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Industry Insider Profile: Dineh Mohajer

Beauty is the mother of all inventiona��and no one knows that better than Dineh Mohajer. Equal parts beauty junkie and beauty visionary, the industry vet has had an unconventional career thata��s been a study in emotional instinct and an absence of restraint. Her inaugural solo endeavor, the revolutionary Hard Candy brand, was what she calls a�?a survival mechanisma�? created as a way to escape the stressful reality of her then-unforgiving biochemistry/pre-med curriculum. (Of course, Hard Candy would become a runaway color cosmeticsa��industry success and eventually acquired by the iconic French-luxury company LVMH.) Fast-forward a few years and a couple of creative collaborations, and she would launch her next, brilliantly bold invention: Smith & Cult, an evolution of beauty that already has proved to be a standout in the industry. a�?Although my career is all consuming, and I gave up the notion of a full nighta��s sleep decades ago, there is nothing else I would ever want to do,a�? she says. a�?Making beautiful objects, that serve as vessels for beautiful formulas that make people look and feel more beautiful is beautiful.a�? a��Jennifer HendersonA�

Name: Dineh Mohajer

Occupation: Founder and creative force of beauty behind Hard Candy (now owned by LVMH) and her latest beauty endeavor, Smith & Cult. a�?I think the unfiltered point of view of the Smith & Cult narrative, through our a�?Beauty Junkiea�� is an important point of difference; ita��s the unedited voice of the brand communicated through diary entries and reflective of our shared, collective beauty experiences This kind of honesty is relatively scarce in beauty today, where smoke-and-mirrors tactics seem to be more prevalent. The reality of life is that it is filled with both dark and light, and Smith & Cult embraces both sides of this polarity, which to me is true beauty.a�?

Going super-disco: a�?When I was five years old, I went into my moma��s bathroom and pulled out all of her makeup, which included 900 eye-shadow colors. I remember one of the brand names was Starlight; the loose eye shadow powders had metallic pearl pigment in them, so they were super disco. I covered my face in foundation, blush, eye shadow, mascara, lip pencil, and lipstick; there was no rhyme or reason to my application. I looked crazy. I remember thinking I looked so cool, but mostly I remember the feeling of excitement I had. It was the best part of it, regardless of the fact that I looked like a clown. Looking back, I realize the thrill associated with the process versus the fixation on the outcome was the real beauty of it all.a�?

Her work ethic: a�?I work 24-7. I am part of every step in the process of creating the brand a�� marketing, art direction, photography, identity, original artwork, layouts, color selection, responsible formulations, shade names, diary entries, Web site, videos, social media, and so on. I wish I was more balanced but I dona��t really know how to work any other way. The truth is that the endless work I do for Smith & Cult is what I look forward to each and every day.a�?

Her color: a�?The Smith & Cult formulas are socially responsible and healthy. Nailed Lacquer is eight-free (the current standard for most luxury beauty brands is five-free), and our Lip Lacquer formulas are vegan, and gluten and paraben free. My go-to Nailed Lacquer shade is one I think everyone should have in their beauty arsenal: The Graduate. The opaque, rich taupe was inspired by its namesake film character and her precise yet timeless beauty.a�?

Her path to success: a�?I think my success, and shortcomings for that matter, can be attributed to timing, luck, and what my therapist likes to call a�?a lack of certain boundaries.a�� Ia��ve been very fortunate that people have responded to my brands the way they have. Also, thankfully, I have a remarkable support system, which includes my parents, my close friends, my husband, and my business partner Ia��ve had since Hard Candy, Jeanne Chavez.a�?

Her alter ego: a�?The brand philosophy is based on a�?The Diary of a Beauty Junkiea�� narrative and is conveyed through her diary, which is basically a�� me. All of the entries consist of borrowed experiences from my life and my relationship with beauty as an extension of those experiences. They influence every facet of the brand, from color inspiration to images to shade names to product categories. Ita��s all quite soul-baring, absurdly personal, and also kind of therapeutic. My hope is that the experiences are relatable and our customers identify with them, and that ultimately these collective experiences make us all more beautiful.a�?

Her personal style: a�?My wardrobe is a bizarre, fragmented collection of vintage finds, buttery leather goods from around the globe, and the softest, feels-like-youa��re-going-commando sweatpants you will ever encounter in your life. Plus, a shoe collection Imelda Marcos would be proud of.a�?

Her must-haves: a�?My face cana��t live (nor should it be seen) without assistance from the following: Serge Lutens BeautA� Lip Pencil (so universally flattering that ita��s the only shade offered); By Terry Tea to Tan watercolor bronzer; Smith & Cult The Shining Lip Lacquer; ClA� de Peau Concealer; Giorgio Armani Maestro Foundation; and I cana��t live without Skinmedica TNS Essential Serum.a�?

Her drugstore steal: a�?I tend to splurge the most on skincare products, but am also partial to Cetaphil. My dermatologist recommends it, Ia��ve used it forever, and it softens dry, chapped skin literally overnight.a�?

Beauty is: a�?Not taking things too seriously. For me, ita��s all about respecting my individuality and being healthy in mind, body, and spirit (easier said than done). As I grow older and wiser (debatable), authenticity and kindness are what I find most captivating in others and surrounding myself with those attributes helps my beauty, my soul, my everything. I know it sounds a bit corny, but ita��s what makes me feel like my most confident and beautiful self.a�?

Inspiration all around: a�?Exhibitions of my favorite artists always seem to inspire. There are countless artists I admire, but lately Ia��ve been partial to Axel PeemA�eller, Amanda Demme, Gottfried Helnwein, and Alex Israel. I also spend an ungodly amount of time working on the computer so blogs and Tumblr feeds are what I turn to daily for inspiration/procrastination. Some of my favorites are Them Thangs, F**k You Very Much, Design is Kinky, and Old Chum.a�?

Her maxim: a�?The good, the bad and the ugly: ita��s all beautiful and I try my best to embrace it. It should be noted that I totally heisted that from a Clint Eastwood western.a�?

Her happy places: a�?One is in bed with my husband Michael. Ita��s my cozy, happy oasis where I often end up working as wella��again, boundaries arena��t exactly my strong suit. A massage table, preferably at a luxuriously, over-indulgent spa. My parenta��s cozy couch watching movies with them while snacking. Dan Tanaa��s and the second floor of Barneys, in L.A., are pretty great, too.a�?

Words of wisdom: a�?Take care of your foundation. Remain consistent with fitness, skincare, sleep, and healthy eating. When I follow this advice, life is great. When I dona��t, ita��s kind of terrible.a�?

Whata��s next: a�?I recently introduced two lip categories to the Smith & Cult family, and Ia��m excited to expand the collection later this year. As for me, while I have immense gratitude for my career, my main goal is to set aside time to focus on overall wellness and attempting to curb some of my workaholic tendencies. (Wish me luck a�� and sleep.) Also, and this might be totally off subject, but Ia��m renovating my kitchen right now, so thata��s a nightmare, but ita��s really fun, too. Such is life.a�?