t age22, a pair of blue sandalsrurnedDineh
Mohajer from a fashion rebel into a fashion
l- \mogul.ln 1995Mohajer,then a collegestudent at the Universityof California, could only find
shadesof red and pink nail polish in stores.She
wanted somethingto match her pale blue shoes.
shecould not find it, shedecidedto makeher
own. Mixing blue dye with white polish,shecreateda
color that attractedso much attentionthat her sister
Pooneh thought there might be a market for it.
Mohajer took a sampleto the owner of a very trendy
Los Angelesshop where it sold so quickly that the
owner ordered200 more bottles.
This salemarkedrhe starrof Hard Candy,Mohajer's
and Hollywood celebritiesswept
the bottlesof lemonyellow,blueviolet, and lime green
polish off the shelfof the Los Angelesboutique.The
offbeat names-Greed, Chump, Dork, Gank, and
Vegas-that Mohajer gaveher new polishesenhanced DinehMohajerbecamea fashion
their appealto teenageconbumers.
"We coinedthe shefoundedher companyHardCandy,mixingnewnail polish
names,"sheexplains,"to be funny and on the edge.,, colorsin her apartmentbathroom.
It worked.Beforelong, modelsin Elle andSeuenteen
flauntednailsin Hard Candycolors.Major departmentstorescalledin orders.
I7illiam Botts to help her get organized. He found
of Hard CandycaughtMohajer multiple suppliers of dyes, bottles, and caps to decrease
unprepared.With a $50,000loan from her Iranian- costs and speedup deliveries.He created a salesforce
born parents,she, her boyfriend, and her sister and put the accounting system on computer.
Poonehbeganmixing batchesof polish in Mohajer,s
Mohajer now works with cosmetic chemists to
apartmentbathroom.By the fall of 1995, business create formulas for Hard Candy cosmetics and skin
was booming.Hard Candyproduced10,000bottles care products.In 1997 lipstick and a nail polish for
of polish monthly without a businessplan or evena men joined the product line. By 1998 Mohajer mansystemfor billing or taking orders."Beforewe could ageda $10 million business,and Hard Candy's 40
turn around," saysMohajer,"differentstoresneeded employeesproduced 60 colors of nail polish in such
moreand more and more,and it just explodedin our shadesas metallic copper, tar black, and iridescent
Overwhelmed,Mohajer had no time to oversee
Mohajer saysthe target market for her products
salesand distribution.Shehad hopedto restrictsales is young women ages 1,7 to 25. However, Hard
of her polishto fancy,upscalestores,but beforelong, Candy nail polishes and lipsticks also have been a hit
bottlesappearedon drugstoreshelvesand in tattoo with younger teens.Mohajer is confident that shewill
parlors.Imitators brought out their own linesof bold continue to find ways to appeal to both age groups.
"'W'e'rethe age of the demographic we're marketing
Mohajer needed help and she knew it. "Falling into
successand staying there," says Mohajer, ,.are two
different things." She hired 61,-yearold entrepreneur
to, so . . . we don't have focus groups . . . Thatt what
they do in large corporations instead of just going
with their guts. . . !7e always go with our guts."
Mohajer believesthe reason for her successis simple.
"I understand what people my age think is cool.,,