Interview with Essie Weingarten from Essie Nail Polish

15 November 2013

WORDS BY Fashion Quarterly New Zealand

Essie Weingarten and her nail polish
Essie Weingarten and her nail polish

We are all pretty excited about nails right now. Not surprising, with the variety of colour and sparkle at our fingertips – in any shade or texture. Once expertly lacquered, nails have the ability to update your look in seconds. Which brings me to a fairy tale story of pretty, pink polish. The colour is Mademoiselle (a soft pink), and the polish is Essie created by New Yorker and entrepreneur Essie Weingarten, who reveals Mademoiselle is universally flattering on anyone. “One coat of Mademoiselle is brilliant. My husband, Max, wears one coat and no one can tell,” she says.

The story began 30 years ago when a young hosiery saleswoman wanted to make a nail polish that ‘would go on like silk, but wear like iron’. She was bored with the frosted reds and corals on offer in the 80s and figured ‘if she was bored by them other women must be too’.  Launching 12 unconventional colours, her eponymously named polish, quickly became the pick of celebrities including Madonna and the Queen of England. From that initial dazzling dozen, the collection has blossomed over the years, with more than 200 shades-including the top-seller, Ballet Slippers, (also a nude pink) which has sold more than 5 million bottles across the globe. Now in the safe hands of L’Oreal (they acquired Essie in 2010) you can expect to see even more colour collections available nationwide with a re-launch happening this month, throughout Farmers stores and pharmacy. We caught up with the Weingarten and asked her why she thinks great-looking nails are our best accessory.

Why are nails important as a fashion accessory?

When others look at you, they notice three things: your eyes, your shoes and your hands. Hands are so expressive and they make a statement about who you are. If your hands are well-kept, then it follows that you are well-kept, organised and have everything together.

Nail polish has become a true ‘it accessory’. Why?

Hands say a lot, they’re an extension of you. And colour adds to that story. A fun colour means you have a lot of personality and style. A sheer colour says you are more traditional, or at least, you’re feeling more traditional today. You can change your look whenever you change your colour. It’s easy and you’re only investing as much or as little time as you want to in your chosen style statement.


How important a role has celebrity influence played in Essie’s evolution?

We’ve been very lucky. Women everywhere love our colours and some fans happen to be very famous. They love us and tell the world without being a paid endorsement.

Which famed celebrities are known to be Essie devotees?

It’s dangerous to name some and not others, we’re grateful to all of them. But since you are asking: Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie ,Mary J. Blige, Hillary Clinton, Salma Hayek-Pinault, Rihanna, Serena Williams, Madonna… just to name a few.

What’s your best nail advice?

Always push back the cuticles, don’t cut – the more you cut, the more it grows. Keep cuticle oil on your nightstand or by your desk. Always use a basecoat because it protects your nails and helps the polish stay clear. We like you to wait two minutes between each coat so you have time for it to set. I always like to do two coats.

Who is your biggest fashion influence?

My mother Blanche of course.

Essie Nail Polish
Lilacism, Fiji and Bachelorette Bash from the new Essie collection

To check out the latest range visit www.essie.com


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