Welcome back to AAPI HERitage Month. Today, we’re introducing you to retail expert turned angel investor and beauty brand founder, Arati Sharma. We dive into her latest venture, Ghlee, which hopes to introduce the world to the understated skincare ingredient that is ghee.

Here’s to soft, buttery skin—literally! Arati Sharma (she/her) is the co-founder of Ghlee, a new skincare brand that emphasizes the power of ghee (aka clarified 🧈). After spending years working on the tech side of the retail industry, Sharma decided to pivot her career and join her brother, Varun, in helping the world combat dry skin with the unconventional ingredient. “A lot of the wellness and beauty space is filled with products and practices that come from South Asia,” she says. “It’s important to me that South Asians are the founders of brands like ours.” See what else you missed on Ghlee below.


What was the inspo behind the brand?
We’re a family of four—my youngest brother, Varun, is the entrepreneur of the bunch. He’s always had chapped lips and one day came to my sister and I with the revelation, “maybe Mom was right about using ghee on our skin.” I joined him on this journey because I was inspired by the idea of bringing our family practices and age-old traditions to the market, together.

What’s been the biggest challenge about entering the beauty space?
As someone who comes from tech, I have this inherent belief (and I’ve seen the data) that there’s an audience for everything. Most people think the challenge is that beauty is saturated, but I don’t believe that. Customers are smarter than ever and are looking to try specific products that work for their lifestyle. What I find challenging about entering the beauty space is the assumption that there is one playbook to win, especially the founder-led playbook. Entrepreneurs aren’t just building businesses and the company’s brand, it’s assumed they need to put themselves out there. It’s a lot—building a business is already mentally challenging, but when you add your own personal social media to the mix, it’s even more draining. Still, I think there are many ways to enter an industry and build a successful business.

You’re also an angel investor. How has that experience helped with the development of Ghlee?
I’ve seen a lot of businesses and met a lot of founders. Business fundamentals aside, as an angel investor I’m looking for two things: 1) Does the founder have what it takes to build a team, believe in their idea in the long term, pivot as the industry changes, etc.?, and 2) Is the hypothesis and offering unique enough, or is there a market for what they want to sell or sell in the future?

As an investor, I have a three-pronged approach to how I come into a business. One is writing a check and getting out of their way. Two is writing a check and coming on as an advisor or board member. Three (which has only happened with Ghlee) is being so invested and excited about building together and coming on as a co-founder. I just never thought it’d be my youngest brother’s brand!

What do you hope to achieve with the brand?
We want to bring the healing and soothing power of ghee to the masses. Our ethos is centered around ointment and remedy, and you’ll see our future products lean more into this category than a brand that wants to do full face or makeup.

What’s your fave Ghlee product?
The Lip Mask. I believe it’s the best lip mask on the market, and I’ve been using it everywhere.

Are there any other beauty products that you swear by?
I’m obsessed with Ceremonia’s Aceite de Moska. It’s not too heavy and a great pre-wash oil. I also like Blume’s Skin Therapy Nourishing Face Oil. Again, so light to put on after moisturizer (oil after moisturizer, folks!). And I’m not the biggest makeup gal, but I love love love Ami Colé’s highlighter balm.

Can you share some advice for women who want to pivot careers or start a side hustle?
Start today, but don’t get caught up in all the toxic positivity on social media. You don’t need to quit your job on day one! Start by building outside work hours and spending some time doing research on all areas of the business and products you want to put out in the world.