Video Transcript

00:08 Essie Weingarten: It all started in 1981 where I loved getting my nails done when I was a little girl. So it was passion. That’s exactly where it started. I felt it 1981. What did I love to do as a little girl? I loved getting my nails done on Saturday. My mother would take me to the beauty parlor if I was a good girl. So it was a treat. And the treat I would forward to because I was the little devil all the other days of the week until Saturday came about and I had to be good if I wanted to go. And there was only two brands at that particular point in the beauty industry that sold to beauty salons. And one was Revlon and the other L’Oreal. And the colors that they did were quite boring in my humble opinion.

01:15 Weingarten: So after working for I think one of the most talented women in the world, I worked with Geraldine Stutz at Henri Bendel, which was a very unique store way back when. It was a boutique that sold designers from all over the world. She had an incredible eye. And she used to say to me one day, you’re very tenacious. You’re going to have your own business. What did it mean to me then? I was going to FIT in the evening, working at Bendel’s during the day, but that story always sat back in the back of mind.

01:52 Weingarten: And ultimately what happened was I decided, hm, nothing has really changed in the nail polish arena for beauty salons. Now when I saw beauty salons I’m looking at a lot of you. In 1981 you probably weren’t even born or you were in diapers. However, it was a different world. You went to the beauty parlor. You sat. You had your hair washed. Then they would set it with rollers. You sat under a helmet, a net and a helmet, those clips? And if you were lucky Molly the manicurist would be rolling around in the salon on this one little chair. And she’d do everyone’s nails if they’re wanted their nails done. Well today I don’t have to tell you nail salons are more important than hair salons. But that was just good fortune. What I did in 1981 was follow my dream. I felt if I could find a chemist that would listen to me, come up with a formula that was completely different than all the other nail polish on the market, so would be long wearing. It would go like silk. It would wear like iron. And women wouldn’t have to worry about what their nails looked like because it would wear great for a whole week to ten days. So that’s exactly where it started.

03:14 Weingarten: Well, I thought that would be easy. There were no computers. Yeah there were big IBM mainframes, but there was no such thing as a laptop, an iPod, an iPad, nothing. There were yellow pages and there were green books. So, ladies and gentlemen, trust me if I was able to do it in 1981 with none of the resources that are available to you every single day, I’m looking at the next gazillionaires because no one can do it better than you. Trust me. If you have passion, love, follow your dream. Don’t worry about what’s going on to the right of you, to the left of you. Just follow your gut instinct because we can talk about how everything happens. I never was one to sit and analyze. I just went with my gut. And I always hired people that were smarter than me, which is another really good key. So remember that.

04:20 Weingarten: When you find good people that’s great. You’re amazing. But when you find smart people that really and truly will get the work done, and what’s really important is I was never afraid to get my hands dirty. I would do it all. So there was no one that could say to me, but you want to do that? I did it with them. So we all worked as a team. And I didn’t ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t do. So there I started looking for a chemist. That I did by myself. Well everyone was a chemist. I said something here doesn’t make sense. What do you want? I said I want something completely different. I want a formula that would go on like silk, wear like iron, absolutely would look wet. I could do it. Okay, give me samples.

05:12 Weingarten: Once you get samples in your hand and you can try it yourself it doesn’t take long before you know if someone’s got the goods or someone doesn’t. I am not a chemist. I never thought I’d be a chemist. It wasn’t one of my desires but I knew the properties that I needed. And once I got the right formula I said this guy knows what he’s talking about. And basically I started once he gave me something that I loved that went on the right way, and the application was great and wearability was there I gave him twelve pieces of art, the fabric, pincushions, all colors that I loved that I was saving. And I started with twelve colors, which if you start a business today, and I don’t care what business you’re in, with twelve colors people would laugh at you. But in 1981 twelve colors, twelve great colors, as a matter of fact three of the original twelve colors are still very important and in the line today. That speaks volumes about being timeless, classic and fashionable. So if you give people what they love they stay with it. Yes everyone always wants something new. That’s the icing on the cake because you have to keep it interesting and you have to keep them wanting and seeing, but at the end of the day they love it. They’ll try it and they go back to the classics.

06:45 Weingarten: So going back to the story, I know I’m going back and forth, and it’s just such an amazing opportunity to find where we started in 1981 with twelve colors and three treatments, and really the first place I went that was not kidding was to Las Vegas. And it was before 2001. I was able to take on a plane ten cartons weighing sixty-three pounds. All you had to do is the give the guy, the skycap at the airport $20. He put all the packages on the plane, no questions asked, what’s in it today, oh my God, nail polish, boom, it’s an explosive. You can’t put it on a plane. It’s hazardous materials. It’s Class 1263, no way. That’s the way the world has changed, but this is what we have to live with. And we just adapt, and we change, and we move and we do what we have to do.

07:42 Weingarten: But being able to do that was the opportunity that opened up the whole world. And people say why did you go to Vegas in 1981? I went to Vegas because I found women with disposable income. Ladies, in 1981 there weren’t women working. We were not in the work force. Think about the jobs we had. We could have been a secretary and we could have been like some other back kind of nothing too important. But in Vegas I had my dealers, my dancers, my cocktail waitresses, my showgirls. I had everything. I even had hookers. I had women that had to be dressed from head to toe. They had to be perfect. And they were my business card to the world because people would say, oh my God, what do have on your toes, or what do have on your hands? The color is great. They were wearing Bordeaux. They were wearing Blonde. They were wearing Baby’s Breath. And when you’re in a half light that they were wearing Ballet Slippers, and they’re still wearing those colors today.

08:52 Weingarten: So by doing Vegas first not only did I have women with disposable income, I had women that would travel, going to Vegas with their husbands either on a business conference, and years ago not necessarily that many conventions in Vegas as much as, okay, a weekend in Vegas at the tables, lots of money. Here’s money. Go do whatever you want. There was not a lot of shopping Vegas then. Today Vegas, you go to Vegas you go shopping. But years ago what did you do? If you were a woman and you didn’t want to gamble you had to go to a beauty salon or the spa. And then they went back to Texas, or they went back to Chicago. Or they went back to Florida. And the next thing you know I started getting phone calls from all over the country. And they said I tried this product and I don’t know where to get it. And the hotels in Vegas and the beauty salons in Vegas were the ones that were giving the phone number because it was like how do I find this company. Today you just Google, right, no problem. You can find whatever you want.

10:04 Weingarten: So that being said, salon by salon, and then in 1982 another phenomenon happened. Nail salons started to open. So did I know this was going to happen? I had no idea. But I felt there was a niche market. I loved the way I felt as a little girl getting my nails done so I can imagine all the other women and young ladies and girls that if they had that experience would enjoy it. And then with the infiltration of all these nail salons starting to happen and the price of manicures coming down, because years ago you had to be very wealthy to get a manicure. Today everyone can afford a manicure. Not only did it make you feel special, make you feel queen for a day, it finishes the outfit. And if you don’t want to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe, all you have to do is change your nail color and you have a whole new outfit. And it’s a conversation piece, not just amongst women. Men will say what are you wearing?

11:25 Weingarten: It was 1982 when Joan Rivers was on Johnny Carson, and I was watching it and she - Johnny Carson said, what are you wearing? And she said, I’m wearing Jelly Apple. Well I’m like, oh my God, I’m on TV in Jelly Apple. They’re talking about my Jelly Apple. My girly just made it. I thought I made it until I got the letter from Her Majesty’s hairdresser. And it said the Queen of England would like to know if you would sell me Ballet Slippers for the Queen of England. And I called and I said, would I? I would get on a plane today and deliver it. And then as time goes on one story leads to another story. Kate Middleton wore Allure to her wedding. I mean these are things that we all say, oh my God, if it happened to me am I still you know? Yeah it’s me. How can I be so lucky? But it can happen to all of you.

12:22 Weingarten: And why do I know it can happen to you? Because you all are here because you care. And you’re starting something from scratch or you started something already. Just follow your dream. I am so convinced that if you love what you’re doing you will be successful at it. Yeah not every day is a perfect day. And not - you’ll have obstacles because if you don’t have obstacles there’s something wrong. You’ll never grow. If you don’t try something different not everything you do is perfect, but we all learn from our mistakes. If we don’t learn from our mistakes then we’re not doing something right. The most important thing is that you don’t feel that you’re going to work every day. I never went to work. I had such a good time, good experiences, fair experiences, not so good experiences, but every single experience made us stronger and we learned from them.