Napoleon Perdis began his career when he launched a small make-up studio in Leichhardt in 1992. Today, the make-up artist to the stars has 73 concept stores and more than 4500 point-of-sale locations in Australia and New Zealand, and others in the US. In 2012, Perdis expanded his brand and launched Napoleon Perdis Life.Style, which reflects his love of art, interior design, homewares, fashion and accessories. I caught up with the 44-year-old to chat about the secret to his success, family life and being a protective father.
When you first started out, did you ever expect your family make-up company to expand into a global empire?
I still don’t feel like it’s an empire, I just feel like it’s still a cottage family business. I know we have this great volume, I know we are the No. 1 foundation and mascara brand in DJs [David Jones], know we’ve got a 16 per cent market share in Australia … and also I have a secondary line in Target USA. But I’ve got probably 50 other countries I want to conquer. So until I do that, I don’t think it’s an empire, I think it’s just Napoleon Perdis wanting to connect. I was offered by a huge multinational last year to be bought but I am not interested. I’m 44 and I am not interested in doing anything other than meeting customers.
What is the secret to your success?
Every thing in my life is: love, fear or hate. I immediately say, “Do I love, do I fear, do I hate” [this]? When I love [something] it drives me and I become ambitious. When I fear, I try not to comment or reject it or compartmentalise it. If I hate, I don’t waste time on it. So I am a very quick editor of my time.
Your wife is very fortunate she is married to a make-up artist. Does she get you to do her make-up, because I know I would!
I actually feel very lucky that she is there for me. She really is there to support me and drive my passion. As far as doing her make-up, when we go out to really amazing places I will then finish off her make-up. She does her own make-up and I only ever finish to make her look more refined.
Tell me about your children.
I have four daughters: I have got my triplets that are 12, and my oldest is 14, and recently a boy … at school told her that she has got a cute butt – and it killed me. You can imagine how your dad felt when someone said that about you!
Are you a protective father?
Yes, absolutely. I used to say to them that they could date after 16, and now that they are like 14, I’ve changed my mind to 18, and they are like “dad!”. I understand she is going to have guys after her and I’m not going to stop nature, but I just want them to be in control of their life. But if that means I have got to protect them, I will do that.
You’re surrounded by women in your home life. Do they rule the roost?
Yeah, I mean they try and tell me what to do, but you know they are really happy to make dad happy, and I like that.
Will your daughters follow in your footsteps and one day take over the business?
The only thing that I ultimately really want for them is to be in control of their lives. Secretly, both myself and my wife would love them to be involved in the business.
What do you do for fun?
I like to travel, I like to shop. I read an enormous amount, and I like sit under the sun and tan. I go to Palm Springs [in California] – that’s where my vacation home is. I just love the heat of the desert.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?
I think the thing that people are most surprised about me is how Australian I am. I think people have this perception and see me as this ”wog boy” made good and yet I love, breathe and live my culture, which actually is Australian, much more than Greek.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself doing a makeover in Paris by [the] Champs-Elysees! I have a vision to see my brand in beautiful locations like Sao Paolo in Brazil, Japan, London and Germany, as well as rolling out more [Napoleon] lifestyle stores. And just keep working on keeping fit and being in control, because if you are in control that makes you happy.
WE WENT TO Cosmopolitan Cafe, Double Bay.
WE ATE Fruit salad and yoghurt.
WE DRANK Freshly squeezed orange juice and English breakfast tea.
I WORE a Camilla and Marc top and pants.
NAPOLEON WORE Valentino T-shirt, Saint Laurent jacket, Dsquared jeans and Philipp Plein shoes.