Born to Iranian parents Reza and Shahnaz Mohajer, Dineh grew up in the wealthy Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Dineh has a sister named Pooneh. It is reported that as a child Dineh felt often alienated because of her heritage. Her father, who is a cancer specialist, had medical school in mind for his bright and energetic daughter. One fateful day, as legend has it, Dineh was looking for the right shade of blue to match her strappy blue shoes. She was off for the summer holidays before starting medical school and wanted to kick back and enjoy some mindless fun. A few mixes of polish later, and she had the perfect match. She wore the shade out and was nearly attacked by a saleswoman in Charles David. It was then that Pooneh and Dineh decided to seriously consider pitching the idea of new nail polish in creative shades to the department stores. Dinah was 22 years old.
Magic in a Bottle:
Dineh enlisted the help of her sister Pooneh and her boyfriend Benjamin Einstein. The three came up with $200 to buy some nail polish and supplies from the beauty store. One business plan, and a few sample shades later, they decided to pitch upscale fashion shop Fred Segal. While going through the pitch, a 16-year-old customer saw the shades and wanted all four instantaneously. The owner set the price at $18 a bottle on the spot and sold them to the demanding teenager. With no supplies left, Fred Segal placed an order with Dineh for 200 bottles that same day.
Dineh and her family and friends set to work calling the company Hard Candy. Orders started to come in at a faster pace, once teenage fashion magazines Elle and Seventeen published the news on the hot new shades. The first four colors were called Sky (pale blue), Sunshine (yellow), Mint (green), and Violet (lavender). With celebrities catching on, there was a fever frenzy for the product and Dineh and her team worked night and day to meet demands. Dineh was exhausted from all the work. As Hard Candy got more orders and more frazzled, her parents took the business more seriously. Dineh’s mother, who had run her husband’s office and had great organizational skills, flew in to help out. Soon the family invested a six-figure sum into the company and Dineh eventually hired a proper CEO to run the operations and business side if things. William Botts, a former cosmetics-industry executive, came in to take the company to the next level. Mohajer trusted him enough to run the operations but kept a fimr hold on the creative and marketing aspects of the business.
Within approximately 2 years, the business grew to a $10-million-dollar company. Dineh kept the creative juices flowing by staying in touch with her target market of 15 to 25-year-olds. She created new mod shades called Porn, Trailer Trash and Jailbait. It wasn’t long before cosmetic giants had a contender and big companies took notice of this new cultural phenomenon. Fashion conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), who owns the likes of Donna Karen, Givenchy, Sephora, TAG Heuer, and Veuve Clicquot, jumped at the chance of owning a piece of the profits. The acquisition made sense and afforded Hard Candy a great distribution network and a strong, sophisticated brand to attach itself to. Industry estimates say that the company was sold for a cool $30 million. Mohajer and Einstein still work for the company and man the creative, branding, and marketing arms. Sister Pooneh is the legal counsel.
Today, Hard Candy is sold in fine department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus. LMHV is a public company headquarted in Paris with a turnover of 12 billion Euros a year. They have 56,000 employees worldwide and own a large portfolio of companies in the following industries: Wine & Spirits, Fashion & Leather, Perfumes & Cosmetics, Watches & Jewelry, and others. The group was created in 1987 and is run by Bernard Arnault.