Brand-Bullies in the Biz

Source: Brand-Bullies in the Biz

Posted in Professional Nail Business | 3 Comments

World Scene; Election 2016

Linda and I are on a two-week, high energy trip that started in London at the Olympia Show. We then overnighted in Helsinki on the way to St Petersburg, Russia and as I write we are in Moscow.
This has been a remarkable journey. Linda worked with our wonderful famous Names UK distributor Louella-Belle and I had the privilege of being reunited with the talented Sweet Squared team. It was a successful show for both and I liked the energy on display.
Linda held two IBX certification classes with forty attendees in each. These classes generally go about 2 ½ hours, these went for 3 ½. The thirst for knowledge was amazing and the gratitude of the students to Linda was special.
What was very, very fun was the spontaneous convergence of some notable industry leaders and the genuine good time we had together every night (in the bar, of course). Alex Fox of Scratch, Athena Elliott of Nail Talk Radio, Elaine Watson of Nailebrity, The Boys of Nail Alliance (Danny, David, George), Jewell Cunningham of Creative Age, the fun and talented Louella-Belle team and more. It shows the great unity that is possible amongst competitors… We are all so blessed to be in an industry that continues to thrive because of leaders who care and interact with the customer base. In the same spirit I had a complete blast with my Sweet Squared Family, many of whom I had not seen in two years. To spend this kind of quality time is so motivating to keep growing and deliver the very best to our customers.

I have never been to Russia. In the plane, on final approach into St Petersburg, it appears to be just like any-other large and pretty city. It struck me how our impressions are greatly shaped by the media we are exposed to. We had so many friends telling us to “be careful and travel safe”. To be honest, we had excitement mixed with apprehension. In reality, we have felt completely comfortable and really like St Pete and Moscow. Our distributor hosts have been so gracious and have created a cultural trip that is amongst our best ever! The techs here are as professional as any in the world. They are smart, passionate and we are really excited about this market.

Back to the media shaping our opinions. I like to watch local news stations when traveling abroad, so have been watching RT (Russia Television) quite a bit. In listening to their coverage of the issues, they present very straight forward, fact based view points from a Russian perspective. In listening, you think…that sounds reasonable or that makes sense. Yet they are almost the mirror image opposite of what we hear in the US. Who do you believe? Who is correct? I think its important to go beyond the main stream media and read alternative/additional views, as its obvious the media is manipulated in all the major countries of the world by our elected officials. At the end of the day, its amazing and refreshing how the common, average person is very similar, no matter where you are in the world. We have certainly found that here. They have the same types of hope, outlook etc that we have in our country. They also don’t put a lot of credence that the politicians have their best interests in focus.

Now for some fun, quick takes on what I learned and observed while in Russia:
Vodka: We are led to believe all Russians sit around and drink Vodka…so NOT true. In fact, the folks we hung with don’t really drink that much at all and beer seems to be more popular.
Iphones are mega popular…seems like everyone had one.
The word “Kremlin” means “strong”…thus a very imposing wall surrounds the Kremlin. It is the “nerve center” of the Russian government and where Vladimir hangs out (but does not live…he has 14 homes around Russia). It was built in 1480 by Italian architects.
Double Eagle is the new symbol of Russia post-Soviet Union (Hammer and Sickle). It represents the view to the west (Europe) and to the East (China/Asia).
GUM Department Store on Red Square looks like a mid-evil palace on the outside and a train station on the inside. We loved it!
Red means beautiful, not communism. Thus Red Square means beautiful square and it surely is.
The Metro stations are gorgeous…like art museums. Lenin built them that way so make the people feel like they lived in privilege. Each station is different. We visited the Victoria Station which had golden statues of German Shepherds…you rubbed the nose for good luck…everyone did it (me too!).
Moscow means “cold or dark water”.
When the first Mc Donald’s opened in the 1990, it was mobbed by 5000 people. Why? It represented freedom and new thinking to the Russian people…we drove by it every day while in Moscow.
Ruble means Rabbit

The 2016 Election is shaping up to be a good one…I don’t recall ever seeing this much interest, especially on the Republican side of things. I don’t really have any idea of who I will vote for, there is a tremendous amount of water yet to pass under the bridge. A few early observations:

• Donald Trump has been a phenomenon. Doesn’t matter if you like/don’t like; Agree/Disagree…he has shaken up the entire process and brought tremendous interest from the public. The last time I remember someone drawing this amount of attention was Ronald Regan.
• Dynasty Politics: I am done with both the Clintons and the Bushes. They have too much power, too much influence and neither of them is in touch with our real world. Jeb has just stumbled. More on Hillary below.
• It is possible a Socialist is running for President and receiving meaningful support??? The foundational philosophy that built our country is under attack…Capitalism is now “bad”. To see how Socialism works, read up on Russia under Stalin. If that doesn’t cure you, nothing well. But really, a Socialist???
• BUT, I get it…people are totally frustrated with the entire political scene in Washington. Why do you think non-politicians are making such a splash? No one trusts the career, pansy politicians running our government. They are corrupt and self-serving with a crony based power structure that places you and me last on the priority list. Both parties. It’s so bad, a socialist is garnering support.
• The Democratic Debate: I was unimpressed. Linda and I arrived home from Russia just in time to view it. It was watched by 15 million viewers and ranked second to NCIS. By comparison, the Republican debate on Fox drew 25 million (see comment on Trump above). It seemed some parts were pre-scripted…like the Bernie Sanders comment on email. It looked like Hillary started nodding her head before Sanders even started talking. So, the socialist to her right declaring the emails not important was deemed to settle the matter. Oh, that’s right…there is that matter of a FBI investigation that won’t go away.
o I read a list of about 25 goodies that were promised during the two hours. Not one mention of the sorry state of our finances as a nation. No one mentioned the total debt we have run up. I don’t think anyone cares, or at least 99% of Americans don’t. My prediction: they will in the next 12-24 months.
o Not one mention of the zero percent interest rate policy supported by the Obama administration that punishes savers, and had little impact on the real economy.
o There was lots of talk about income in-equality. I agree, it exists…but the cause is the approximate THREE Trillion in new money printed under the Obama administration that has pumped up asset prices. If you have assets, they have gone up. But printing money does not create quality jobs. Capitalism does…but that is not popular now, even though there is overwhelming evidence that private sector investment is what built America into a great nation.
o No mention of the vacuum that has been created in the Middle East. Amazing.
• Hillary: I found her boring, scripted and extremely partisan. She said “I will help those who need it the most”. So she will decide who needs help and who does not, right? That is the power of politics for you. Does the email server situation matter? It does to me…it goes to integrity and honesty. The story keeps changing. Who wants four years of that? Not me. She also said she is a “capitalist”, but want’s to rein it in. That is one of biggest oxy-morons I have ever heard. The last thing this country needs is more regulation, laws and rules that further tie the hands of the free market. That is what Hillary will bring. I also think it’s a lock she will be the Democratic candidate…no one else will touch her, too much power in that dynasty.
• All the others: Time will tell…the shake out will occur and it will be fascinating to see who is left standing.

So, its going to be an interesting election. If you want to respectfully share your views, I will include them in my next blog, which will be after the next debate. I respect all views that are well thought out and hope you do too!

That’s it for now…

Posted in Investing/The Economy, Professional Nail Business | 3 Comments

IBX Wins Schoon Scientific Innovation of the Year 2014 Award

I am excited and humbled to announce that Schoon Scientific has awarded Famous Name’s IBX system it’s 2014 Innovation of the Year award.  Doug Schoon who IS Schoon Scientific is, in my opinion, the most talented chemist for the professional nail industry in the world…there is no one close.  So knowing this award is coming from him, makes it extra special.

Famous Names launched IBX just a bit over a year ago and it has already won some notable awards, including Nails Magazine’s Best New Product of the Year.  We are thrilled to receive this recognition, but also take it seriously…our mission is to deliver the very best to our nail professional customers.  We accomplish that by listening to them;  throughly testing all products before release and then gathering all the input we can to continue the process.  We want to be the best (being big is not what drives us) and want to thank all of the nail professionals who have tried IBX, we know without you there would be no awards.  If you have not tried IBX, you may find more information at

For more information on our award and Schoon Scientific:              


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Wrapping Up 2014….

2014 really flew by…some thoughts on the year on a variety of subjects:

2014 has been a gratifying year for famous Names…we started shipping IBX, our new “baby” exactly a year ago.  We knew from the field testing we did that we had a winner, but the market has to validate that.  We are blessed to have a customer base that is open-minded, wants the best for their clients and are anxious to try new concepts.  IBX has been a winner for us…we are so excited at the difference it has made for nail professionals around the world and look forward to more of the same in 2015.  Thanks to our customers and distributors who have supported famous Names in 2014, we truly appreciate it and are working hard to be your partner in success! 2015 will bring some new excitement from famous Names and we look forward to further partnering with nail professionals around the world.

I have just learned this morning Vicky Peters has left us. It’s very sad and a loss for the professional nail industry. The “Vickers” was one of a kind and was forever dedicated to our industry. I have so many memories of good laughs, in-depth discussions on how to improve our industry and about life in general. I am so glad that I took the time to visit her in her salon earlier this year. RIP Vicki Peters, we will miss you and your smile.

Every year has its high points and challenge points. Through it all, it’s important to “smell the roses” along the way. Linda and I are blessed to have two fantastic daughters. I am so proud of them both. We are thrilled Niki comes home to visit us every chance she gets…she is going to be a real asset to the professional beauty industry and I look forward to her contributions. Carli was able to spend time with our UK family over the summer and continues dedicate herself to her studies as a home schooler this year. She has a business mind and that is what she wants to persue…maybe famous Names one day? Linda is amazing…how do you get younger each year in attitude and appearance? I am a lucky guy. I am also thankful for my “UK family”. The Sams and the entire Sweet Squared team are terrific. They are a pleasure to work with and it’s an honor to be their partner. 2015 will bring more thrills and challenges, but when you are surrounded by so many talented and great people, I know the ride will be filled with satisfaction and a lot of fun.

The midterm elections were held about seven weeks ago (seems like seven months ago!).
The final results were:   Senate:  Rep 54   Dem  44   Ind 2;   House:  Rep 247   Dem 188;  Governors  Rep 35   Dem 15.  Some are calling this election a “sea-change”.  I really don’t agree…midterm elections in second terms typically produce a change in the balance of power. I believe the magnitude of the change is above average. If you are a “Republican”, there was joy and jubilation. If not, indignation and resignation. It seems there is always a dose of fear and warning on how the world is about to change drastically for the worse after an election like this. One great example I saw is “the end of school lunches for the children was near”. I am quite sure there will be more school lunches served next year than this year. I wish school lunches are the worst of our problems. This next Congress has some major challenges facing it and I hope there is some intelligent governing that takes place…I know many of you are laughing out there at that thought. But we can hope, right?

Here are my thoughts on what needs to happen:

  • The Keystone XL Pipeline is approved and work started as soon as possible.  I cannot imagine a more obvious “no brainer”.  Currently the heavy crude that the Keystone XL would transport is being moved via rail.  Most of it comes from Canada.  President Obama spoke this week coming out against the project stating that “Canada would be the main beneficiary of the project”.   Here is what he left out:  Over the last twenty years, the US oil industry has spent tens of billions converting refineries to processing heavy crude.  There are two primary sources of heavy crude:  Canada and Venezuela.  Who would you rather see benefit?  Our strong ally to the north or  the socialist and unfriendly regime to the south?  One other note:  the majority of the rail system that is currently moving the Canadian heavy crude is owned by major democratic and Obama supporter Warren Buffett.  Lets put the interests of our Country first over politics.  Lets create tens of thousands of high paying jobs for Americans.  Lets advance our energy infrastructure.  This is a no brainer.
  • Reform the Federal Corporate Tax Rate:  The US has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world at 35%.  The President and the Congress are demonizing companies for holding profits overseas and for doing corporate inversions (where tax domicile is changed from the US to other jurisdictions via acquisition). In a free market, money flows to where it is treated best. The US is not currently that place.  Here is a solution:  Put in place a competitive rate and the money will flow back to the US.  I think a 20% rate sounds about right.  In making this change, many (all?) of the special interest tax breaks would have to go away.  Simplicity and Competiveness…all good for the US.
  •  Constitutional Respect:  The balance of power envisioned by our founding fathers is being changed by the use of Presidential Executive Orders.  PEO’s  bypass the Congress and implement the agenda of the President.  President Obama’s PEO size and scope are unprecedented and may produce very dangerous and unintended consequences.  I have seen articles stating that the NUMBER of PEO’s is less than that of the last Administration and that would be correct.  However, when looked at in the scope and impact on our economy, impact on business and the judicial system…this president has gone far beyond any other.  A grid locked Congress is the excuse used…but that is how our system is set up.  It is what the Constitution was built on:  Separation of Power.  I don’t want any President doing this, no matter the political party or how justified the agenda.  I want to see some integrity in Washington and less “boundary pushing”.  Our Constitution enabled the most successful country in the world…why are we risking our future because of one man’s (political) agenda?

I have seen many in the Republican arena trying to make a case for repeal of the medical device tax.  I honestly don’t see it…the publicly held medical device companies have been amongst the biggest risers in a market that has gone up a lot.  The tax appears to have been taken in stride.  Innovation continues to flow.

Back to the topic of energy.  I was reading an article this week that quoted the EIA that a grand total of 0.6% of total power generated in the US comes from solar power.  Not much when you consider the tens of billions the current administration has “invested” in solar.  The fact is that solar is the most expensive type of power generation.  Wind makes up 4.7% of the total and is more economic than solar.  Nuclear is the most cost efficient.  America has a legitimate shot at being nearly energy independent…we need to wisely invest in making this happen (think Keystone XL along with wind, hydro and nuclear).  We need to keep innovation moving forward…quality of life depends on it.

It’s snowing here in Vegas today, what a perfect way to say goodbye to 2014 and welcome in 2015. Our daughter Carli and her bestie Celine are cooking Linda, Linda’s Mom and I dinner tonight. Cant wait, what a nice way to spend the evening! 2015 will bring a lot of travel (so what’s new???) and to some new places…I cant wait! In signing off, I wish you and your’s a fun and safe New Year’s Eve and above all else, a healthy 2015.

Until Next Time-

Posted in Investing/The Economy, Professional Nail Business | 4 Comments

The IBX Effect…Gel nails rescue

A fantastic blog for famous Names! Thanks to P.I.P.

I’m sure all of you gel wearers have a love/hate relationship with gel polish. It can last over 2 weeks, it shines relentlessly and there is no chipping. All the reasons why we love gel polish, right? However there is a down side. We all hate the damage it can cause to some of our nails. Well, Famous Names has created a product that strengthens and repairs your nails within. It is the “IBX System” creating nail strength from within.


I know your asking youself, how does this work? There are 2 steps that are applied before your manicure and or gel application. One is the repair system for damaged nails and the other is the strengthner, which by the way can be used with natural nails and regular polish. Keep in mind this is a natural nail system. The image below shows the nail with damage before the IBX…

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Fathers Day; Shifting World; Europe

I had all good intentions of writing this blog on Fathers Day.  From time to time, I’ll hear an interviewer ask the question “if you could spend one hour with anyone from the past, who would it be?”  The answer ranges from George Washington to Thomas Edison to John F Kennedy. For myself, I don’t need even one second to supply the name:  My Dad, Stuart Nordstrom.

He died in 1983, four years after starting Creative Nail Design. That year we did $250K in sales. He shared with me in a private conversation shortly before his death that the family had started something special that would become a big success. So, in that hour I would share with him the amazing story of success that unfolded in the years after he departed us. The people I have met from all over the world.  The victories, trials and tribulations that we encountered along the way. How Creative served as a vehicle for my Mom to survive and move on after his departure.  How our company would touch the lives of so many People in so many good ways. It would be an hour for a lifetime. That is what I thought about on Fathers Day.

There is a major and subtle shift underway in the world economy that will have profound effects on all, but in particular, our USA. For many decades, the US Dollar has been the world “reserve currency”. In short, when you conduct trade around the world, the selling and buying countries price the good or service being traded in US Dollars. The foundation of this arrangement was Saudi Arabia’s agreement to price all of its oil sales in the US currency many decades ago. Fast forward to the year 2014 and the Dollar’s status is undergoing a quiet, but quite powerful shift towards losing that status. It is being driven by China and Russia with support from Iran, The Saudi’s and some South American countries.

The largest recent example was a $400 Billion deal between China and Russia where Russia will supply a large amount of natural gas to China. The size of the deal was a bit staggering.  However, the bigger headline to me is it was priced in Rubles and Yaun…no Dollars involved.  I believe very few Americans are aware of this trend.  Its implications are enormous though. Up until now, since we have been the undisputed reserve currency, we have created an unlimited amount of new currency units in the form of debt. As we are slowly removed from reserve status, our ability to repay that debt will come into greater scrutiny and higher interest rates will most likely follow. Joined to that, inflation could become a major plague on our economy. This will hit the average American the hardest in that it will cost far more to buy the same amount of lifestyle. The average household income has already been lagging in a low inflation environment. High inflation will be quite difficult. Sadly, the political elite along with the financial community will fare, as they have been, just fine. Educate yourself on this, it will help you survive a difficult transition that is under way.

I am so lucky to be writing this from the back terrace at Villa D’ Este…it is a sunny day and Lake Como looks even more magical, if that is possible. It has to be one of the top three most beautiful places I have ever been. We are here with the Kids and it’s a real blessing to be able to share it with them. Linda and I started our trip last weekend in Liverpool, England and attended The Open (or as we Americans call it The British Open). We stayed with some very special friends who hosted a non-stop fun zone that included walking a round of local golf on the day we arrived (the best jet lag remedy I have found yet!); two days at The Open (and we were in walking distance of the course) and a memorable dinner in Liverpool followed by visiting every dive bar on Mathews Street, where The Beetles begin their storied careers. We are forever indebted to our Liverpool buddies and look forward to returning the hospitality in Las Vegas!

Next was Vienna, Austria where the kids joined us. We really enjoyed it…it is a full but small city with tons of history, nice and happy people, who enjoy having a two or three hour coffee with friends. We were surprised at how quiet it was…everyone leaves the city for holidays in the beach areas during the summer months.  Everyone said winter is when Vienna is most alive. One of the highlights was a wine country tour outside of Vienna combined with a one hour ride on the Danube river, it was so fun and relaxing!

Before I sign off, I want to mention a new service that is being offered by a person I am proud to call a friend, Doug Schoon. More than anyone I know, he has contributed more good to our professional beauty industry. Most of it without compensation.  To say he embodies what our industry stands for is an understatement. His new Face to Face program details can be found at this link:   It is a bargain for a wealth of material and I hope you give it a try. Secondly, on behalf of Linda and myself, I want to thank all of the nail professionals who have tried and enthusiastically supported famous Names new IBX system and our international team of distributors, who have done a simply amazing job of educating and promoting IBX. We are overwhelmed and grateful…

Until the next time


Posted in Famous Names, Investing/The Economy, Professional Nail Business | 9 Comments

Why IBX; Whitespots;

Thanks to all of you who have “welcomed” me back to writing this blog.  I truly do enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts.

I want to discuss the need for a product like IBX today.  Linda and I are thrilled with the early response to IBX, maybe overwhelmed is the better word!  Most nail professionals immediately see the need for IBX. We are receiving daily testimonials on the results that IBX is delivering (Go to our Famous Names Facebook page to see more  As I shared last week, many of our fellow nail manufacturers have congratulated us for creating a product that will make our industry even more effective to the consumer base that relies on the Nail Professional as part of their personal care routine.

There was one company that suggested that if their gel polish is applied and removed properly, that there would be no need for IBX (since there would be no nail damage) and in fact, that adhesion could be adversely affected.  I must respectfully, but strongly disagree with this mis-statement  for two reasons.  Firstly, one can never assume the starting condition of the natural nail prior to application of a gel polish.  If you start with a damaged natural nail, no matter how skilled or how careful the Nail Professional is in the removal process, the nail will be prone to continued damage.  To suggest that any and all nail damage is the solely the fault of the Nail Professional and not of the product is both unfair and incorrect.  As any Nail Professional knows, every client is unique and different.  This is why a skilled technician knows how to assess and suggest the best course of action for each and every client.  We believe IBX is a valuable new tool to aid in that process.

Imagine being the BEST builder of  buildings in the world.  You know that if you follow your time tested methods and long trusted suppliers, that your buildings will continue to be considered the “best”.  Then one day, a new supplier discovers that if you use “re-bar” in the foundation, that it will bolster the strength and toughness of the foundation…what a fantastic breakthrough!  Even better, it’s use has NO effect on what is placed on top ofthe foundation.  Why on earth would you not want to immediately use this fantastic new method in your buildings?  Of course you would IF you want to continue creating the best end result.  Well, back to the Professional Nail Industry…IBX is like adding re-bar to the natural nail, making it tougher and stronger so that when you apply your gel polish over the top, it will provide a stronger foundation to withstand the removal and re-application process!  It will also begin to strengthen and repair any pre-existing damage as it’s used after each removal.  Talk about a win-win for you and your customer.  So, don’t be misled or discouraged from trying a new way or a new product that potentially will make you an even better professional AND make your customers happy and more loyal to you.

White spots…they are an often mentioned issue from the Nail Professionals we talk to on a daily basis.   The prevailing view is they are caused by de-hydration from the acetone being used to remove the gel polish coating.  This is incorrect, it if was true, the entire nail plate would appear white and not just appear in localized areas.  The white spots are actually a result of the gel polish removal process.  I came across this excellent article by Doug Schoon, a top expert for the Professional Nail Industry:   It does an excellent job of explaining white spots and has some amazing photos.  In short, these variables influence the occurrence of white spots during the removal process:

  • Using the incorrect lamp to cure your gel polish system (usually it is over curing that occurs)
  • Leaving the gel polish on too long…gel polishes actually increase their adhesion to the natural nail the longer they are left on
  • The soaking process is not long enough.  There is a tendency to follow the minimum suggested time rather than the longer end of the suggested range.  The key idea here is to soak long enough to remove without scraping.
  • The soaking process softens the natural nail…if you soak and scrape, you will likely create some level of nail damage.

Here is the good news:  IBX Repair acts as a “sealant”, sealing over the surface of the nail and reducing or even eliminating the white spots.  It also has adhesive properties, thus it’s ability to adhere nail damage such as delamination, peeling or splitting so the natural nail can grow out on it’s own.  Using IBX Repair along with IBX allows the “re-bar” into the nail and also repairs the surface damage.

If you have not tried the IBX System, we hope you do (more info at  If you have, we look forward to hearing about your experiences.


Posted in Professional Nail Business | 6 Comments