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Be Your Own Customer First

They don’t bat an eye.

Schaeffer believes that such "hands-on" research is the only way to really understand his customers’ needs. So he has no hesitation about wearing the competition’s nail polish or testing every new OPI product on himself.

"I try everything," he says. "How else am I going to know if it works?"

It’s this commitment to quality that has helped Schaeffer propel North Hollywood, Calif.-based OPI Products Inc. from its rudimentary beginnings (with just two employees) in 1981 into a company that posted more than $50 million in sales last year.

Schaeffer is happy to make himself a guinea pig instead of putting out inferior product. "I’m sure I’m quite a sight wearing lipstick, especially with my beard and all," he says. "People thought I was weird, but I learned all about the taste and smell."

Schaeffer’s unusual test-marketing style may generate fewer looks when OPI expands the line to include men’s products.