How She Got There: Wende Zomnir, Founding Partner of Urban Decay Cosmetics

Name: Wende Zomnir

Job Title and Description: CEO, CCO and Founding Partner of Urban Decay Comestic 

College Name/Major: University of North Texas, Art


Twitter Handle: @UrbanDecay

Instagram Handle: @udwende

Her Campus: What inspired you to start Urban Decay?

WZ: Urban Decay came about because in 1996, the prestige cosmetics floor was a sea of red, beige and pink. No beauty brands were making high-quality products in alternative shades. Our idea was to create a line of amazing, intensely-pigmented cool colors and completely shock the industry. We didn’t want to just knock on the door of the cosmetics world, we wanted to knock it down.

HC: What was your career path before coming to Urban Decay?

WZ: I was always very into beauty, makeup, experimenting and trying new things so it was natural that I wanted to do something in the beauty industry. I started my career in advertising and working for big agencies, but I knew pretty quickly that I wasn’t interested in a traditional corporate career. That’s when I knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial coupled with my love of beauty, which really led me down the path to launch Urban Decay. 

HC: What does your job entail?

WZ: I’m still super hands-on, especially with product. I try every texture and work with the PD team on the shades. It’s one of my favorite things to do. For the rest of it, I really try to keep the marketing, creative and merchandising teams inspired by providing guidelines and inspiration. My team is great and really run themselves.

HC: What does your typical day look like?

WZ: If I can, I try to spend the morning with my kids and take them to school. Then I usually try to get a workout in and then I head to the office. On a typical Monday, I go in and work with my product development team and look at calendars and name shades and work on new artwork and graphic treatments. It’s a day I spend being creative and immersed in the product, trying new things. And then at the end of the day, I go through some of the administrative stuff and come home and do something with my boys.

HC: Do you have any plans to release new makeup or expand in the future? 

WZ: I feel like this year we have such an exciting line up of products coming. We’ve always got new collaborations, new creative, and one of the things I love about Urban Decay is that it’s never the same day. Our products are always evolving and they always look a little bit different.  For me what’s next for the brand is really that journey of continuing to evolve it and look at it in a new way, keeping it fresh and modern.

HC: How do you think the online beauty influencer community on platforms such as YouTube have changed the industry?

WZ: You Tube channels, blogs and videos are a great way to learn how to experiment…people now feel more confident to try new makeup looks. The industry has exploded since the introduction of YouTube and has only increased with the addition of Instagram, Snapchat and other social media apps.

HC: What was the most memorable moment in your career so far?

WZ: The most memorable moment was when I received an award from CEW (the Oscars of the beauty world), and brought my two boys with me. They were so proud to be there, and it was really sweet to see them so happy for me. I’ll always treasure that moment.

HC: What advice would you give to college women pursuing a similar career path?

WZ: Always remember that you get into this business for the passion—because you’re passionate about beauty and for makeup and for artistry, but it’s also important to remember that it is a business. You have to treat it that way. You have to come at it like a businessperson a lot of days and not just like an artist. What I tell people it that it’s fun to make money. You want to generate dollars because it allows you to do so many other things with your brand, with your counter, with your events and everything else.

HC: What is one thing that stands out to you most when you are considering hiring someone?

WZ: One of the most important things that you can do is to make yourself known. That is what both Steve Kassajikian (global makeup artist) and Amanda Rodriguez (global artistry manager) did, they made themselves known to me. I was at an event in NY when Amanda was our field sales person on the floor and she rocked it out. She made conversation with me, made sure I knew who she was, asked me for a photo, and then she followed up. She made herself known to me and she proved herself to be a rock star at her job.