GS Alumna Advocates for Diversity in the Beauty Industry
Born in Virginia Beach, Va., Pritika Swarup’s ’21GS journey has been anything but traditional. Famed as the “World’s Most Fabulous Financier” by the New York Post, Swarup has modeled for some of the biggest names in the fashion and beauty industries, including MAC Cosmetics, Fenty Beauty, and Prabal Gurung. Having appeared on the covers of international magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, she is one of the industry’s biggest and brightest new stars. Although she is regularly relied upon for her beauty industry expertise, her impact is felt on a much larger scale through her advocacy on social issues such as diversity and women’s rights, as well as through her global activism.
Columbia’s diverse collegial environment encouraged me to lead a multidimensional life while pursuing my passions, and gave me the tools to forge my own path.
Swarup’s humanitarian efforts can hardly be described as few and far between. Swarup is a Global Ambassador for Operation Smile, speaking at conferences and participating in medical missions in India, South Africa, and Mozambique in support of free corrective surgeries for people born with a cleft lip or palate. In addition, she is a fierce advocate for equality and, in 2019, spoke before the United Nations General Assembly about women’s rights in developing countries and the responsibility of public figures, particularly in the entertainment industry, to lead by example when it comes to actively supporting and highlighting worldwide humanitarian efforts.
Swarup arrived at Columbia with a budding career in the fashion industry and a desire to do more with her experiences.
“Columbia’s support of my outside involvements gave me the opportunity to continue building my career in the fashion industry while exploring new opportunities and expanding my knowledge base,” she said.
Taking courses in everything from 1960s literature to the history of New York, Swarup quickly found her home in finance. During her time at Columbia, she founded the University’s largest secondary market investment fund, Praetorian Management LLC, and joined New Legacy, a firm based in New York, as an investment analyst.
“Columbia’s diverse collegial environment encouraged me to lead a multidimensional life while pursuing my passions, and gave me the tools to forge my own path.”
Graduating with a bachelor's degree in financial economics, Swarup is looking forward to bringing her new-found knowledge into the next chapter of her life as an entrepreneur. And, she says, coming to Columbia was not a divergence from her career in the fashion industry, but rather a natural extension of it.
“The support I received from GS, coupled with a well-rounded liberal arts curriculum, gave me the ability to see beyond the horizon, into the non-profit space, and ultimately into uncharted territory where I mapped out my beauty and wellness start-up Prakti.”
Set to launch in the fall of 2021, Prakti is an international beauty and wellness company whose aim is to promote diversity and inclusion in the beauty industry. Having spent most of her life surrounded by fashion and feeling disheartened by the lack of diversity she saw, Swarup’s hope is to promote significant change within the industry and incorporate Indian beauty into mainstream skincare.
The liberal arts education I received at Columbia was truly the key to unlocking the world around me and opening doors I never knew existed.
Reflecting upon her time at Columbia, she highlights one professor from the Department of Economics who had a major impact on her choice to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and found Prakti.
“To this day, Professor Tri Vi Dang has remained a constant—always available as a sounding board, trusted voice, and kind advisor—living up to and advancing the mission and vision set out by President Bollinger,” Swarup said.
Now, having completed her studies at Columbia this past spring, she is an advocate for the importance of a Columbia education, especially as made accessible by GS.
“The liberal arts education I received at Columbia was truly the key to unlocking the world around me and opening doors I never knew existed, much less would have had time to open.”
Advising others to fully commit to their craft and be fearless in their pursuits, Swarup is doing the same by learning from her past experiences, investing in herself, and preparing to take the beauty industry by storm.