Shalini Vadhera’s journey from being jewelry and fashion entrepreneur, celebrity make-up artist, best-selling author of Passport To Beauty, favorite guest of Dr. Oz, Today, and The View to the founder of a multi-million dollar global cosmetics company is nothing short of remarkable. Vadhera has transformed this platform while using her business acumen to create global beauty, lifestyle, and business solutions to empower women around the world.
Being a global leader in beauty innovation, Shalini consults some of the top businesses in the world on beauty and spa therapies and branding and has created multiple best-selling beauty brands in her own portfolio.
Shalini is the recipient of the 2017 Mahatma Gandhi Award at The British Parliament for her work in women’s empowerment and leadership. She is the recipient of the 2019 Jewel Of India Award from the Prime Minister’s Office, the 2019 Woman of Excellence Award – Women Economic Forum, and the 2019 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year Award Nominee. She was named the #1 Person To Watch by The Economic Times of India, Winner of the Game Changer Of The Decade Award in Beauty, and Winner of the Oprah Beauty O~ward. In 2020 Shalini was named the President Of The International Women’s Wing for global women’s empowerment by the NRI Welfare Society in New Delhi.
Catch the Ms. Shalini Vadhera, the Beauty Moghul in conversation with Ms. Namita Nayyar, President, Women Fitness.
As a young girl, you traveled the world to visit family in India and Kenya. On those trips is where you fell in love with the beauty of diversity. Please share about your child & education? Also what attracted you to the world of beauty & fashion?
I grew up in San Diego, California. As children, we had the opportunity to travel to India and Kenya to visit my grandparents and family. On those trips, we s=would stop in different countries. I was so enchanted by the flight attendants on those flights. I remember being a young girl on a Japan airlines flight and going to ask for a glass of water and walking into a group of the most beautiful flight attendants painting their nails and doing their makeup. As a little girl, they were walking dolls to me. That was the first moment of attraction to the world of beauty and fashion.
You started your entrepreneurial journey at the age of 19 and you went on to create your own luxury jewelry and fashion lines sold to Macys and Nordstrom. Throw some light on those early days.
I started as an entrepreneur at 19 when my father gave me a plane ticket to India and told me to start my own business. I had no idea what to do but when I reached India ( I actually cried on my flight thinking they were secretly arranging my marriage!!), my uncles from Ludhiana took me to their knitwear factory and I started designing and importing sweaters for the surf and golf industry. It was really difficult as a 19-year-old! It was hard to get my uncles to take me seriously even those I was sitting on orders.
I then pivoted into sterling silver and semi-precious stones and sold those into major department stores but my heart was always with beauty. That’s when I started working in the beauty industry getting my first job at the Clinique counter. I worked my way up to get my big break as a celebrity makeup artist at NBC Studios working on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and that opened up the celebrity makeup artist world to me, got me on TV, from there I was offered a publishing deal to write my best selling book Passport To Beauty and then launched my first beauty brand in Sephora and QVC.
That passion for beauty motivated you to launch your makeup career at the top with a big break by working on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It must have been a dream come true. Share a fond memory from that incident that has stayed with you to date.
I actually thought they were firing me the day I got my job on the Tonight Show. I remember I had only worked at NBC for 6 weeks in the news department. One Day the head of the entire studio came into the makeup room and told me to pack up my stuff. The other makeup artist looked at me and laughed and said it was nice to know you. So we all thought that I was being let go. As I followed him out of the studio I was so nervous thinking that it had been a good six weeks, when he decided to turn left and walk me onto the set of the Tonight Show. He said, “you’re really good and you’re going to work here now”. What a twist of events!
My 1st day at work was working with Jay Leno and the crew trying to get President Clinton a birthday cake. It was the most fun I had ever had.