Get active doing something you enjoy. Maybe running isn’t your thing, but a BollyX class is more your jam. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick to it!
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Minal Mehta the Chief Operating Officer at The Good Face Project, the world’s largest ontology of cosmetic ingredients, where she oversees all strategy, marketing initiatives, brand and community, and day-to-day operations for the company. Since joining the team in 2019, Minal has been integral to the growth of the company, spearheading the launch of The Good Face Project’s app in July 2020.
Minal’s career has been highly entrepreneurial, specializing in launching and rapidly scaling ventures in the wellness space. In 2013, Minal launched BollyX, the world’s largest and fastest growing Bollywood fitness company. As Co-founder and CEO, she brought to market the fitness products, licensing and distribution model and drove BollyX’s powerful brand to build a community around positive and healthy living. From 2018–2019, Minal was CMO of fintech startup Brigit, where she spearheaded the launch and growth engine of a small-dollar lending app for consumers looking for a financial safety net. Additionally, Minal brings extensive experience in building teams and managing operations from her work at Amazon, Hotwire, and Cornerstone Research.
Minal graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Economics with Honors and earned her M.B.A. in general management from Harvard Business School. She lives in New York City with her husband and her very outgoing toddler and enjoys teaching BollyX classes to stay active and connected to dance.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I love being an entrepreneur, and my personal mandate is to build, build, and build — but more than that, it’s to build good things with good people. At The Good Face Project, I get to work with a badass team of engineers, data scientists, beauty geeks, and moms to bring to market groundbreaking tech that puts consumers in command of their purchasing decisions around skin health. We just launched the Good Face app, an app that takes personalization in the beauty space to an unprecedented level. Not only can consumers learn which products and ingredients are safe from harmful toxins, but they can actually design a skincare routine that is the best match for their unique skin profile and needs. Our recommendations are brand agnostic and based on the most up-to-date research behind ingredient safety and efficacy. It’s exciting work, to say the least!
I have been personally connected to the wellness space my entire life, and I find that serving the needs of people in the wellness space creates a tremendous real impact in people’s lives. Having grown up myself as an athlete and dancer, in a family of healthcare workers, and consistently mindful about my personal lifestyle and health, I have experienced that simple choices based on what we consume have the power to transform lives in a positive way.
My entrepreneurial career really took off seven years ago, when I launched my first wellness company — a Bollywood fitness company called BollyX. I was a couple of years out of Harvard Business School, and I wanted to build something I felt personally passionate about. What started as a goal to tie fitness and Bollywood dance together quickly became something much more powerful: the mission to build a community around self-empowerment, positivity, and the inspiration to “unleash your inner rockstar.” I’ve been so proud to watch our community grow globally, activate fitness and healthy living in more and more people, and diversify the fitness industry as a whole.
My professional journey as an entrepreneur and business leader continues to prove to me that I can build things that have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. The more initiatives and experiments I run, the more rapidly I can learn and iterate, and the better my team and I can run towards the mission.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My biggest mistake was “taking the safe route” for many years of my career, in industries that didn’t personally speak to me, despite the entrepreneurial drive in me to start a business. The first half of my career was a marathon of corporate settings, where I was working my bump off, but where I was feeling unfulfilled.
Even after I had gone to business school and landed a “cushy” job in corporate America, I remember evenings when I would come home from work being physically nauseous from my job. I knew it was time to make a change for my own personal wellness.
Since becoming an entrepreneur, there has been a structural shift in my life. I’m operating in a world in which there is more alignment between who I am, what I believe, and what I am doing. It doesn’t come without the hard lessons, such as partnering with the right team of people, knowing when to change course, and drawing boundaries between my professional and personal lives. However, my confidence in what I can achieve is only growing, and the work I’m doing is actually “fun!”
The most important lesson I have learned? Believe in yourself and chase opportunities that challenge you to operate at the next level and push you to learn and grow.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I believe good managers and team players have the power to impact and change the trajectories of people’s lives and bring a real sense of personal mission. I’m particularly grateful to Iva Teixeira and Lena Skliarova-Mordvinova — co-founders at The Good Face Project — for taking the bet to work with me on this exciting adventure to build an AI beauty startup. It’s been a wild ride, and they are the most genuine, talented people for me to work with.
The best part — Iva and I happened to reconnect after many years at the wedding of a mutual friend from business school, where we quickly hit it off and started noodling on the idea of working together. The rest is history! My learning here? You never know who your business partner could become, so keep in touch with the badass people in your network!
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Our mission at The Good Face Project is to solve the broken shopping experience in the beauty industry and empower consumers with the information they need to choose the best products for themselves and their families. Here’s the problem: regulation in the beauty industry is outdated AND understanding product formulations for safety and efficacy is confusing for the consumer.
Our team’s groundbreaking innovation is utilizing artificial intelligence and data science to not only build the world’s largest, most powerful ontology of products and ingredients, but to also deliver to the consumer a highly personalized set of recommendations for skincare products that fulfill the needs of their unique skin.
We believe this is a game changer for how people shop. It will build confidence in the shoppers’ ability to choose safe and effective products. And it will raise the bar for the beauty industry as a whole to make clean beauty the standard.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Swap to “clean” products. Look at the products you’re using in your daily life and change whatever’s harmful to your health!
- Get active doing something you enjoy. Maybe running isn’t your thing, but a BollyX class is more your jam. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick to it!
- Wake up with a smile. You’d be surprised at how the act of smiling can set the tone for a happier rest of the day.
- Moderation is key. Treat yourself to that glass of wine or that piece of chocolate. Just don’t overdo it!
- Make a call to a family member or friend. This pandemic can be hugely isolating for people. It’s great to check in and maintain human connection with the people you love.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I believe the “clean beauty” movement will bring wellness to everyone, especially as it raises the standards of the personal care and beauty industry as a whole. Personal care is a category that literally touches each and every person, from skincare to grooming to suncare and makeup. We are all putting chemicals on our skin! The more mindful we can be as consumers about what we choose to buy, and hence support, the more we can demand for brands and retailers to build products that are safe for our health and the environment.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- A good team is the most important ingredient to success. Choose your people carefully, and listen to what your gut is telling you about them.
- There’s room in the market for more than one, so don’t be intimidated by the competition and build what is authentic to you.
- Don’t pressure yourself to reinvent the wheel. If you can execute an idea better, go for it!
- Every failure makes you stronger.
- Your career doesn’t define you, so have fun with it.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
I believe mental health should be something that everyone works on. I believe conversations around mental health should be normalized. And I believe that it should be easier for people to get help for mental health when they seek it.
I grew up in a South Asian culture where yoga and meditation for mental health were literally conceived, but where seeking therapy is considered taboo. We need to change the perception that mental health can only come from within.
Specifically, I see tremendous value in the role that community building can play in lifting mental health in people. Having a positive community makes you feel connected, accepted for who you are, and supported in life.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I’m on Instagram at @minal.
Thank you for these fantastic insights!