Wende Zomnir ('89)
Urban Decay Cosmetics founding partner
7 p.m. Oct. 17, 2019
In the mid-‘90s, when the prestige beauty market was a boring sea of pink, red and beige, two renegades envisioned a Technicolor shake-up. Wende Zomnir (’89) and Sandy Lerner unleashed Urban Decay Cosmetics on the old-school cosmetics industry, filling the void with makeup in an expansive range of colors with unique shade names that fueled a beauty revolution.
As one of the original founders of Urban Decay Cosmetics, a top-selling makeup brand in the United States, Wende continues to lead the brand and its mission to deliver beauty with an edge, simultaneously providing coveted products and an unexpected point of view.
Originally from Texas, Wende went to high school in Belgium and spent time traveling Europe. Wende moved back to Texas to study journalism at the University of North Texas before moving to Chicago to work for The Leo Burnett Company, a global advertising agency where she specialized in youth culture accounts. But the beach beckoned, so Wende took her marketing skills west. Embracing both her creative side and SoCal culture, she nearly gave up agency life to devote her time to writing, surfing and scuba diving. Wende soon met Sandy Lerner and together they launched Urban Decay Cosmetics.
Wende is an advocate for women’s empowerment, and through Urban Decay Cosmetics created the Ultraviolet Edge, a philanthropic initiative to empower women around the world. By creating a fund supported by product sales, Urban Decay Cosmetics has the flexibility to advocate for a variety of organizations on both a local and global level.
Although being creative, doing what she loves and making a difference is important, Wende believes her greatest accomplishment is as an employer who creates meaningful work and well-paying jobs. She maintains a unique and creative atmosphere in the office with a strict “dogs- allowed” policy and “self-expression-a-must” dress codes.
Wende lives in Newport Beach, California, with her husband Doug and two sons Crash and Cruz. In her spare time, Wende can be found surfing, diving, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, Cross-fitting, playing tennis, hitting a volleyball, mountain biking, practicing yoga, running and, of course, knitting. Her secret ambitions are to become a painter and write a book.
The UNT President's Lecture Series was established in 2019 by UNT President Neal Smatresk as a gift to the UNT and North Texas communities. UNT prepares the creative leaders of tomorrow and by hosting today's visionary and accomplished leaders for the President's Lecture Series, we inspire the next generation to soar higher.