Known worldwide as the “First Lady of Nails,” OPI Co-Founder & Brand Ambassador Suzi Weiss-Fischmann emigrated from Hungary in 1966. She made her mark on the beauty industry in 1989, when she created the first 30 OPI nail lacquers. She is a co-founder of OPI, which began as a small dental product supply company 40 years ago. The name actually stands for Odontorium Products Incorporated. She and her brother in law George Schaeffer recognized that “making dentures was similar to making acrylic nails.” Long story short: “A chemist put together three products for us, to create artificial nail extensions.” She rubber-banded them together, and walked up and down Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles, to all the nail salons. All the technicians raved about “the rubber band special” and the rest is history. “It’s the American Dream story but it’s for real,” Suzi told me. While at the helm of OPI, I’m Not Really a Waitress, one of her best-known colors, was heralded as the perfect shade of red by women across the globe. Allure inducted this lacquer into its Beauty Hall of Fame in 2011, after it won the Best Nail Polish award nine times.
OPI was sold to Coty eight years ago for “alot of money,” she says humbly. (The New York Times reported that Coty bought OPI for $1 Billion.) Suzi traveled constantly for OPI, to trade shows, sales meetings, public relations events — and more. Now she travels solely for pleasure. From her home in Los Angeles, she shared her luxury travel tips with me.
What was your first big travel splurge?
I never felt that “I made it” and I’m gonna buy a boat. It was never that kind of feeling. We live comfortably. I never had that specific “aha” moment.
Our first big travel splurge? We went to Hawaii — My husband and the two kids. We stayed at the Grand Wailea hotel on Maui. All those slides! That was our big first vacation, for a week. I loved the hotel — it was amazing. It had anything and everything kids could want. I’m an ice-cream-aholic, and I loved the Dots ice cream that they serve by the pool at the hotel. We first went in 1996. We’ve gone back many years, many times, when the kids were little.
As they got older, we stayed next door at the Four Seasons Maui. Love everything about it. When I go for long walks in the morning, I get up early, go for my walks, and it’s so tranquil, it’s so peaceful, and the food and service is amazing and great. Nothing not to love about the Four Seasons Maui – or any Four Seasons in the world. At Spago, we get the little cones with spicy tuna. And the staff is so nice. I always said, “It doesn’t matter what you do, you need to be passionate about your work.” And that’s what the staff is like at the Four Seasons hotels. You can tell when someone feels like that.
What’s your favorite airline and why?
It’s the one where I can get an upgrade. It’s huge. My goal when traveling is to get an upgrade. Delta, American. Best first-class experience was on Air France. They take you by car to the plane, and it’s amazing. At Charles de Gaulle, in Paris, the Air France lounge is like going to a first-class restaurant and you can have any food you want. I love the bread and butter, and a cup of coffee and I’m so happy. And give me a potato every which way you can imagine. I sleep on the plane — something happens to me when I fly. I’m very lucky. It has really allowed me to travel and not be exhausted. I don’t need to take any sleeping medicines.
What’s your favorite luggage?
Rimowa — that’s my luggage. And I always try to do carry-on whenever possible. That’s the goal. I can get by on one pair of black heels if I’m just going for three or four days.
What are your must-haves when traveling?
I collect Hermes scarves — ever since high school. I got one as a gift when I was 18, and I fell in love with the scarves. When I could afford it, I started collecting them. I always travel with Hermes scarves. I love to tie then on my back, around my neck, on my coat. It’s my favorite accessory. And I always have ChapStick, eye drops, and moisturizer. I love Sisley products. And I get a manicure every week.
Where’s your next trip?
We’re actually going to Singapore and Hong Kong, on my son’s next spring break Last spring break we went to Japan. I love Japan and everything about it — the service, the people, the respect, the food. We flew Delta and it was great. No matter what airline, if the crew is great, the experience is better. In Kyoto we stayed at the Ritz, and in Tokyo we stayed at the Aman. We loved the view of the city from our room, and the service, the shower, and amenities. There were slippers by the door. That was the special touch — they were always lined up by the door. …Life is all about experiences, and each trip adds to the experience of different food, cultures and people. The human interaction is very special, when you actually meet and talk to people in different countries. It’s so different than social media.