Top Women in Focus: Suzi Weiss-Fischmann


As OPI’s executive vice president and artistic director, Suzi Weiss-Fischmann is known as “The First Lady” when it comes to nails. (For those of you living in a bubble for the last five years, OPI is a professional nail care company. It has a global influence with distribution in over 100 countries.) OPI was founded in 1981 by George Schaeffer, the company president and CEO. Originally a dental company, called Odontorium Products Inc., they realized that the acrylic porcelains used to make dentures were similar to the materials used by nail professionals for crafting acrylic nails. OPI is a family business and has grown into one of the leaders in professional nail care.

We spoke with Weiss-Fischmann to find out how she comes up with the crazy names for their polish, what inspires her, and how OPI stays ahead in the beauty industry.

How did you get your start in the beauty/nail industry?
It’s a family business. So, I’ve been in since the start, but in 1989 the company was growing rapidly and we got into colour and that really took the company to another level.

What inspires you to develop the crazy names for OPI?
I try to think of the average female consumer as I like the colours to take them to places they’ve never been. A colour brings a memory of happy or sad times. My inspiration for the crazy and fun OPI names usually come from traveling and fashions trends of the season.

What is your favourite OPI name?
“Up The Amazon Without A Paddle” from the South American Collection and of course “Suzi Sells Sushi By The Seashore” from the Asian Collection.

What has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
I have designed every shade for the past 20 years, and that has been my number one accomplishment aside for juggling family with business.

How did you prepare yourself for the launch of the spring collection?
Generally, I look at trend predictions from Paris, Milan and New York. This year we went with South Beach. We decided on a location that would be a great inspiration for the trends, and then there are about six of us who sit together to brainstorm for the names. I don’t take credit for all the creativity.

Based on your gender, did you face any challenges climbing the corporate ladder?
I can’t say I did because I’m in a business where a lot of women are very successful. It’s women based – we make women more beautiful. I didn’t really have any challenges, and if I did, I didn’t get affected. I moved on.

What do you think is the main challenge businesswomen battle each day?
Time – there isn’t enough in the day. A manicure and pedicure is a very inexpensive service for instant gratification. I think the beauty industry rises above in tough times, as woman always want to feel and look good!

What words do you live by?
My kids are my greatest inspiration and they inspire me everyday to do better. I’m very loyal, I’m very honest, and I think those are great traits. I have a great work ethic and I’m passionate about what I do.

What women are you influenced by?
The average woman really inspires me, but my mom and my daughter do it on a personal level. My mom is 86 years old. She is in great health because she takes very good care of herself. She eats right, exercises and constantly gets her hair and nails done. My daughter is 16 and she also has great personal grooming.

What’s your favorite place to travel?

What’s your daily beauty routine?
Simple. Shampoo my hair, use a moisturizer twice a day, use cuticle oil, OPI High-Intensity Hand & Nail Cream and ChapStick.

What’s your favorite lipstick?
Chanel lip gloss called Giggle.

How do you motivate your staff?

By setting examples, allowing ideas to flow and having an open door policy. I also hate emails. I prefer when someone walks into my office to talk to me or sets up a meeting.

How do you like your manicure?
Chic. Dark polish on short nails.

Who is your muse?
My muse is the average woman. I like identifying with the consumer. The success of each collection is that you can find a colour for yourself in it. We, as women look for excitement in colour.

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  • I really enjoyed this interview. I’m a big OPI fan. My favourite is “Bubble Bath” because it’s chic and easy to maintain. I love learning about the person/people behind the brand.

    Thanks, Ellen!

  • I have a question regarding nails. I saw you on Cityline on Friday. I do know about OPI nail polish and have used it many times. I am 70 yrs. old. I have used almost every product that you could name to try and get my nails to grow. As soon as they start to grow they start separating and peeling back. If you have any suggestions or recommendations to correct this type of problem I would really appreciate hearing from you. As I said above I have over the years tried many nail treatments. But when I saw you on Cityline (which I have been watching for many years) I just thought it was at least worth asking you the question above. I hope you do not mind my asking – I really do not know where to turn. I have asked my G.P. if maybe I could be missing some vitamin or whatever – and the answer I always receive is……my blood tests are good. But, of course, I know that there is something wrong – I am always hoping to hear of something that will help. Thank you for reading this rather long e-mail. Donna

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