By the time a woman turns 30, she's been robbed of $40,562 just for being a woman. Every year, a woman spends approximately $1,351 more than a man for simple products including t-shirts, personal care items, and services because of inflated pricing, known as the Pink Tax. It's egregious!
The Pink Tax first came to my attention just last year, and I was beyond astonished to hear that this “buried tax" exists. The Pink Tax is yet another daily hurdle for women that prevents them from gaining control of their money and more importantly, their life.
Once I knew about the Pink Tax, I immediately wanted to educate myself on the topic because it didn't make sense that women pay more for products targeted to women and make less money than men on top of it. (In 2017, women earned 82% of what men earned according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers in the United States.)
In my research, I learned that the Pink Tax starts showing up early in life with baby bottles and pacifiers and continues through adulthood with dry-cleaning and many personal care products like shampoos, conditioners, and deodorants. It even applies to senior healthcare products. I thought, why should a pink cane marketed to women cost more than a different colored one sold to men?
I was outraged but inspired to do something. I started by telling friends just to see their reactions and gauge awareness around the Pink Tax. They shared my astonishment and were horrified how this could be going on right under our noses.
This also became a time to reflect on my own successes and challenges in my professional career. I've had many successes fueled by my passion, determination, and ability. However, I've also faced many challenges head-on because of roadblocks in my way, often specifically because I am a woman.
Let it be known I have never been put off by being “the only woman in the room" because I've always seen myself as a skilled professional rather than a person defined by gender. However, along the way, there have been many misperceptions about me, including my ambitions and aspirations, just because I am a woman.
I am a fervent believer in equality. Period. It is a strong belief of mine that society suffers when one group is disadvantaged because of being labeled or treated as “less than." The Pink Tax impacts each and every woman in the U.S., forcing us to pay more for basic necessities, for the mere fact of being a woman. It's time to raise awareness about this type of inequality that women unknowingly face every day. European Wax Center decided to take the lead because we believe that with awareness comes the ability to make educated decisions and purchases.
As a woman-centric brand, we wanted to give our voices to issues that matter. On April 2, 2018, we set out to raise mass awareness and education about this issue, inspire women to make more empowered purchasing decisions and to advocate for equal prices for equal products. We exist to help women feel unapologetically confident, and we want all women to feel they can be confident not only in their own skin but also in demanding a leveled playing field.
Courtesy of Mic media1.giphy.com
By further educating ourselves, we discovered women pay more than men 47 percent of the time for the same products and services.
This can be seen in the results of a study by the New York Department of Consumer Affairs “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer," that compared nearly 800 products from more than 90 brands. This study found a striking price difference in items marketed to women. To start, female-branded deodorants and razors cost more 56 percent of the time, and on average, women pay 7 percent extra for everyday products and services. For example, women pay an average of $2.71 more than men on shampoo.
One of the pervasive aspects of the Pink Tax is that it's not easy to find out about the price differences unless you're looking for it. The onus is on the consumer, which is disconcerting because if you don't know about the Pink Tax, you don't know to look for it. Here are a few more facts that demonstrate how the Pink Tax impacts our lives from birth through adulthood:
Girls' toys cost more 55 percent of the time, while boys' toys cost more only 8 percent of the time. On average, the largest price discrepancy was in helmets and knee/elbow pads, with girls' versions priced 13 percent higher.
Girls' clothing cost more 26 percent of the time, while boys' clothing cost more 7 percent of the time. Girls' items cost more in seven of nine clothing product categories.
Women's clothing cost more 40 percent of the time, while men's clothing cost more 32 percent of the time. The clothing product category that had the largest price difference by percent was women's shirts, which cost 15 percent more on average than men's shirts.
Senior/Home healthcare products cost more for women 45 percent of the time and cost more for men 13 percent of the time. For example, women's braces, on average, cost 15 percent more than men's.
One of the best ways for us to help others understand this issue was to lean heavily on social media where others are sharing their own surprise, outrage, and gratitude for learning about the Pink Tax.
We also wanted to do our part in helping to level the playing field for women. As a brand that was doing so well, it was a moment to also do good for others. We joined forces with the Fashion Institute of Technology, Girls In Tech and Beauty Changes Lives to support women in realizing their dreams and to give them as much advantage as possible along the way.
I encourage everyone to use their knowledge of unfair gender pricing to help avoid the Pink Tax, but in many instances, that is easier said than done. There is value and hope in a consumer movement, that includes both men and women, who through their voices and actions show others that the road to long-term profitability and loyalty is through gender-neutral pricing.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.