How Did I Get Here?

Wende Zomnir

Co-founder and chief creative officer, Urban Decay
  • Education
  • St. John’s International School, Waterloo, Belgium, class of 1985
  • University of North Texas, Denton, class of 1989
  • Work Experience
  • 1983–85
    Model
  • 1989–94
    Client service coordinator, account executive, Leo Burnett
  • 1989–94
    Aerobics instructor, Bally Total Fitness
  • 1994–95
    Account supervisor, Wunderman Cato Johnson
  • 1995–2004
    “Ms. Decay,” executive creative director, Urban Decay
  • 2005–Present
    Chief creative officer, Urban Decay
  • Life Lessons
  • “Makeup isn’t about covering your flaws—it’s about expressing yourself.”
  • “Being a mother teaches you to be a good manager.”
  • “The work is finding the perfect intersection between art and commerce.”
  • With her prom date, 1984
    “I played basketball—we’d play at schools all over Europe, so I got to see these great places.”
  • “I worked on Marlboro, which pained me.”
  • With Leo Burnett colleagues and friends, 1993
  • “I got a call from the fiancé of a friend I’d met at Bally who said, ‘I work for this woman who started Cisco Systems. She has an idea for a cosmetics company. Do you want to meet with us?’”
  • “We got bought by L’Oréal in 2012. To take the brand globally, you really need a partner with the infrastructure and ability to do that. We’ve expanded into 28 countries, and sales are about $475 million.”
  • 1998: Midnight Cowboy eye shadow: “The edgy name was part of the secret sauce—it was naughty. That was our first big hit.”

    2010: Alice in Wonderland book of shadows: “We sold out before they even got on shelves.”

    2015: UD Gwen Stefani eye shadow palette: “To circle back and work with her when we’re both adults is a thrill.”
  • “I went to Southern Methodist University for a year, but it was too debutante for me.”
  • “On catalogs and newspaper shoots, they’d say, ‘Bring a nude pair of pumps, a black pair of pumps, and a makeup kit.’ You had to do your own.”
  • Modeling a Flashdance-inspired look, 1983
  • Manson and Stefani
    “We launched with nail polish and lipstick. I would show up at music festivals to track down Shirley Manson and Gwen Stefani and get them to try the products. It was guerrilla, grass roots.”
  • With her kids near their home in Newport Beach, Calif., 2015