Making up for lost time in Greece
Napoleon Perdis finds inspiration for his brand in his new home
FROM the moment make-up behemoth Napoleon Perdis watched his mother apply her facewear for an evening out, he was mesmerised by the transformational aspect of make-up. This fascination has translated into a worldwide business with more than 1000 points of sale. After years of living in the United States to expand the business there, Napoleon has packed up and gone to Greece, where his wife Soula-Marie grew up. He tells Weekend what prompted the move, along with how his family influences his work and his proudest moments in a tough business.
Describe how you entered the make-up business – was it something you always wanted to do?
I entered the make-up business because I was inspired by the way make-up was transformational. From the moment I saw my mum transform from day to night, I was always mesmerised and it was always an inspiration.
Describe the proudest moment of your career.
The proudest moment of my career would have to be the opening of my store in Sydney’s Oxford Street in Paddington in September of 1995. It was the beginning of the whole DNA of Napoleon Perdis the brand.
What was your experience of expanding into the American market? When did your first store open in America?
My experience of expanding into the American market was that every state is a country within itself. Even though we speak the same language, you’re not necessarily or automatically going to be understood. My first store opened in October 2005, in SAKS 5th Ave, New York.
It has been reported in other articles that you believed LA was not an organic place for children to grow up, so was that what prompted the move back to Greece? If not, what prompted your family’s move back to Greece?
My family’s move to Greece was prompted by the fact my wife was raised in Athens until 14 years of age, as well as the fact our heritage is Greek; even though I’m Australian born. I wanted our children to understand and know our traditions, religion, as well as experience what my wife’s upbringing was about. In regards to leaving the United States, we didn’t have any family there, we were there primarily for business, and yes it wasn’t organic for the children to be growing up in the world of Hollywood, or unlike the way my wife and I were raised. We both believe in good old traditional family values. We moved to Greece at the end of 2014.
How much has the Greek move influenced your product lines?
My move to Greece has tremendously influenced the product line. Everything is now based on art, culture and heritage, no longer the celebrity or A-list factor.
How much does your family of women influence your product creation?
My family of women influences my product creation by over 70%. They all have an opinion, and their opinions come from different demographics, different feelings, and different emotional connections to a product. The process begins with editing, then goes to our Global Make-up Artists and our Make-up Academy and it pretty much works and is processed like an Andy Warhol machine.
Describe a particular hardship that you have managed and overcome (personal or professional).
I think professional hardships is making sure you’re balancing cash flow, no matter how big the business gets – because at the end of the day Australian banking systems don’t understand creative businesses. Making sure they understand the value of creative business, regardless of the fact you may be a big retail structure, is more important than them understanding you have bricks and mortar that you sell products in, so that’s been a hardship we’ve constantly had to balance to tell suits that there is value in the creative and services sector.
Your daughter, Lianna, is also making her mark with Total Bae – please tell me a little about that, and what it’s like working with your daughter.
Working with my daughter, Lianna, has been a dream. Lianna has a very strong opinion, very definite view and also has a very strong eye for editing and product creation. Total Bae is one of the franchises and capsules within Napoleon Perdis. Lianna was very aware when creating the collection to stick to the DNA of the Napoleon Perdis brand, but ultimately she loves fleshing it out to incorporate a larger millennial base.
Wife Soula-Marie Perdis, and daughters (from left) Alexia, Lianna, Angelene and Athina with Napoleon Perdis.