What’s the inspiration behind Ready Set Jet?
In late 2017, I received the Mahatma Gandhi Award for my work as an award-winning serial beauty entrepreneur and my work in women's empowerment. Shortly thereafter, I visited India to attend a wedding. The day I arrived, government officials were waiting to meet me. I met with different ministers, members from Congress and the Supreme Court, and they all asked that I find a way to create impact for the girls of India.
I decided to launch a new brand to use beauty as a vehicle for change—Ready Set Jet. The products are inspired by a back-to-basics approach. We created a revolutionary solution that combines interchangeable packaging with luxury hybrid beauty products customers can take from the beach to the boardroom.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is so much more than skin deep. What I’ve learned in my many years of researching beauty around the world is that beauty begins from within. Kindness, confidence, self-care, and wellness all play a part in the definition of beauty. That’s one of the reasons we added the online academy to Ready Set Jet—we wanted to help women level up personally and professionally within the Ready Set Jet world.
What was it like receiving the Mahatma Gandhi award from the House of Lords?
It was truly an honor to be recognized for the work I had done over the past 10 years. I remember that I was at the Cannes Film Festival shooting some content around French beauty secrets when I received an email that I had been nominated for this prestigious award. A few weeks later, I received another email stating that I was chosen, with the details of the awards ceremony at the House of Lords in the U.K.
You grew up traveling the world. Is there a specific place that has inspired your work?
There are so many places that bring back amazing memories! I’ll start with Kenya. As a child, we would go every few years to visit my grandparents. The beauty of the nature I saw was truly amazing. In researching for my book Passport To Beauty, 99% of the beauty secrets I learned start in nature. This has helped inspire my 360-degree approach to beauty.
Spain is another country I loved. From a beauty perspective, it was like being in a candy store! I learned so many incredible secrets from the women there, from saffron for hair, potatoes for dark circles, “face flashes” with vitamins, and more! It was just like India, where we use so many beautiful plants, flowers, and oils to take beauty to the next level.
One last place I hold very near and dear to my heart is Sedona, Arizona. If you haven’t been, it’s absolutely stunning and energetically beautiful. I actually was in an accident there—my car was struck by lightning! This incident gave me a whole new charge and perspective on my career; I realized I needed to empower women on a much deeper level than just lipstick and mascara. I started creating more experiences for women to thrive inside and out.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenge(s) you’ve faced while launching your company?
1. We launched during a pandemic when the world and our warehouses were on lockdown. We were advised to not launch at all and wait it out. However, I believe that with every challenge lies an amazing opportunity. Even though we had to scrap our plans for in-person launch events, photoshoots, etc., the pandemic re-shaped the company with an even stronger commitment to our brand values. We were able to create a number of strategic partnerships and attract a whole new demographic to our products.
2. The fact that we are a cross-border operation has been a slight challenge. Not everyone believes in playing in two countries at once. Because of that, we’ve had to be very thoughtful about who comes on as an investor or as part of our team. I’m exceptionally happy to say that we have attracted the most amazing investors, who understand the opportunity we are sitting on, as well as our incredible team. We may be an ocean apart, but we never feel it!
As a woman, you’ve faced a great deal of adversity during your career. Where you find your strength and what's your advice for other female entrepreneurs?
It’s definitely been an interesting journey for me as a female entrepreneur. I often forget that I’m a woman because of how my father raised me. However, there have been numerous times I've faced crazy and exceptionally inappropriate situations that most men will never have to face.
I can’t tell you how many women I meet that have faced similar situations. This has only fueled my desire to do the work that I do. In 2016, I launched Power Beauty Living at the United Nations to create a place where women could find mentorship from other women and learn how to navigate these types of situations.
For women facing these issues, know that you’re not alone. I thought I was the only one going through what I went through at the time. But in reaching out to other like-minded women, you realize that a lot of us have had these experiences. There's great strength in being able to lean on a network that understands and can give you guidance.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
I learned that I’m much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. What surprised me the most was being able to look at the process with gratitude and understanding that it put me on my path to purpose.
You’re a bestselling author! What inspired you to write a book?
After working as a celebrity makeup artist, I started appearing on a number of national TV shows, including the CBS Early Show, The Today Show, Dr Oz, The Doctors, and more. I realized no one was celebrating the diversity of the world and multi-cultural beauty. So, I started sharing some of the beauty secrets I had learned on my travels and it hit. I went on to do every talk show you could imagine and was offered a publishing deal by St. Martin’s Press to write my book. I spent the next two years traveling and learning amazing beauty secrets from the women of the world.
You've baked social impact into the DNA of your business. Why did you decide to do this, and how does this work for your company?
In February 2020, I was able to go into the slums in Mumbai to work with girls and women. It was incredible to see their eyes shine when they realized they had a choice to go into a career like beauty. The majority of the girls I worked with had either never been to school or their education stopped at the age of 13. Almost all of them told me they had planned on becoming servants.
We launched our impact program to give these girls skills, vocational training and certification, and livelihood enablement by promoting a SHEconomy that helps break the cycle of poverty. Through Ready Set Jet, I believe we can impact at least 1M girls and women in the next few years.
How do you handle risk and competition?
I learned this lesson very early on in my career when I was launching my first brand on QVC. It was 2 minutes before my live launch and one of my competitors came by and broke my products that I was to demo on set. Thankfully, I had brought an extra set!
I learned that day that I had a choice: I could sit there and worry about my competition, or I could stay in my lane and worry about building my business. I choose to focus on growing my business and customers versus worrying about what my competitors were doing.
Why did you decide to raise from the crowd?
I loved that Republic was a global crowdfunding platform. It spoke to the cross-border play we have with Ready Set Jet. We also appeared on Meet The Drapers, which works closely with Republic.
Most importantly, I thought Republic was the perfect platform to launch a campaign around generating more female investors. A lot of women don’t have the risk appetite or the knowledge on how to invest. Our campaign on Republic allows women to make their first investment at an accessible amount and start their investment journey, while also joining our journey as a company. Additionally, it really democratizes funding for anyone to invest, which is a concept we love.
What’s your team culture like?
Fantastic! As a serial entrepreneur, I know that culture is everything. My team is spread around the world across multiple time zones, but we never feel like we are oceans apart. We stay connected on Zoom, WhatsApp, and Slack. Our team calls have so much camaraderie. It’s very humbling to watch how well everyone works together, as well as how hard everyone works to push us forward.
What is your superpower?
My ability to see around corners and predict trends.
What’s your kryptonite?
It’s my compassion and trust. People have often ended up taking advantage of it early on, so I’ve had to learn how to better protect it.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I travel in the same outfit no matter where I’m flying to, every single time I fly. I have a set of crystals I sleep next to, and I listen to a set of affirmations every morning.
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
Travel, travel, travel! Exploring the world, cultures, sounds, sights, smells is my happy place. I also love to play tennis, read good books, and cook.
I also believe that working from home has created a completely unbalanced approach to self-care. Creating a daily ritual is everything. I give myself the gift of choosing a walk, bath, meditating—anything that makes me happy. I do this for at least 30 minutes every day.
What’s your experience been like as a female founder? Any advice for women looking to start their own company?
I love being a female founder. While there have been challenges from the mere fact that I’m a woman, there have also been so many gifts. I've had the opportunity to help other women look good, feel good, and have the tools to thrive. I love that more and more women are coming together and creating resources to help other women succeed.
For women looking to start a company, this is the time! You can literally connect with anyone on social media and learn, grow, and get mentorship. Don’t be afraid to reach out. You’ll be surprised at how many people want to help.
Creating a tribe of like-minded women to support you on your journey is so important. It makes such a difference.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Pay it forward. I remember I was working as a makeup artist on Hollywood Squares and doing makeup on Simon Cowell, Shaq, Alec Baldwin, etc. Tom Bergeron, the host, heard I was appearing on TV and asked me if he could see one of my segments. After he watched it he called me and told me he had set up a meeting for me with his agent. I asked him how I could thank him since he is behind the reason my TV career took off and he told me, “Shalini—one day you will do the same for another person. Just pay it forward to the next person who needs help." I never forgot that and I still live by that principle today.