WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Wojciech Inglot, a Polish chemist and businessman who founded and ran a cosmetics company, Inglot, that grew into an international success with nearly 400 stores in 50 countries, has died. He was 57.
Inglot died unexpectedly Saturday after suffering internal hemorrhaging, a longtime friend of Inglot's and associate of the company, Mariusz Ziomecki, told The Associated Press. Inglot was rushed to a hospital in Przemysl, the eastern Polish city where his cosmetics are produced, but doctors were unable to save him.
Inglot was born in Przemysl on June 11, 1955. He studied chemistry at Krakow's prestigious Jagellonian University. After graduation he began his first chemical manufacturing operation in 1983, when Poland was still under communist rule.
After Poland began its transition to a market economy in 1989, Inglot turned to producing cosmetics, finding success first at home and then internationally with a range of nail polishes, eye shadows and other products. Today the Inglot logo can be seen large-scale at Times Square in New York City and the cosmetics are sold in nearly 400 boutiques and malls in some 50 countries, including at Macy's.
Recently Inglot found unexpected success with a breathable nail polish that became a surprise hit with Muslim women. The enamel, called O2M — for Oxygen and Moisture — allows air and water to pass through it, unlike traditional varnishes that completely occlude the nail.
Traditional varnishes pose a religious problem for observant Muslim women because of prayers five times a day that require a pre-prayer washing ritual. Islamic scholars have long said water must run over the hands and arms, even the finger nails, leading many women to avoid using polish.
It was developed about four years ago but started to become a hit with Muslim women after an Islamic scholar in November declared that it was permissible under Muslim law because it allowed water to reach the nail.
Inglot told the AP in an interview last week that he developed the breathable polish with health-conscious women in mind, and that he was taken by surprise by the reception it was getting with some Muslim women.
Przemysl Mayor Robert Choma expressed shock at the loss of an affable man who created hundreds of jobs locally. Choma said he had been planning to bestow the city's honorary citizenship on Inglot.
"An exceptional person and friend has departed," Choma said, according to Polish media reports. "Nothing foreshadowed this tragedy."
Inglot is survived by his mother, a brother and a sister. A funeral is planned for noon on Wednesday in the Salezjans Church in Przemysl, the company said in a statement.