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Life & Work with Shona Gupta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shona Gupta.

Hi Shona, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I moved to the LA area for Business School. After that, I held positions in operations, marketing, and business development at Internet Outfitters, KPE Ventures, Mattel, Hearst Media, etc. I even worked for a Hollywood Producer. I’d say my interest in entrepreneurship was sparked over the last ten years. I consulted for several start-ups and led a successful Kickstarter Campaign. My career trajectory has been far from a straight one, but at the same time, I never envisioned myself starting a CBD Skincare line in my late 40’s — but here I am. You just never know what’s going to happen, right? It all started in the summer of 2019 – CBD was all the buzz! I was curious about this movement and my curiosity was propelled into action during a trip to Madison, WI when, after an afternoon swim in a lake with my son, I noticed an angry rash on my cheek. I like to call this “the rash that started a revolution.” I biked down to the local co-op and tried some topical CBD. While the efficacy of CBD was amazing, I did not love the skincare experience – mainly the aroma. It dawned on me that there seemed to be a niche in the CBD that was untapped… I also couldn’t help but notice an incredible surge of incredible Deshi (Indian) women on Instagram – it was time to I-Beauty (Indian Beauty) on the map in the CBD skincare space and I wanted to lead the charge.

I thought about my own family skincare history — my mom was a busy child psychologist who worked at a hospital and went for off-the-shelf products (Nivea, etc.). My Grandmother, however, lived with us and she dabbled in what I like to call “ancient Indian wisdom and beauty practices rooted in Ayurveda” where she used ingredients like amla to create her own “customized” skincare regimen. This is why I decided to meld two powerful modalities – CBD Skincare and Ancient Indian Wisdom as one. I worked with a great chemist in Southern California who helped formulate the recipe to create an incredibly effective CBD-based skincare line. By the summer of 2020, I launched Maharindee. In Hindi, “Maha” means great, and Indira was my grandmother’s name. I’ve abbreviated Indira to Indee — Indee also represents an independent spirit.

Maharindee products are FREE of toxins, sulfates, parabens, mineral oils, phthalates, soy, gluten, SLS/SLES, Formaldehyde, aluminum, fragrance, and artificial dyes, the CBD is non-GMO, grown without pesticides, and farmed with organic practices in Minnesota.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I’ve always managed to wear multiple hats… I’m a mom, a female entrepreneur, and a woman who works in the technology world (I’ve been working in the eCommerce space for a decade). Suddenly, during the pandemic, my commute was gone, and I was able to start my days early in the morning to work on Maharindee, do my full-time job during the day, and then revisit Maharindee in the evening. I also realized I’m not alone. This is the new economy. There are countless women (and men) like me who started new businesses – or side hustles, during the pandemic. I’m proud to say that to date, I’ve managed to successfully devote myself to both jobs while also balancing my role as wife, mom, community advocate while also allotting myself some “me time”. This balancing act has not been easy, I’m not going to sugarcoat it!

We also know that according to a Harvard Business Review study from February 2021, “Women-Led Startups Received Just 2.3% of VC Funding in 2020.” We also know that black and brown women receive a fraction of that pie… This is another challenge that we face. This is why many of us are forced to work multiple jobs and explore alternate avenues of funding (like Wefunder and Chisos Capital). I want to continue to raise awareness around this reality.

Finally, deciding to launch a business during the pandemic was challenging but at the same time, it felt like a great time to introduce a product conducive to self-care. I realized the importance of really connecting with a virtual audience via social media and “amping up” Maharindee’s digital presence. I developed and curated content that felt real and inspiring, coupled with messaging that really explained what the product and brand are about. Like our product, our growth has been organic but with steady sales and great press (Maharindee was featured in Glamour, Brides, and People) my focus is on taking Maharindee to the next level. My motto for Maharindee during the pandemic was simple but positive: ’Here’s to navigating this crazy unprecedented time safely – and also keeping your “MahaGlow” radiating!’

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Having helped market major brands over the years, I knew I was capable of doing the same with Maharindee. I’m a creative thinker, and Maharindee has allowed me to channel this creative energy to get the job done. I am also a facilitator – I love bringing like minds together and thoroughly enjoy collaborating with others.

On a personal note, I lived with a music exec in LA and used to hang with the likes of PJ Harvey and Mick Jagger who once told me to “just stab it Shona” when I was struggling to wrangle an asparagus spear onto my fork at a bbq. Anyways, fast forward to 2021 — I’m a mom who lives in Culver City, and in addition to working a full-time job in tech, I’m also focused on taking Maharindee to the next level!

I’d say there are two achievements I’m most proud of:

Being a mom and wife is something I cherish. I got married to a great guy late in life and was fortunate to have a son at the age of thirty-nine! (Of course, this is not uncommon in the UCLA Santa Monica maternity ward)!

Secondly, working as a teacher in a village in South India after I graduated from McGill University (right out of college was incredibly eye-opening and fulfilling). I worked for activist and author Arundhati Roy’s Mother, Mary Roy. The experience had a profound impact on me. I realized the absolute importance of education for girls and adolescent girls which is why Maharindee is committed to giving back % of proceeds to Room to Read.

To sum it up…there is also something truly freeing about this stage in my life – I’m authentically and unapologetically me. The sum of my life experiences has helped get me here. Experiences that have gifted me with the knowledge and experience to start my own business. Experiences that have given me the confidence to create Maharindee – a product for women (and men) in search of authentic, natural, and simple skincare products that not only make a big impact but also encourage a celebration of one’s inner and outer beauty. That’s what the MahaGlow is all about.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
Let’s start with what I like best: I’ve seen all facets of LA. What I love most about the city is the sense of community (yes, this town is made up of multiple little communities). I also love the proximity to nature. Where else can you hop in your car and find a glorious hike just minutes from your house? We also have gems like LACMA, the Hollywood Bowl, etc…I moved here from NYC and immersed myself in the art and food scene. One of my closest friends is a well-known LA artist…The city surprises me on a daily basis.

My dislike is probably a shared one. Like most people living here, I absolutely can’t stand the traffic! Of course, the pandemic provided us with a brief break from the day-to-day traffic patterns, but sadly, these days, we’re seeing more and more cars on the road. (Thankfully, my family and I took up biking during the pandemic!)

Pricing:

  • The Maharindee Change Maker Super Serum: $70
  • The Believer Face Moisturizer $65
  • The Full Glow Set (includes Serum, Moisturizer, and a jade roller) $165

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Rachael B Photography Claire Painchaud Photography

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