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Tarang Amin
Tarang Amin Photo by Chris Hildreth

There's no "i" in e.l.f.

For CEO Tarang Amin, a tightknit team
means everyone makes a difference

There is no doubt Tarang P. Amin ’87, M.B.A.’91 relishes his role as chairman and CEO of the fast-growing makeup brand e.l.f. Beauty. You might say it’s as plain as the eyes and lips on his face.

“Every new candidate we get, I always tell them, oh my God, you’re joining us at the right time,” says Amin, who has been with e.l.f. – which stands for eyes, lips, face – since 2014. “We’re just getting started – and I fundamentally believe that.”

Born to Indian parents in Kenya, Amin and his family immigrated to the United States when he was a child, settling in the Washington, D.C., area. When he was 14, his parents sold their home and used every penny they had to buy a distressed motel, moving into the manager’s apartment and fixing up the property to become a successful enterprise.

Working in a family hospitality business taught Amin the ins and outs of cash flow and economic success – lessons he carried into his work as an executive at The Clorox Company. More importantly, it was the early lessons he learned about managing people that he would use in his work with brands he managed after leaving Clorox, including e.l.f. Amin discovered that working with smaller, more tightknit teams instilled even more optimism and energy into his own work.

“I love these mid-market companies because every single person can make a meaningful difference to our results,” Amin shares. “The ownership people have and the speed at which we can move, in many respects, is more reminiscent of our family business than the large global organizations I found myself in.”

Amin has always had a fully immersed approach to leadership. As the president of the Duke Tour Guides while an undergraduate student, he sampled tours at as many local universities as he could, taking note of what they did successfully and areas where Duke’s tour guides could improve. Once he was at the helm of e.l.f. Beauty, he drew upon lessons learned while he was an M.B.A. student at Fuqua from one of Duke’s most notable leaders – former Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. The positive influence of Coach K’s lectures on leadership have rippled throughout Amin’s professional life, even inspiring him to strengthen his connection to Duke as an alum by becoming an advisory board member at the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics.

In his time at e.l.f., Amin has grown the company from $125 million in market value to $6 billion. And he is proud that, throughout this period of astronomical growth, the company has remained true to its values: providing premium-quality, vegan, cruelty-free products at accessible prices.

Looking to the future, Amin hopes to stay close to his family, including his wife, his 31-year-old son, and his 28-year-old daughter. He jokes that his plan to keep his family congregated in California has backfired, as his daughter has recently announced a move to Brooklyn with her boyfriend.

When it comes to his work, he is not the type to ever feel content or settled. So, despite e.l.f. boasting 18 consecutive quarters of sales growth, Amin has big plans for the brand to continue its ascent. And as the accolades and successes accumulate, Amin finds himself drawing upon the inherent curiosity instilled in him as a Duke student.

“I feel that the longer I’m in business, the more questions I ask,” he says.