Behind Her Empire: Divya Gugnani's 'On-The-Go' Clean Beauty Empire

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Wander Beauty CEO Divya Gugnani
Wander Beauty

On this week's episode of Behind Her Empire, I sat down with Divya Gugnani, the CEO and co-founder of Wander Beauty. Her latest company is a cruelty-free, clean beauty brand, designed to be the ultimate on-the-go beauty essentials.

Gugnani began her work in finance at Goldman Sachs, where she says she learned the important of being a team player.

"I believe that investing in people and investing in relationships would always be the best thing for me, both personally and professionally," she said. "And I learned that in finance you work hard, you work a lot of hours and you work on teams."

After dabbling in personal equity and then getting her MBA, she worked on weekends to create an auto parts company with her boyfriend, which she says gave her quality hands-on experience.

Reflecting on the venture, she said, "I think it's great to have very strong relationships, but I do believe they should be based on skillset. They shouldn't be based on your personal chemistry. I think that the biggest mistake is getting involved in business with someone that you're emotionally involved with, because the emotions come at work, the work comes at home and plays into the emotional relationship. That for me was the biggest mistake I made."

After launching two other businesses and becoming a mother, Gugnani started Wander Beauty. Her experience as an entrepreneur and as a mother inspired the company. She said she wanted to look done-up, despite the limited time she had in her day. Wander's first product was a double-sided makeup stick that works as a blush, highlighter, lipstick and eyeshadow.

Since then, the startup has won over 30 beauty awards in five years, including an Allure '"best of beauty" award. Wander has become a favorite of reviewers, influencers and customers alike, and has won its share of celebrity devotees, including Heidi Klum, Emma Roberts, Sarah Jessica Parker and Molly Sims, among others.

Listen to the episode to hear firsthand advice from Gugnani on starting a business, what she's learned about building her teams and how to enter the industry at the right time.

"I've been in four different industries with four different startups and I've learned them all along the way. You learn it all. Be a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all." —Divya Gugnani

Divya Gugnani is the CEO and co-founder of Wander Beauty.

Want to hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast? Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radioor wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.

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Venture Firm Backstage Capital Cuts Three-Quarters of Staff

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Venture Firm Backstage Capital Cuts Three-Quarters of Staff
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

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Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis
Image by Carolyn Figel

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

“Talent Is Ubiquitous; Access to Capital Is Not': MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Early-Stage Startups
Courtesy of MaC Venture Capital

While venture capital funding has taken a hit this year, that hasn’t stopped MaC Venture Capital from raising $203 million for its second fund.

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