Spotlight on Polish Entrepreneurs: Essie Weingarten

There are so many nail polish brands out there, with so many people working behind them to make sure that your talons look amazing. Today we want to focus on one person in particular, who we bet you don’t know has worked so hard for so many years to make your polish dreams come true- Essie Weingarten- creator of Essie. Essie is one of the most popular nail polish brands in America, offering its consumers a huge range of color options, all with their cheeky and playful names.

The brand was born out of Essie Weingarten’s passion for the product. Essie grew up in the 50’s and as a young girl was fascinated with nail polish, but during her youth was limited to a set range of colors for her nails. The conservative 50’s meant that she was restricted to reds and pinks or maybe a beige or nude. This frustrated her immensely, “I felt, as a little girl, that the colors in the salon were quite boring”.

The frustration fuelled her passion and in the early 1980’s, Weingarten partnered with a chemist to create her first 12 colors, 3 of which are still available for purchase today. Twelve would grow to over nine hundred in just 34 years.

With her first collection, Weingarten flew to Vegas where she knew she could create high demand for her product. “If I go to Las Vegas, I have more women with disposable income than anywhere else. I have my dealers, my dancers, my cocktail waitresses, my showgirls. And they all had to be well groomed, well dressed and they were in front of the public at the time. So if I could get them to wear it and talk about it, it would spread like wildfire,” she said. Essie visited all of the beauty salons in the casino-hotels in Vegas to leave samples of her products, within 10 days every one had called her to place an order. It was Essie’s first staff hire, her husband, who suggested she name the brand after herself. She was horrified, but admits that he was right.

In 1982 the brand went international, selling in Japan first then England and France. The brand became popular not only in stores, but also in the bright lights of Hollywood. In 1983 Joan Rivers were ‘Jelly Apple’ on the Tonight Show. In 1989, Queen Elizabeth’s hairdresser wrote a letter to Essie, requesting an order of the color ‘Ballet Slippers’, as it was the color of choice of her majesty and she would only wear that color. Weingarten describes receiving a letter embossed with the Royal Crest as “the turning point in my life”. The royal love of Essie continued when Princess Catherine Middleton wore Essie on her wedding day in 2011.

Essie won their first award in 1996, winning one of Allure Magazine’s ‘Best of Beauty Awards’ for ‘Best Nail Polish Colors. Essie has continued to win awards since then, including those from Instyle Magazine, Redbook, Women’s Health & Fitness Magazine and Cosmo Magazine. In 2013 it was announced that the color ‘Bikini so Teeny’ was the number one selling nail color of all time.

The company was making $28 million in annual sales when it was sold to L’Oreal. After selling her company in 2010 Essie has stepped back from day-to-day work with the brand and now serves as their global brand consultant. As Essie once said, “not bad for a little girl from Queens”, we agree Essie it’s not bad at all!

Mette Jorgensen

Our Editor Mette is a fan of a glitter manicure, she can often be found pleading with her manicurist for just one more coat to achieve the ultimate sparkle. She's Australian so forgive her for occasionally writing in British English.

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