Shalini Vadhera is an award-winning entrepreneur and bestselling author of Passport to Beauty whose sole mission is to create a global beauty, lifestyle and business empire to make women look and feel good. Business is in her blood and her passion is to build companies and create products to empower women all over the world. Excerpts from an interview with Shalini Vadhera, Founder and CEO of Ready Set Jet who believes that beauty transcends all boundaries.
Please tell us about your family background?
My parents are Punjabi. My dad immigrated to the US to attend college and married my mom who is from Chandigarh. My parents were very traditional and conservative. This made me a bit rebellious! It was a struggle for me to fit in between two cultures and was bullied in school because I looked different and was not allowed to do the things my peers were doing. I remember a group of boys throwing a pile of dog poo at me telling me how ugly I was. There were quite a few other experiences like that during most of my mid-school years!
How was your childhood?
I grew up in Southern California and spent my childhood by the beach. Every few years we would visit my grandparents in Kenya or in India. On our flights we would stop in different countries like Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and UK. As a young girl, I was impressed by the flight attendants on those airlines. This had an impact on my career and was one of the reasons why I chose this path celebrating global beauty.
What were your dreams?
My dreams were always glamorous. I was always enchanted with beauty since the days when I was a little girl. I even decorated my bedroom as a fragrance counter in a department store when I was a teenager. Don’t ask! I think my mom had a huge influence on me when it came to beauty. Her mornings always started with hair and makeup.
Did you always want to become an entrepreneur?
No! In fact I didn’t have much choice although I’m so happy the way it worked out. When I was 19 my dad handed me a plane ticket to India and $2000 and told me it was time for me to start my own business. What? I cried on that flight thinking they were sending me off to get married! But, my dad really wanted me to learn how to run a business. I started with knitwear surf and golf sweaters with one of my uncles in Ludhiana. I then went into semi-precious stones and sterling silver jewelry which I sold to the department stores and I never thought any differently than one of an entrepreneur after that. It was truly the best gift my father ever gave me along with his amazing support.
What was the turning point in your life?
A few! The first one was when I got the offer to write my best-selling book ‘Passport to Beauty’ while I was launching my brand in Sephora and on QVC. The second one was my spiritual awakening in 2014 when I was called to Sedona Arizona to meet a Korean Master who I had met a few years back. On the way there, my car was struck by lightning and I felt the charge go thru the left side of my body. When I finally arrived in Sedona, the Korean master was waiting for me. He gave me four things to do that weekend. He told me the 5th thing was my homework which I would know at the end of the weekend. I knew I needed to empower women more than lipstick and mascara. I needed to give them access to women mentors, confidence and wellness techniques. I came home that weekend and put together a small event which I called ‘Power Beauty Living’. I thought maybe 20 of my friends would come but 175 women turned up and 8 women got jobs. Within a year the United Nations asked me to speak on the floor of the UN and introduce Power Beauty Living to 350 country heads, CEO and diplomats. I’m proud to say the Power Beauty Living is now a nonprofit which aims to empower women.
What were the other remarkable landmarks in the journey of your life?
In late 2017, I received the Mahatma Gandhi Award at the British House of Lords for my work in beauty and women empowerment. A few months later I came to India for my cousin’s wedding. The day I arrived in Delhi, there were a few government officials and ministers who wanted to meet and asked me to find a way to influence the girls of India. I knew that the time had come to use beauty for a higher purpose
How did you start your business ventures?
I’m a true entrepreneur building and creating a number of brands not only for myself but for others too. My brands are mostly about my discoveries around the world and going in a lab and creating products that celebrate those secrets. My brand ‘Passport to Beauty’ does just that. It is a bestselling book that shares the best beauty secrets from around the world. I share these beauty secrets on a lot of television shows as well as international media in Amsterdam where I travel quite often to discover new beauty secrets around the world. Power Beauty Living has now become a Foundation to skill and train underprivileged women. I am an award-winning brand and product formulator as well. I have created brands like The Baywatch Movie brand for Paramount Pictures, Brand for Turner Classic Movies and for influencers and celebrities.
Would you like to tell us about your latest venture — Ready Set Jet?
Our objective behind Ready Set Jet – is to change the future of women by introducing innovative cutting edge vegan skincare and makeup that brings beauty solutions to the savvy Indian consumer while also giving back to skill and vocationally train girls that don’t have access to education. We are also launching the Ready Set Jet online Academy for anyone anywhere to Ready Set Jet the world and work with the top instructors. You can gain personal and professional skills here while meeting a likeminded community.
What inspired you to get into the beauty industry?
I’ve always loved beauty and the rituals I learned growing up and through my travels. My very first job was working at a counter for Clinique. I remember doing my first makeover. The very next day I received flowers and a card from her husband saying “Thank you for bringing back my wife. She has cancer and you put a smile back on her face”. That was the day I knew what I wanted to do forever. And the importance of being able to help a woman with her self esteem
Did you face any failure? How did it make you push yourself and become one of the renowned women entrepreneurs in the beauty industry?
Failure is never fun. But my spiritual side made me look at failure as a lesson. Looking back, I now realize that failure is actually a gift…something you should be grateful for. You learn and become wiser, stronger, and smarter. It helped me become wise enough to help women and make them not to make the same mistakes I made.
How did ‘Ready Set Jet’ came into existence?
Ready Set Jet was developed after I received the Mahatma Gandhi Award and met the government officials. I wanted to create a mission-driven brand that would impact millions of women. I knew there was never a better time to use beauty for a higher purpose. Why not look good, feel good and be able to do good at the same time The products are the first of their kind that allows you to mix and match and customize to your needs.
Would you like to elaborate on the mission of Ready Set Jet?
Ready Set Jet’s mission is to empower women. I truly believe that confident women can change the world. That’s why we have a mission to skill girls in the marginalized communities while also bringing amazing experiences, products and courses for women everywhere so they have the tools to live their most powerful and beautiful life.
Would you like to talk about your Crowd funding campaign?
It was important to me to stay true to the mission of why we started Ready Set Jet. With so many declining opportunities for women in 2020, I wanted to level the playing field and create more female investors. For a limited time, I’ve opened up a campaign where anyone (especially women) can invest as little as $100 or $7300 rupees and own equity in Ready Set Jet. I want to walk in a boardroom and not be the only woman. I want more women to have their voice heard in the future of beauty and wellness. I want a woman to proudly walk in a room and say that she is an investor and owns equity in a global beauty brand. We have to come together.
What made you associate with Ranveer Allabadia and Deeksha Ahuja? How is it going to help RSJ?
I couldn’t be more thrilled with the partnerships with Ranveer and Deeksha. Both powerhouses in their own right and are very aligned with our mission. Ranveer came in as an investor and part of our founding team in India. It’s as important (if not more) to have men pushing women empowerment as it is women. When I met Ranveer, I knew he was the perfect person with a shared vision to help me build this in India. Deeksha turned out to be a successful strategic partnership as well as a strong and talented fellow female founder. Deeksha understands the importance of creating resources and opportunities for women who are starting their entrepreneurial journeys. We have some exciting plans of what we are going to be bringing the women of India. I can’t wait!
What are your future goals and aspirations?
Ready Set Jet products were initially designed for the wanderlust’s of the world and anyone on the go. I’m looking forward to playing in the travel space again as well as building our Academy into a world-class destination that not only brings the best of the world’s experts to our members but also showcases the beauty of India to the rest of the world. We have over 35 amazing products already formulated with specific products designed to celebrate all skin tones across India, best in class ingredients I’ve curated from my travels and beauty solutions that my chemists and I have made where every product is packed with multiple uses like double-duty beauty. Ranveer and I are already working on a special line that we will share soon.
What are your expansion plans?
We are currently a US /India player but are tapping into our deep relationships around the world. Ready Set Jet is all about loving your world and how transformative beauty and travel can be. We look forward to being a global beauty brand that intersects amazing products with world-class education.