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用自己的名字攻占25000家美甲店

ShivaniVora 2015年12月06日

在知名美甲品牌Essie背后,真的有一个名叫艾茜的女人。该品牌创始人艾茜•温卡登近日接受了《财富》采访,谈她是如何从“单调”的颜色中发现商机,创立一个国际知名品牌的。

在知名美甲品牌Essie背后,真的有一个名叫艾茜的女人。艾茜•温卡登的美甲生意是从一瓶波尔多开始的。需要指出的是,我们讨论的是美甲,而不是红酒。

她创立的Essie(现为欧莱雅集团拥有)无疑是美甲界最知名的品牌之一,也是数百万喜爱美甲的女性最青睐的品牌之一。仅仅在美国,就有超过2.5万家美甲沙龙提供它的产品。Essie的产品线共有250多种颜色,我们刚刚提到的深红色的“波尔多红”,就是温卡登最早的产品之一。

今年66岁的艾茜•温卡登是土生土长的纽约人。她在皇后区的霍利斯山长大,自幼就喜爱时尚,毕业于位于曼哈顿的时尚技术学院。大学毕业后,她在时尚领域先后从事了几份工作,曾在亨利班德尔公司礼品部担任过助理采购员,但她一直想成立自己的公司。1981年,温卡登用拿出她的全部积蓄,用1万美元创立了Essie品牌。

不到一年,Essie的美甲油就出现在全美各地的1万多家美甲店之中,并且开始盈利。等到2010年欧莱雅集团以一个未披露的价格将其收购时,Essie的产品已经出口到107个国家。

现在,温卡登与她的丈夫迈克斯•索尔蒂诺共同生活在纽约市。索尔蒂诺今年59岁,在将Essie卖给欧莱雅之前,曾担任Essie的CEO。最近温卡登接受了《财富》采访,谈到是什么启发她创立了Essie,它又是如何在极短的时间内做大的,以及拉斯维加斯为什么是创办美甲品牌的好地方。以下采访记录有删节。

《财富》:是什么让你产生了创办一个美甲品牌的想法?

艾茜•温卡登:我一直想有一家属于自己的公司,因为我来自一个盛产企业家的家族。不过当时我并不确定要创办一家什么样的公司,但我很喜欢做美甲。在我小时候,如果我哪一周表现得很好,我妈妈就会在周六带我去美甲店做美甲。我记得当时可供选择的甲油颜色很单调,于是我产生了创办一个高质量的美甲品牌的想法——它们不会掉色,而且颜色能够维持一周到十天。

《财富》:Essie为什么很快就获得了成功?

艾茜•温卡登:这要归功于一次到拉斯维加斯的旅行。我用工作时攒下的一万美金,在新泽西州的一个实验室里研制了12种颜色,其中就包括波尔多红,它目前仍在Essie的产品线里,而且依然非常受欢迎。

当时我必须要找到把产品打入市场的法子,我觉得拉斯维加斯是个好地方,因为在赌场里工作的女性们要经常展示她们的双手。然后我用塑料袋包了很多样品,飞到了拉斯维加斯。当时的拉斯维加斯大约有100家美甲店,我挨家拜访,赠送样品,告诉店主如果他们喜欢这些颜色,就给我打电话。

不到一个月,每家店主都给我打电话,要求订货。才过了短短几周,我就收到了来自全国各地的美甲店的订货电话。那些在拉斯维加斯期间做了美甲的女性,会向店主要求把那些颜色带回家,所以店主们就会给我打电话订货。不到一年,全国有一万多家美甲店都在用我的产品。第二年,我的产品已经走向国际了。

《财富》:作为企业家,你在创业的过程中犯过什么错误?

艾茜•温卡登:我犯了很多错误,但我认为最大的一个错误是,一开始我没有把自己的名字印在瓶子上。实际上,我们直到1999年才正式把Essie的Logo刻在了瓶子上。品牌对任何一家企业都非常重要,因为人们买的就是品牌。

刚开始创业的时候,我也从来没有打过广告,因为我认为口碑才是最好的营销。这一点直到社交媒体已经非常普遍的今天也是非常正确的。不过我们的主要市场是美甲店和分销商,而不是消费者。我们直到1988年才开始在出版物上打广告,然后我们对目标市场的接触面也变宽了很多。

《财富》:除了从错误中学习,在企业的成长过程中,你学到的最有价值的一课是什么?

艾茜•温卡登:永远聘请比你更聪明的人,以及那些擅长你所不擅长的领域的人。对我来说,这个领域就是人力资源。我没有人力资源经验,所以我聘请了一位人力资源经理。

《财富》:欧莱雅收购Essie的前因后果是怎样的?

艾茜•温卡登:欧莱雅在2005年第一次联系我,商讨收购事宜,当时我拒绝了。然后经济危机爆发了。我们的发展势头非常好,但我们需要建立一家新工厂,因为我们增长得太快了。我对那笔投资感到很紧张,所以当欧莱雅再次提出收购邀约时,我同意了。这笔交易发生于2010年6月25日。

《财富》:在这次交易后,你还保留着创意的控制权吗?

艾茜•温卡登:在收购前,我负责颜色开发和命名。收购完成后,尽管我还是公司的创意总监,但我本人也变成了团队的一部分,它也不再是我的孩子了。最后的决策也不是由我来拍板。

《财富》:你现在还在参与品牌的建设吗?

艾茜•温卡登:这么说吧,如果他们需要我的话,我随时都在。

《财富》:今年年初的时候,《纽约时报》写了一系列关于美甲店老板剥削美甲师的文章。你对此怎样看?

艾茜•温卡登:不管你信不信,我其实并不熟悉美甲店文化。我曾经与美甲店老板和经销商们通过电话打过交道,但我并不知道他们的日常工作情况是什么样的。所以当我读到这些文章时,我感到很震惊,觉得很可怕。

《财富》:你对那些具有抱负的女性企业家有什么建议?

艾茜•温卡登:跟随你的直觉和激情,要知道成功不等于冒险。在我刚开始创业的时候,我几乎每周7天、每天24小时不眠不休的工作,因为从全球各地打来的销售电话几乎都要由我本人来接。由于时差问题,我基本上睡不了觉。所以,我的建议是你需要100%的投入。你不能利用业余时间去创业。

《财富》:你现在没有全职工作了,是否会感到无聊?

艾茜•温卡登:对我来说,这个词压根不存在。迈克斯和我经常去剧场,我们经常自己做饭,而且我们很享受生活。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

审校:任文科

 

Yes, there is a real “Essie” behind the popular nail polish brand. Essie Weingarten explains how her frustration with “boring” colors sparked an international beauty business.

Yes, there is a real “Essie” behind the popular nail polish brand.Essie Weingarten began her business with a bottle of Bordeaux. We’re talking about the nail polish here, not the wine.

Her Essie brand, now owned by L’Oreal, is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable names in nail polish and a mainstay for millions of women who get regular manicures. In the U.S. alone, more than 25,000 salons carry a selection of the 250 or so colors that make up the line—including the deep red Bordeaux, one of Weingarten’s initial creations.

A born and bred New Yorker, the 66-year-old grew up in Hollis Hills, Queens with a love for fashion and graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. A handful of jobs in the field followed, including working as an assistant buyer in the gifts department at Henri Bendel, but she always wanted her own company. In 1981, Weingarten gathered her life savings of $10,000 and launched Essie.

Within a year, the bottles were in more than 10,000 salons around the country and generating profits; by the time L’Oreal bought Essie in 2010 for an undisclosed sum, the polish company had a presence in more than a 107 countries.

Today, Weingarten lives in New York City with her husband Max Sortino, 59, who was the CEO of the eponymous line before the sale. She talked to Fortune about what inspired her to create Essie, how it got so big, so quickly, and why Las Vegas is the perfect place to launch a nail polish line. The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Fortune: What gave you the idea to start a nail polish business?

Essie Weingarten: I always knew I wanted to have my own company because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I wasn’t sure what it would be, but I loved getting my nails done. When I was little, my mom used to take me to the salon on Saturdays for a manicure if I was good that week, and I remember that the color choices of the polishes were usually boring. So, I got this idea to create fashionable and high-quality shades—they wouldn’t chip and would last a week to ten days.

How did the line take off so quickly?

A trip to Las Vegas did it. I used the $10,000 I had saved away from working and got 12 colors of polish made at a lab in New Jersey, including Bordeaux which is still part of the line and still popular.

I had to figure out a way to market what I’d created and thought Las Vegas would be perfect because the women working there in the casinos showed their hands a lot. I flew out there and made little kits of all the colors using plastic bags. There were probably about a 100 salons in Vegas back then, and I went to each one and gave them out and told the owners that if they liked the shades, they should call me.

Within a week, every single one called with orders and within a few weeks, I was getting calls from salons around the country. Women who were visiting Las Vegas and got manicures while they were there requested the colors at their salons back home so those owners then called me with orders. Within a year, I was in 10,000 salons, and the next year, I got picked up internationally.

As an entrepreneur, what mistakes did you make along the way?

I made plenty, but I think the biggest one was in the beginning when I didn’t put my name on the bottles. In fact, they had no label until 1999 when we finally got the bottles made with Essie etched on the glass. Branding is key to any business because people want to buy a brand.

I also never advertised when I started because I thought word of mouth was the way to grow. That is true especially today when social media is so prevalent, but our primary market was salons and distributors, not direct consumers, and when we did start advertising in trade publications in 1988, our reach to our target market became that much wider.

Besides learning from your mistakes, what’s the most valuable lesson you learned as your business grew?

Always hire people who are smarter than you and have an expertise in something which is your weakness. For me, it was HR. I had no HR experience at all so I hired an HR manager.

How did the sale with L’Oreal transpire?

The company first approached me in 2005 about buying me, and I said no. Then the recession happened. We were doing amazing business but needed a new facility because we were growing so fast. I was really nervous to make the investment so when L’Oreal came to me again, I agreed. The sale happened on June 25th, 2010.

Did you retain creative control after the sale?

Up until we sold, I was doing the color development and the naming, but after, even though I was still the creative director, I became part of a team, and it wasn’t my baby anymore. The final decision was no longer mine.

Are you still involved with the brand today?

Let’s just say that I’m here if they need me.

Earlier this year, the New York Times wrote a series of articles on the widespread exploitation of manicurists by salon owners. What are your thoughts on the issue?

Believe it or not, I was never privy to salon culture. I used to deal with salon owners and distributors usually by phone and didn’t know what was going on day-to-day so when I read the articles, I was shocked. I find it horrifying.

What advice do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Follow your gut and passion, and know that being successful is not a crapshoot. When I started, I worked 24/7 because I was handling all the sales calls around the world myself, and given the different time zones, I was always awake. So, I’d also that you need a 100% commitment. You can’t do it part-time.

Are you bored now not working full-time?

For me, that word doesn’t exist. Max and I go to the theater a lot, we cook a lot, and we enjoy life.

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