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OPI Co-Founder Suzi Weiss-Fischmann Q&A

OPI Co-Founder Suzi Weiss-Fischmann Interview

suzi weiss-fischmann, co-founder OPI

Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder O.P.I.

Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder of nail lacquer brand O.P.I. is a beauty industry legend. She’s criss-crossed the globe for years hosting editor dinners, instore appearances and influencer breakfasts. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing her many times throughout her career and I can honestly say fame never went to her head. Yes, even living next door to the Schwarzeneggers in Los Angeles didn’t change her one bit. So it is exciting news to see that she’s just published a memoir entitled “I’m Not Really A Waitress: How One Woman Took over the Beauty Industry…One Colour at a Time.” It’s a hilarious and educational story of her path from immigrant in Los Angeles to her global success. Here is a little interview to give you an idea of what you’ll find in the book.

I'm Not Really A Waitress book by Suzi Weiss-Fischmann

Dave: How did you get your start in the beauty industry?

Suzi: My start in the beauty industry actually came by way of the dental industry – the artificial nail extensions that were so popular in the 80s share a similar chemistry to dentures. I was in my 20s, working with my brother-in-law at a small dental supply company in L.A., and we noticed that nail technicians kept coming in to buy our products. When we realized what they were using them for, we knew we could make a safer, higher quality product. After two years of formulation I began dropping off OPI’s “Rubber Band Special” at every salon on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid, and primer, rubber-banded together, became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its entryway into the professional nail industry.

D: What’s with the crazy names for all the nail lacquers?

S: Before OPI, nail colour really wasn’t marketed to the average woman – it was marketed to nail technicians. The generic, utilitarian names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were boring and completely forgettable because they didn’t really need to be remembered. At OPI, we wanted to make a nail colour an affordable luxury for women everywhere. (That’s also why we call our product lacquer – it really is of a finer quality than plain old “polish,” but it also speaks to the feeling of luxury we wanted to give our customers.) We were the first beauty company to advertise in women’s magazines because we wanted to reach consumers directly. By giving OPI nail lacquers unique monikers, women not only remembered the colours but asked for them by name. Many of the names are designed to make people laugh (like Toucan Do It If You Try), and others are imbued with personal meanings for their wearers – like Mimosas for Mr and Mrs worn at an engagement party or It’s a Boy! or It’s a Girl used to announce a pregnancy.

D: How did you come up with the name I’m Not Really A Waitress for your trademark red?

S: In Los Angeles, “I’m not really a waitress – I’m an actress (or singer/model/artist)! is a well-known mantra. The name exemplifies that we’re more than just our job. It speaks to anyone labouring for a dream, offering a reminder that our goals are worth pursuing. This shade is more than just a colour, but a form of self-expression.

D: What was one big decision you had to make about OPI that affected the future of the business?

S: When it comes to big decisions, those are easier to define in your personal life – getting married, having kids, buying a house, etc. In business, it’s not so clear. Every day there are decisions to be made, and most often, it’s not until much later that those choices become recognizable as big decisions that change or shape your business. The key here is to make those decisions quickly and with confidence – I consider making decisions to be my “business superpower” and think its crucial to meeting the ever-changing demands a business leader must face to grow a company. For example: I once developed a colour that everyone in the office hated. They described it as “poop in a bottle”. Usually my colleagues loved my colours, or at least liked them, but everyone was in agreement that this colour was terrible. I decided to trust my gut and put it out there, and You Don’t Know Jacques became one of our most popular colours.

OPI nail lacquer in I'm Not Really A Waitress

OPI I’m Not Really A Waitress Red

D: What’s your favourite OPI colour and why?

S: Everyone wants to know which colour is my favourite, but of the many hundreds I’ve created, it’s impossible to pick just one! I can easily narrow the hue: red. I love the glamour of a perfect red nail. From there, three stand out – OPI Red earns a special place in my heart as the first red I ever created. Big Apple Red is another favourite and reminder of the city that gave me a new life after my family emigrated from Hungary when I was a little girl. Of course, I’m Not Really A Waitress, this books’ namesake and OPI’s bestselling shade, earns a spot on this list.

OPI Big Apple Red

OPI Big Apple Red

D: You are known for predicting – and setting – trends in nail colour. What you think is the next big thing?

S: In 2019, expect to see lacquer shades in pastel hues of lavender, baby blue, and pearlized white. Metallic glitter hues and embellishments like crystals will keep growing in popularity, and in nail art, negative space will be more defined and used in unique ways. In today’s era of embracing individuality, nails serve as a great medium for self-expression.

opi I'm not really a waitress book suzi weiss-fischmann

Suzi’s book “I’m Not Really A Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry..One Colour At A Time” is available at fine bookstores and online now. It’s a fun read.



  • Reply
    Paula S.
    February 4, 2023 at 11:25 pm

    I love the Opi polishes. Great quality and beautiful colors. I enjoyed the interview!

  • Reply
    Lana H
    February 1, 2023 at 11:33 am

    I love her fun inspiring story and am looking forward to reading the book.

  • Reply
    Susan T.
    January 30, 2023 at 12:08 pm

    OPI is always great quality and the names make me smile!

  • Reply
    Janet Lance
    January 17, 2023 at 7:04 pm

    The variety and colors of nail lacquers are amazing in this article. I was wondering what you thought of the stick-on nails, that is like paper and are all over the internet. My husband’s niece is into these big time and sells a lot of the different kinds. You stick them and then trim the to cover your nail. I think I would rather stick to my nail polishes, which I have quite a variety of.

  • Reply
    Pamela W.
    December 30, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    What a fascinating story, glad to learn about my favorite brand!

  • Reply
    March 24, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    I want the job naming opi shades. I’m sure some fun times are involved!!!

  • Reply
    Janice Cournoyer
    January 30, 2022 at 7:46 am

    I really like OPI nail lacquer, lots of great shades! Very interesting interview!!

  • Reply
    Irene K
    December 22, 2021 at 10:37 am

    I learn a lot, great interview

  • Reply
    Beatrice Lawson
    December 12, 2021 at 11:48 am

    Love her story and her sass. Didn’t know her story was out in a book, now I really want to read it, she sounds like a fascinating lady.

  • Reply
    Linda Bragg
    December 11, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    What a great article and interview. Being once in the Beauty industry for years, now retired, I always loved OPI polish. It was always my very favorite and still to this day is. Being a hair stylist, which I loved, I hated doing manicure and nail service on the clients!!! lol I always hated “sitting” for that time doing them and I was more about fixing hair. Doing my own nail was ok tho. I did that in my own spare time. I love reading the part about how she developed the brand. I never knew the story behind OPI product. Very interesting for sure!! I would love meeting and having a chance to talk with Suzi Weiss-Fischmann herself. She sounds fun!!!

  • Reply
    Lana Hood
    December 8, 2021 at 11:29 pm

    Great interview and learnt something new about OPI and Suzi

  • Reply
    Susan T.
    December 7, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    OPI shade names are the best! So fun!

  • Reply
    Susie Wilkinson
    December 5, 2021 at 7:34 pm

    I really like OPI nail lacquer, so many great shades!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2021 at 11:46 am

    I want to read this. Thanks great review as usual Dave ig lillianmb23 tw lillianmb23

  • Reply
    Trisha Pedros
    May 2, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    So interesting! Love OPI and enjoyed reading and getting know Suzi Weiss-Fischmann! Thank you, Dave!!

  • Reply
    Tracy F
    April 30, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Love opi! Definitely enjoyed this interview

  • Reply
    April 25, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Very cool ! What an interesting woman, I always wondered about her and how she developed the brand that has definitely set it’s spot at the top of the nail empire!

  • Reply
    Anna Roszak-Robinson
    April 20, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Love this!

  • Reply
    Pam Moore
    April 16, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Fascinating read! I love OPI. I’d love to read this book. I love the unique and clever names of the colors! ????❤️

    • Reply
      Dolly Denault
      April 24, 2019 at 3:36 pm

      This is great !!

  • Reply
    April 15, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Wonderful! I first saw the OPI line at a nail salon.

  • Reply
    Michelle Conn
    April 12, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Very interesting!

  • Reply
    Annette P.
    April 12, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Great interview! So nice to know the co-creator of one of my favorite polish lines is such a nice person,

  • Reply
    Adele Wright
    April 12, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Great interview. She is so relatable and her nail polishes are legendary.

  • Reply
    Anita Singh
    April 12, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Very nice, good to know about A to Z of OPI

    Love the shades too ????????

  • Reply
    April 12, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    wonderful interview! so cool to learn about OPI and Suzi.


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