Behind Her Empire: Wellness Expert Mona Vand on Going From Pharmacist to Influencer

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.

​Mona Vand in black and white
Mona Vand

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, influencer Mona Vand discusses the trials and tribulations of building a business around your personal brand.

As the daughter of Iranian immigrants, Mona Vand believed she only had three paths in life.

“Doctor, lawyer engineer,” she laughed. “That's the biggest inside joke with all Iranians, because that's just what's the most respected.”

Vand landed a great pharmaceutical job right out of college and made her parents proud. But she quickly realized working as a pharmacist wasn’t making her happy. So when a close friend who worked as a news anchor offered her a way out, she jumped at it.

“She was like, ‘Oh, my God, you're so cute. You should come on [the news] and be the expert. We have doctor experts [on] all the time,’” Vand said. “So then I was like, could this be a career in itself? My wheels started spinning.”

This was during the Dr. Oz era — when Oprah Winfrey tapped a former health expert for her show and ended up creating a new television talk show host. At the same time, beauty bloggers were taking to social media platforms to offer advice and creating a new type of occupation. Vand started thinking maybe she could follow that path to make a career for herself. She began sharing her wellness advice on social media to try and build up a following.

“I was like, ‘Could I be like a younger, more modern version of Dr. Oz?’ That would be my dream career because I wouldn't be wasting my degree, and I could also do the thing I love,” she said.

Vand spent a couple years trying to figure out how she should market herself on social media. She said one of her biggest mistakes early on was signing a contract with a marketing agency that required she essentially give up the rights to her brand to get a shot at striking out as an influencer.

“It was pretty much within three to four weeks after launching [the website] when I realized this wasn't the right partnership,” she said.

After a few difficult conversations, she was able to get out of the deal and regain control of her brand. She learned an important lesson: “Not everyone who's successful has the right advice for what you're doing,” she said. “It's all contextual.”

While working with the marketing agency, Vand secured a sponsorship that allowed her to quit her pharmacy job for a year. But once the partnership dissolved, she was forced to go back to work at the pharmacy.

“It was very humbling and also very hard,” she recalled. “I remember talking to my brother about it and I was crying, like, ‘I don't want to go back’.”

But Vand continued posting daily content and documenting wellness tips and routines in her own life, constantly testing different content styles and formats to see what worked. It was her “what I eat in day” videos that really blew up and positioned her to become a successful entrepreneur.

“I was just so invested in my brand, and I just wanted it so bad that it wasn't hard, honestly,” she said.

Now, Vand has more than one million subscribers on TikTok and YouTube and her content ranges from skincare, to cooking, to natural remedies to treat ailments.

“We're in an interesting time where women are expected to do it all, where you can have a full time career and be a mom and be this boss and I can do anything a man can do. And I I love that we have the opportunity to do that,” she said. “But I also think that you shouldn't feel bad if you don't want to do all those things[…] Everyone's fulfilled by different things.” Social and Engagement Editor Andria Moore contributed to this post.

This podcast is produced by Behind Her Empire. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.

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