portrait of divya gugnani

Divya graduated from Cornell with a bachelor’s degree in policy analysis and management. She later went on to earn her MBA from Harvard Business School. She is the founder of Wander Beauty, a beauty company that focuses on fewer, better, multitasking beauty essentials, and she is launching a new brand in the fine fragrance space this fall. Divya also founded Concept to Co, an investment firm that invests in extraordinary founders to launch brands and services.

Where did the inspiration for your business come from?

My cofounder, Lindsay Ellingson, and I were constantly time-starved, on the go, and living our lives in motion. As a working mom of two, I was doing my makeup on the subway, my skincare at the gym, and my hair at my desk at work. Lindsay was traveling the world on planes, trains, and automobiles for modeling. The average woman was only spending 15 minutes on her beauty routine. We wanted clean, fuss-free, foolproof beauty, but there were no brands speaking to us. So in 2015, we created Wander Beauty—effortless everyday essentials you reach for every day, wherever you wander.

If you could go back in time before you started your business, what would you tell yourself?

Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it’s not right for you.

What has been the greatest challenge that you have faced on your entrepreneurial journey?

With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to start a business. Scaling those businesses is the real challenge. It requires recruiting and building a roster of talent that has done it before.

What are you most proud of about your journey and/or company?

Winning our first Allure Best of Beauty Award in 2017 was a major moment. Growing up, I used to spend my allowance buying Allure Magazine. I still read the Allure emails every day, so I’m beyond excited that we won our seventh Allure Best of Beauty Award last year! It’s truly a pinch-me moment as I consider this the Oscars of the beauty industry.

Entrepreneurs wear many hats and must quickly become a master of all trades, so how do you find mentors and foster connections along the way?

Don’t underestimate the value of peer mentorship. People who are also on the journey at the same stage and size are going through what you’re going through, so they are great resources to learn from. I’m constantly reaching out to my peers for their help when facing challenges. Also, I invest in companies and learn about how they do things better, faster, and cheaper than I did when I started out.

Do you have any piece of advice for Cornellians starting out their own entrepreneurial journey?

Nike said it best. Just do it. That’s the best way to learn.

What role has the Cornell network played in your career?

I made some of my best friendships during my years at Cornell. My sorority sisters still serve as the best sounding boards for advice and guidance in both my personal and professional lives.

What do you miss about being on campus the most?

Being surrounded by all of my friends!

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