THE PERFECT TOUCH
Napoleon Perdis is a master of defying STEREOTYPES, turning a childhood love for doing his mother’s MAKEUP in suburban Sydney into a global COSMETICS EMPIRE.
Ever since he picked up his first blush brush in his early teens, Napoleon Perdis has been hooked. A passion for creating a perfectly blended contour and dewy glow led him to secure a AU$30,000 loan from his father to open his first store in 1995. Fast-forward nearly two decades and his products have been perched on shelves everywhere from Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus to his eponymous stores dotted around Australia – not to mention recently announced plans to expand into the Middle East. Here, Napoleon tells his story so far…
ON SATURDAY AFTERNOONS, WHEN I WOULD FINISH MY GREEK DANCING LESSONS,
I would go down to my father’s shop on the corner of Elizabeth and Liverpool Street [in Sydney] to allow my mum to go home and prepare for Saturday night, whether it was to go out or [to] prepare a homecooked dinner… My mum let me do her makeup at around 13 or 14 years old and I loved that; that I was kind of able to do my first makeover.
I SAID TO MY FATHER THAT MOST GREEK DADS GIVE THEIR SONS SUPPORT,
and just because I want to do makeup doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support me. When I told him that, he felt the obligation to support me [financially].
GETTING THE BRAND INTO BERGDORF GOODMAN AND NEIMAN MARCUS WAS A VERY BIG HIGHLIGHT OF MY CAREER.
They are presented so many brands every week – in fact, I think they have three or four buyers that get three or four presentations per day, four days a week. [It helped] that Napoleon Perdis is not only global in its look, but also in how amazing the product is, and how well I work with my labs and my chemists to develop product to that level of excellence.
ONE OF MY MENTORS IS MICHAEL EISNER,
who was head of Disney. He took Disney from [being worth] US$80 million to more than US$80 billion. I’ve learnt from him that everything is achievable and you have to be open to everything. Sometimes the best stories are not the obvious ones, but the ones where the devil is in the detail.
I THINK THE HARDEST LESSON IS TO LEARN HOW TO MANAGE AND UNDERSTAND PEOPLE.
Even when you may be busy and may not have time, you always need to make time. Making time for people and understanding people is actually really important in every type of relationship, and business is just one of those relationships.
MY BIGGEST ADVICE IS TO JUST DO A LOT OF RESEARCH,
do a lot of tax planning and make sure that you’re prepared for the long haul, because it’s a lot of hard work and it takes a lot from you personally.
I’M AT A STAGE IN MY LIFE WHERE I JUST WANT TO BE THE BEST THAT I CAN.
If the best means expansion, we’ll expand, if the best means better product and more new technology, then we’ll do that. If the best means looking at different ways of marketing, we’ll do that. I just want to be the best at what I do.