Kaleidoscope of Color
SINCE I WAS A LITTLE GIRL LIVING IN NEW YORK City, I've had a passion for manicures. When I was young, I was treated to manicures for doing well in school or being particularly nice to one of my four siblings. Back then, you went to a beauty salon and got your nails done while your hair was drying. It was typical to be offered a very limited selection of color choices, and instead of selecting a name for a polish, you would select a number for the color, which I always thought was impersonal and made for a rather unmemorable experience.
After high school, I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City where I pursued my other passion—fashion. I worked at Henri Bendel as a buyer for several years, but I always paid close attention to women's manicures. It was at this time that I decided to combine my passion for fashion with my philosophy that well-groomed nails are the perfect fashion accessories.
Essie Weingarten found a nailcare niche in 1981 when her now-booming company debuted.
I did some research and found that at the time, all of the best nail polish colors were carried at department stores, leaving a paltry selection for the nail technician and her client. I was struck by the irony of the situation—why was the woman most interested in nailcare and grooming, such as the spa or salon client, not offered more of a selection in polish shades? I knew I could service this market and set out to do just that.
In 1981, I found a chemist and developed a formula with the qualities I believed were important for a nail polish to possess: flawless coverage, outstanding durability, and chip-resistance. I started out with 12 shades including Bordeaux, Blanc, and Baby's Breath, colors that are still part of the Essie collection today, and I set out for Las Vegas. I soon understood that many of the women who worked in Vegas—who were performers, ran the tables at the casinos, or worked as waitresses—needed to look their very best as part of their professions. I went to all the hotel salons and left samples with my contact information. It didn't take long before the nail technicians and their clients were praising the nail polish. After one week, salon owners were calling me to place their orders. After visiting the salons, vacationers who had tried my polish in Las Vegas called me when they got home to purchase it for themselves. My phone started ringing day and night for orders, and I did a lot of the hands-on work, such as packaging and shipping, just to meet the growing demand. I had a lot of help from family and friends before I was able to hire a team like I have today.
Essie polishes are formulated to be durable, long-lasting, and available in fashion-forward colors.
My company really started to grow around 1983 when nail salons began becoming popular. I knew there was a great opportunity to provide nail professionals with a high-quality nail polish, along with a range of fashion-forward colors. As it turns out, my hunch was correct. Nowadays, I introduce six color collections a year—one for each season and two 'fun' collections. For summer 2007, for example, my inspiration for the collection's theme was the reintroduction of the belt and the theory that bigger is better. The colors are lighter and brighter than the dark shades from the fall and winter seasons.
I find inspiration for nail polish colors everywhere. I look at what the leather and suede manufacturers are doing as they work far in advance and are the first link to fashion. I keep a close eye on what's happening in the fashion industry and pay close attention to color trends. Ultimately, I rely on my instinct as to what my customers will wear as it has served me well for the past 26 years.
It's All In A Name
My philosophy on nail polish names is that they should always be whimsical, memorable, and fun. Sometimes I will come up with names based on experiences I have had or objects I've seen. One ex-ample is Café Forgot. I was in Paris at the time and walked into this very chic café. It happened to be raining, and I slipped and fell in front of everyone. That is a café I never forgot.
I want people to see or hear a name and remember it. You are a lot more likely to remember a name like Wicked, Limo-Scene, or Sugar Daddy than you are to remember a name that doesn't get your imagination going. Many names just strike a person emotionally, and my customers love it because it feels personal. Part of the fun in getting a manicure or pedicure is getting to pick a fun color with a fun name.
Essie polish colors are inspired by trends in fashion, and six collections are introduced each year—one for each season and two whimsical collections.
The Essie line currently includes more than 200 nail polish shades. Aside from great nail polish, our line of products has since expanded to include total treatments for hands and feet. Throughout the years, I have developed innovative products to satisfy my customers' ever-changing needs. Last year I introduced Good to Go!, a patented, fast-drying top coat that dries all layers of polish within seconds, because women today are so busy they don't even have time to sit and wait for their nails to dry.
I'm proud to say that today, Essie products are available in more than 50,000 spas and salons in the U.S. and in 60 countries around the world. I love knowing that people trust Essie and that our products have won numerous prestigious awards over the years. Even celebrities count on our fabulous colors when they want to look their best, which is the very reason why I have a color called A-List.
The summer 2007 collection features light, bright colors.
Today, manicures and pedicures are accessible luxuries that women of all ages are treating themselves to regularly. Women see nail polish as an important accessory and as a way to express themselves and pull their looks together. I have a theory about nailcare—as long as your nails are beautifully manicured, you are always in fashion. Your hands are the most expressive part of your body. They do the talking for you.— Essie Weingarten
Essie Weingarten is the founder of Essie. For more information, call (800) 232-1155 or visit www.essie.com.