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Talking Top Tens: Dineh Mohajer

Founder, Smith & Cult and Hard Candy


Dineh Mohajer created Hard Candy in 1995, while completing her fourth year as a Biochemistry student attending USC. The brand was instantly recognized and embraced by Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols, Sephora and countless other prestigious global retailers. In 1999, Hard Candy was sold to LVMH, the French luxury powerhouse. By early 2002, her next line was born, Goldie, a brand that was regarded as subtle sophistication with punk rock sensibility. The brand was immediately snatched up by Limited Brands for exclusive distribution in their Bath & Body Works and C.O. Bigelow stores. Several years and creative collaborations later, Dineh is bringing about the next evolution of beauty with Smith & Cult, her new ‘5-free’ nail polish line that has developed an instant cult following. Follow Smith & Cult on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

And more with Dineh Mohajer…

Your biggest fashion faux pas, or a regrettable style phase:

My most regrettable style phase was in the ’90s when I had extremely thick stripes of blond highlights. I remember I bought these silly platform sneakers at some tragic boutique on Melrose (east of Fairfax no less) and thought they were so cool.

Your greatest achievement:

Probably starting Hard Candy at just 21 years old, inventing glitter eye pencil, selling the brand to LVMH in 1999 and managing to resist suicidal urges throughout.

What do you love most about your work?

Although my career can be all consuming and very demanding, it’s also what I am most passionate about and love doing the most. I’m grateful everyday to have the opportunity to create beauty brands that I love. 

One piece of advice you would give your 18 year old self:

OMG, where do I begin? Without going into the specifics of the epic mistakes I made, I would tell her to be kinder to herself and others – I’m still learning this, by the way.

Your dream dinner party guest:

Peter Sellers in character as Hrundi V. Bakshi from the film The Party.

Skincare product you can’t live without:

Retin-A. My skin looks clearer, more radiant and smoother. It’s a gold standard.

Go-to workout song on your most recent playlist:

My workout playlist has a steady rotation of Tribe Called Quest, Prince and Biggie Smalls.

The trend you hope never goes out of style:

The return of thick, full eyebrows is beautiful. I hope we never return to the pencil thin brows of the past. Now that I just got to get mine back. 

Charity/charities you support:

I serve on the board for the Juvenile Arthritis Association. It’s an incredible non-profit organization dedicated to spreading awareness and raising funds for kids and young adults diagnosed with pediatric rheumatic diseases. There is a huge misconception that arthritis in children is just bone aches, when in fact it is often a ravaging autoimmune disorder that can lead to horrible conditions such as blindness, organ failure, paralysis or death.

Your (real life) hero:

My dad is the most gentle, loving person I know. He never fails to call me daily to check in on me. He is an OBGYN and saved the lives of both my Mother and me during my birth. After hearing my Mother scream in agony from the pain of unnecessary incisions made by her OBGYN, he rushed into the room and took over. I was breach and my head was stuck on my mother’s cervix. We were both near death. As a result of the surgeon’s negligence, my Mother was in the ICU for 13 days and I had a severe neck injury. My Dad came to hold me and kiss me every day. He is a wonderful physician who saves the lives of underprivileged women at Harbor UCLA daily. Ok, this question is making me cry.