10 Facts Even the Biggest Essie Fans Don’t Know
A wall of Essie nail polish is about as Instagram worthy as the perfect piece of avocado toast—probably more. Long before brands were venturing out of red, pink, and coral territory, Essie was making blues, greens, and berries. As a result, the brand has one of, if not the, most impressive (and photogenic) polish assortments available. But the whimsical colours are only part of the reason Essie has earned a cult following—there's so such more to that story. How much do you know? Scroll through to find out!
In 1981, Essie Weingarten packed a suitcase full of nail polish and booked a flight to Las Vegas. She peddled her 12-piece polish collection door to door, or rather hotel salon to hotel salon, showing off her hand-painted swatches of unique colours. Why Las Vegas? The city is teeming dancers, showgirls, waitresses, and tourists—all people for whom looking perfectly polished is key. Together with the fact that these people also happen to have disposable income made Sin City the logical place for Weingarten to start.
Essie Nail Polish in Ballet Slippers ($17)
Ballet Slippers ($17), inspired by Essie Weingarten’s beloved childhood pair, was created the second year the company was in business. It wasn’t long before the pale pink polish became a best seller. Ten years ago, it was selling about 20,000 bottles a week. By 2012, 40 bottles were being sold every hour in the U.S. alone.
In 1989, Essie Weingarten received a letter from the queen of England’s personal hairdresser requesting to purchase Ballet Slippers for Her Majesty. Weingarten promptly shipped the award-winning nail polish to Buckingham Palace. And rumour has it it’s still the only shade the queen will wear. (Barbra Streisand, Essie’s first celebrity client, is also a fan.)
Essie Nail Polish in Blanc ($17)
The line started with three shades: Bordeaux ($17), a rich wine colour, as the name implies; Blanc ($17), a stark white; and Baby’s Breath, a soft white designed to create more natural-looking French manicures. The three original shades are still in the permanent collection today (and continue to sell quite well).
Essie Nail Polish in Fiesta ($12)
The fuchsia hue of Essie’s Fiesta ($12)—a shade still circulating from the first collection—came from a pincushion (of all places). Essie Weingarten brought her raspberry/fuchsia satin pincushion to her first chemist, and the rest is history. As the years went on, Weingarten continued the tradition of bringing in beautifully coloured objects for the chemists to colour match.
Essie Nail Polish in Mademoiselle ($12)
The legacy of Mademoiselle magazine lives on in Essie’s Mademoiselle ($12). Years before Chanel launched its famous Coco Mademoiselle fragrance, the magazine asked Essie to create an exclusive colour. The request? A universally flattering sheer pink. The polish remains a best seller today and is a noted favourite of Essie Weingarten herself.
Essie Nail Polish in Allure ($12)
Remember the shade Kate Middleton wore to her wedding? Like Mademoiselle, that shade was created for a magazine: Allure. The glossy solicited Essie to create a custom colour-without-colour shade, akin to nail foundation. And thus, Allure ($9) the nail colour (and second shade to publicly receive love from the Royal Family) was born.
Did you know any of these facts? Tell us which ones in the comments below!