Divya Gugnani started her business career in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs and then moved on to private equity and venture capital at Investcorp International and FirstMark Capital. Divya is a self-proclaimed startup junkie, a food, and fashion lover, as well as a beauty experimenter. She has appeared regularly on several shows on CNBC, NBC, and MSNBC. She has also been featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, BusinessWeek, TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Deal, and Crain’s, among several other publications.
In just under four years, Divya has proved the Wander Beauty line not only to be a highly sought after cosmetics brand but as herself becoming a wildly known successful serial entrepreneur. With over 10 highly prestigious beauty awards under their belt, an army of A-list celebrities supporters, top journalists and notable beauty and style influencers, it is evidently clear why Wander Beauty is arguably one of the fastest emerging brands in the US.
So we get to talking with the co-founding ‘Wander’ woman & CEO herself and discuss how the collaboration process initiated with former Victoria’s Secret Angel Lindsay Ellingson, how they both anticipated success and the further growth plans for Wander Beauty in 2018.
Hey Divya, how is your day so far?
Hectic and stressful, four calls and one meeting and so it goes.
As a serial entrepreneur can you tell us what a typical 24 hours for you like?
No two days are the same. There are common themes like I work on product development every day, test/try our new formulas in development, do competitive research etc. and also read all of our data/dashboards re our direct to consumer metrics and client experiences.
Can you give us a little background information and take us through the journey of how you got to where you are today?
I started my career in finance at Goldman Sachs, and then worked in private equity and venture capital. I then took a leap over the dark side of entrepreneurship. Wander Beauty is the fourth company I have co-founded. It’s safe to say that I thrive in the start-up world.
You teamed up with former Victoria’s Secret Angel Lindsay Ellingson, how did the collaboration process initiate?
We met a party and bonded over our love of beauty and travel. We both realized we had the same pain-points in our beauty routine. We were and are both time-starved and on the go. We spend the day multitasking but we didn’t have the beauty that matched our daily life.
Did you research the market heavily prior to launching? If so, what did you note during your findings? I.e spending habits, demographics?
Before we launched the brand we surveyed 100 women about their pain-points in their beauty routine and everyone’s answers were similar. Too much stuff, none of the stuff travels with their busy lifestyle and they did not know what to do with it. People wanted beauty that they can apply themselves and not have an artist apply for them.
Another thing we noticed is a core demographic of people who were time-starved and on the move, and were not being served by the current beauty offerings. They didn’t want to deal with the endless options of artistry brands and wanted an easier way. They just wanted the essentials.
The first initial product that you launched into the market back in April 2015 was the On-the-Glow Blush and Illuminator, how did you anticipate the success of it?
We anticipated that it would be a hit because it solved a problem in a woman’s beauty routine. It gave her lip and cheek color, and glow all in one stick. It can be used on your face, body, and legs. It was the ultimate multi-tasker that you would want to take with you anywhere.
How has the journey been post-launch of Wander Beauty?
It’s been an incredible journey fueled by lots of growth. We’ve built successful retail partnerships across the world and have also paired that with serving our consumers directly through our own web and mobile presence. We’ve also won 11 beauty awards since we launched, so that’s been a great point of joy.
The ‘On-the-Glow Blush and Illuminator’ still remains a best seller even to date, surely there must have been a lot of pressure to deliver another product to the market that would equate to the same success?
It still is an original best seller but we’ve managed to serve our clients well with a core group of complexion products and also a multiple award-winning mascara formula.
How do you think the beauty industry as a whole has grown since you first launch Wander Beauty?
We’ve seen exponential growth in the industry and in the color and skin care categories in particular. We’ve also seen a big shift in focus towards servicing the client and providing her with products that are tailor-made for her lifestyle.
How do you think the rise of social media has played a part?
I think the rise of social media has made people more conscious of what they look like. There’s been a focus on better skin and also a real emphasis on teaching others technique on pictures and videos.
What social media tools did you currently use to build the Wander Beauty brand?
We focus predominantly on Instagram but also engage with our clients via Facebook. We love the live interaction and feedback on products, and also involve them in the process of crowdsourcing shade names.
Can you tell us a winning moment for you so far with Wander Beauty?
We are still a new brand and have already received over 11 notable industry beauty awards for our multitasking beauty essentials including an Oprah Magazine Beauty O-Ward, Allure Best of Beauty Award, Star Magazine Beauty Award and Harper’s Bazaar Beauty Buys Award. It’s such an honour to be recognised for our formulas and efficacy!
What areas are you looking at to continue the growth of Wander Beauty for 2018/2019?
We are extending our assortment to service a larger portion to help service our client. We want to own as much of her beauty routine as we can.
Lastly, what does it mean to you to truly #BEYOUROWN?
I feel like it means living your best life, which means making your dreams a reality every day.
Twitter: @dgugnani @wander_beauty
Instagram: @dgugnani @Wander_Beauty