Dineh Mohajer, Smith & Cult (Also Founder of Hard Candy)
Share your career path!
At 20 years old, I was an overworked, disgruntled biochemistry student diligently headed on a path to medical school. Meanwhile, my desperate need for procrastination sent me on the hunt for a pastel baby blue nail lacquer to match my toes to a pair of Marc Jacobs sandals. The shade didn't exist, but I randomly stumbled upon a shocking blue shade at a small nail salon and mixed it with white, which yielded an opaque baby blue nail lacquer. Cut to the creation of Hard Candy, my first big break that took me from science to beauty. It turned out to be equally, if not more, intense and demanding as the rigorous premed curriculum.
As we grew at a dangerously rapid pace, I remained adamant about not following rules, which supported unfiltered creativity and led to revolutionary products. It also helped me make a bazillion and one mistakes on the business side. Thankfully, in the end, my shortcomings failed to prevent our success, since three years later Hard Candy was acquired by LVMH. Flash forward, I've accumulated infinitely more experiences in my past 20 years in the beauty industry. Smith & Cult is my newest brand and again, just as Hard Candy was, is a reflection of my experiences and perspective.
What product have you developed that you are most proud of and why?
When I introduced Hard Candy's pastel nail lacquer, it turned out to be the first of its kind: shades, names, packaging, and boutique distribution. The little jelly ring was something that I randomly happened upon at a party supply store while I was planning a friend's birthday (clearly I do a lot of stumbling upon). An enormous high point for me was creating the first-ever glitter eye pencil. It had never been done before, so there were no existing regulatory guidelines for safety and testing. It was great for me, because I had a huge head start in the market due to my disregard of policy (I'm not bragging because it certainly had its dark consequences). Of course, established beauty brands followed appropriate protocol, so it would take research and development on their end prior to the launch of a new invention.
It was shocking to me that my little invention — which I developed in a cosmetic lab way out in the middle of nowhere in Tennessee and which involved urging the lab to clog their eye pencil machines with glitter — carved out a billion-dollar category within the cosmetic industry. This is the kind of thing that keeps me passionate and obsessed about developing future generations of innovative formulas, packaging, branded photography/art, and footage.