In a market where beauty brands and experts jostle for your attention, Vadhera has clearly got the edge. Variously known as an author, celebrity beauty expert, entrepreneur and media personality, 41-year-old Shalini Vadhera always had an eye for detail when it came to beauty, make-up and looking your best. With a mother born in Kenya, but hailing from Chandigarh, and a father born in Ludhiana, travel across geographies and cultures was a constant while growing up.
Says the Los Angeles-based entrepreneur, "As a young girl, I was absolutely enchanted by these gorgeous flight attendants on the airlines, and as siblings we would fight about who would get the first coconut oil scalp massage from our grandmother back in India."
A push from her father at the right time took her to India to get a taste of life as an entrepreneur. As a 19-year-old, she started her own business in India, dabbling in knitwear export, and selling semi-precious jewellery to stores like Macy's and Nordstrom.
Her first break came in 2001, while she was completing her degree in international business in San Diego. A call from NBC Studios taking her on as a TV make-up artist for Jay Leno on 'The Tonight Show 'changed the course of her life. Soon, she was a media darling boasting association with Fortune 500 companies including Revlon and Olay. As early as 2005, Vadhera was working in the lab, creating make-up solutions for the mixed tones-the Latinos, Middle-easterners, and Asians-who she saw as a huge demographic just waiting to be tapped by beauty companies. The following year saw the successful launch of her cosmetics company 'Global Goddess Beauty', which shared beauty secrets from across the globe, and also her best-selling book, 'Passport to Beauty'.
But no journey is complete without its share of heartburn and learning. She soon parted ways with Global Goddess, over differences with an investor over the direction of the brand. Says a wiser Vadhera to woman entrepreneurs everywhere, "it is difficult to find mentors in business, especially women mentors, people you can trust." She adds, "it is even more difficult to raise money, without being asked for favours. Embrace that you are a woman, and look for networks of successful women in your field, and connect with them and find mentors."
Vadhera currently has her hands full with SVP Global, a new beauty and lifestyle brand that she is creating. She is also very excited about the Indian market and is already tapping opportunities to do business there. "India is one of the most important business destinations with its emerging middle class and empowered women…it's like you have to go to India, especially when you're Indian."
She plans to make a foray into the Indian market as early as the fall of 2013. "The opportunities are huge, and there is a desire and awareness for looking and feeling your best and women want the tools to do that." She is looking for established business partners who know India well, and are looking to bring a beauty brand into the country. Dot N' Feather Ideation (DFNI), a content company, which is Vadhera's co-creation with husband Tony Potts, is already in talks with a Mumbai-based media group for collaboration on a television show based on her life in the US. She is also working on another book inspired by inner beauty, which transcends the pressures of life and its ups and downs.