinary contribution to the field of cosmetology at a December 6, 1997, ceremony at the American Beauty Association’s Dialog conference in Boca Raton, Fla. A 1997 inductee into the Cosmetology Hall of Fame, Dr Nordstrom, the co-founder of Creative Nail Design, was selected for his pioneering work developing new nail products and promoting standards and education at a time when the nail industry was just starting to blossom. He joins other Cosmetology Hall of fame notables such as Charles Revson, Paul Mitchell, and Vidal Sassoon.
Dr. Nordstrom’s interest in nail technology was first piqued in the 1970s when one of his dental patients, a dissatisfied nail technician, recognized the material he was using to make a temporary crown as having the same odor as the product she used to sculpt nails. The patient complained that the product she used yellowed and became brittle with age, so Dr. Nordstrom went home to his garage laboratory and mixed up some test batches of a product he thought would work well for nails — one that would not yellow, was safe, and was compliant with FDA standards.
By 1978, he was formulating a liquid and powder system for three or four nail technicians. He had devised a four-step system: decontaminate, form, mix, apply. He even had an engineer design a dappen dish that would slow down evaporation.
Soon the family took their product on the road to tradeshows.
Dr. Nordstrom would bottle liquid on the back porch, his son Jim would put boxes together, and his daughter Jan and wife Mary would sew the booth draping. Calling their company Classique Nails, Dr. Nordstrom, Jim, and Jan traveled to schools to work with students. In just a few months, the company moved into a 500-square-foot building and changed its name to Creative Nail Design.
By 1983, when Dr. Nordstrom attended IBS in New York, Creative Nail Design was thriving and a whole industry was springing up with nails at its center Dr. Nordstrom, who had suffered from heart-related health problems much of his life, died in June of that year, on Father’s Day. Since his death, the company has grown into one of the top professional nail care companies. In I 995, it was acquired by Revlon, although Creative’s management team remains in place with Jan as president and Jim as CEO.
“My father loved this industry,” says Jim. “So much so that the night before he died he was actually writing up a patent on nail tips. He believed in quality, education, commitment, and loyalty."
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