Romanian Jessica Vartoughian has gain respect from the White House to Buckingham Palace. ”The First Lady of Natural Nails”, how was named by Time magazine, found success in Beverly Hills where she was endorsed by many celebrities. Her high class clientele included President Ronald Reagan, his wife, First Lady Nancy Reagan and Princess Diana.
Recently, Jessica Vartoughian visited Romania and I had the opporunity of meeting with her at the launching event of her most recent collection of nail polish, Pop Couture. Jessica’s story, the romanian who gain her succes in the United States of America thanks to her european education in nail care, it’s like a movie.
She was born in Bucharest, Romania, in an Armenian family, and in 1962 she emigrated to America, where her family already was. Jessica was 16 years old back then and she wished continuing her studies, but due to lack of money she had to find herself a job. Her passion and knowledge helped her to become a manicurist at a cosmetic salon in Beverly Hills. Her luck or let’s say ”the audition of her life”, as she recalls it, was when Lucille Balle, a famous actresse from the ’60’s stopped by at the salon when the young Romanian was working. Jessica, who’s signature is “natural manicure,” known today as the French Manicure, was the one who did her nail. The result was stunning, and Lucille was so impressed by the look that she sent her other famous actresses.
Jessica Vartoughian began her success and continued to build a loyal high class clientele, which has included President Ronald Reagan and his wife, First Lady Nancy Reagan, at The White House, or Princess Diana, at Buckingham Palace.
The Romanian wanted to develop a industry of nail care with innovative products and treatments, so in 1969 she opened the first salon just for nails in United States and from all over the world, located on Sunset Boulevard, in Hollywood. Here was developed the Natural Nail Innovation System, that offers revolutionary and healthy alternative to traditional nail care.
Jessica’s Nail Clinic has quickly become one of the most popular salons in Los Angeles and was frequented by business women and men, fashion and beauty personalities as much as celebrities. Some of the best known of his famous clients are: Demi Moore, Drew Barymore, Madonna, Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jodie Foster and more.
Interview Jessica Vartoughian: “The most incredible hands I have ever seen are Barbra Streisand’s”
Do you think that one of the reasons for your success was confidence in yourself?
I had lots of guts, but I knew what I was doing. When I began doing nails I was asking for eight dollars while my collegues were asking for two dollars. It was also my pride and I worked with passion. Then I developed my products with passion.
How does the manicure of famous people look like?
The most incredible hands I have ever seen in my life are Barbra Streisand’s. She has long fingers with long nails, but not too much, which is lovely. Barbra had a boyfriend, Pieter, a very famous hairdresser in Beverly Hills, and she heard about me from him, back in the 80’s. Sometimes I used to went to her house, sometimes she gets to my salon, but mostly people from my staff are going to her place. I’m not much at the salon because I travel a lot.
Lady Diana, Ronald Regan and his wife, Nancy Regan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna, Demi Moore were some of your clients. That’s impressive!
Yes. Demi Moore is still coming to the salon. She had some problems in the last few years but now she’s back to her strength. Sarah Jessica Parker even if she is living in New York City comes also to the salon whenever she gets to Los Angeles. The other day, the english actress Helen Mirren, she didn’t had an appointment, but she knows our place and she just walked in and she got her nails done.
Sarah Jessica Parker comes to the salon whenever she gets to Los Angeles.
Did you become friends with some of these celebrities?
Joanne Carson was a friend. She knew my children she seen my grand children. I usually keep a distance between me and my clients and I also train my girls to keep a distance between clients and them.
What is your bussiness model?
I like to follow everything, to see what you do before it goes out. I’m a perfectionist in my own way and I want to be sure. This is me, this is who I am. I’m trying very hard, I’m trying to delegate, but still every day I have a report of what they (the staff) do, what meetings are scheduled, even if i’m far away from Beverly Hills. And then if I have a problem I make notes and I call them. But i’m not doing this at night because I can’t sleep then. If i’m thinking at the problems this keeps me up.
You invented the french manicure.
Yes I did.
But only a few people know about this. Why did you named it french?
I called it ”Natural Look” and Jeff Pink did that. He did the name “French Manicure”, but I designed first. Time Magazine wrote about that many years ago.
Lady Diana was an incredible woman.
What can you tell us about the nail transplant?
The nail transplant is very beautiful. And a famous person I did a nail transplant is Diana Ross when she did the movie ”Lady Sings the Blues” (1972). She was biting her nails.
I heard that Lady Diana had the same problem.
She did, but i can tell you that she didn’t knew me at first. After i began doing her nails, at Buckingham Palace, everything changed. Lady Diana had small nails, but very beautiful. She was an incredible woman and in the same time a sad one.
”I was at the White House when the President Ronald Reagan was shot.”
How influenced you these experiences, meeting all these celebrities, and also going to the White House for eight years?
I was there when the President Ronal Regan* was shot at the White House. I did their nails (the President and the First Lady) that morning, which was on a Monday. I will remember this episode all my life. Of course for Misses Regan was devastating. We kept in touch after she moved from Washington D.C. to Beverly Hills and she visited my salon until two or three years ago. Then she became very fragile.
Which are your most important advices for people considering their nail care?
To have their hands groom, hidrated, with care at cuticles and don’t use cheap polish. If you can’t afford going to a salon, keep your their nails clean, with a nice shape and also put some polish on the nail and under it. This is one of my secrets. I would also say it’s a bad sign to men and women when they bite their finger nails. It is displeasing to people’s eyes.
”If you can’t afford going to a salon, keep your their nails clean, with a nice shape.”
What is the trend in nail art at Hollywood?
Hollywood ladies, stars if you wanna say, they don’t put designs. Maybe some glitter on one nail or two but ussually they use the natural look, the french look.
Does regular people can afford going to your salon?
Absolutely. And for many years when I started and opened the first salon for nails only (manicure and pedicure) in the world in 1969 at that time we had more rich and famous people. After that we had I grew up so fast and I had more and more regular people like teachers, executives, mothers. And what is so beautiful at out service is we have repeat customers who came back for 30-40 years.
”I take care of eight orphan children in Armenia.”
How do you enjoy to spend your money?
First, I like very good products. Quality stuff, not necesary a brand but it just happened to be a brand. Even though now I don’t shop that much. I spend money on good vacations, I pick the best places I can and I like to take care of my grandchildren. They are all spoiled and I buy them the best. They all wait to see what I bring in from any trip. And I also take care of eight orphan children in Armenia. And there is also a lady which I consider as my daugher and every month I am sending her money. 300 dollars a month. So I like doing a lot of charity work.
In fact my friends applied for me at Ellis Island Award 2016 (The Ellis Island Medal of Honor is an American award which pays homage to the immigrant experience and the contribution made to America by immigrants and their children. The medals are awarded to native-born and naturalized U.S. Citizens). Who knows, maybe i’m getting this award. I’m very proud.
What are your expectations on the Romanian market?
From my childhood, I remember that no matter how poor the romanian women were, they were taking care of themselfes, they were beautiful. Always! I believe that Jessica Cosmetics is going to reach a lot of people, by being accesible in the beauty salons. I really am convince of this, I am very happy and I think our new partner in Romania, Professional Brands Marketing & Distribution, is an incredible company.
You are travelling a lot. Which is your main purpose?
I travel because I want to offer people a proffesion to be proud of and my company is present in more then 60 counties all over the world. The consumer comes secondery. The manicurist are not really considered a profesion and I know because I went through it and I did it because I wanted to be proud of my carrier. And I made a lot of money and I grew wonderful people and they stayed to their oportunity to do that. Also I have to say, I will come to Bucharest more often. (smiling)
A unique collection inspired by her family
Jessica Vartoughian made a collection after her children, and their babies too, with everyone’s name and also with their photos. The romanian business woman have a 41 years old daughter and a 44 years old son, and her grandchildren are from 26 years old to almost new born, a few months.
”My son knows the business Jessica Cosmetics better than my daughter. My son when was young did pedicure and all the customers loved him because he’s also very handsome. My daughter is more of the teacher type. She was the President of the Armenian School, she is a found raising and she is incredible in the bussiness but in a different way.” Jessica discribed her children in the end of our lovely meeting.
Spring – Summer collection Couture Pop by Jessica is an explosion of color
Jessica Cosmetics relaunch in Romania under the distribution of Professional Brands Marketing & Distribution, in beauty salons is marked by the introduction of the latest nail polish collection for spring – summer season.
Inspired by pop culture, “Pop Couture collection is an explosion of color and personality for nails so that every woman look as if she is on a fashion catwalk”, says Jessica, Founder & CEO of Jessica Cosmetics International. Couture Pop collection brings together six colors: Runway Ready – vibrant red, Strike a Pose – turquoise, “IT GIRL” – lavender, Glam Squad – bold fuchsia, fashionably late – coral and POP Princess – pink.
*Joanne Carson was the second wife of the legendary Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, and died at the age of 83 in 2015.
**Ronald Reagan, originally an American actor and politician, became the 40th President of the United States. On March 30, 1981, Reagan was shot in the chest and seriously injured. He spent about three hours in the operating room and then his doctor said he “was never in any serious danger. Reagan quickly recovered and returned to duty serving from 1981 to 1989.
***Nancy Reagan was born on July 6th 1921, in New York and died this month, on March 6th 2016, in Los Angeles.