November’s – ‘The Timelessness Issue’ – Download Now
What started as an online blog over a decade ago has transformed into a billion-dollar empire. In an exclusive interview with Emirates Woman, Huda Kattan, Founder of UAE -based Huda Beauty, tells us what it takes to create a timeless brand that’s dominated the beauty space on a global scale.
Can you talk us through your career?
After getting fired from my first job out of university working in finance, my sisters convinced me to go to beauty school. I truly loved beauty and makeup and I took their advice to invest in my passion. I worked as a freelance makeup artist for several years and my sister encouraged me to start writing a newsletter about beauty products that I loved, which I loved and would send out to our friends. That grew organically, so we decided to start the Huda Beauty Blog and the rest is history!
How did you find yourself entering the beauty space?
I was always drawn toward beauty. I’d always watch my big sister, Alya, put on her makeup and was fascinated at how it could transform the way you feel. Once I started using beauty for myself, there was no turning back and I was totally obsessed. I would test and try anything that I could get my hands on. I even started creating my own at-home beauty remedies, which I would share on the Blog and have now grown to be the basis of a lot of our products. I think I always had beauty in my heart. It comes as second nature to me and I truly enjoy the creative outlet that it is for me.
You launched your blog, Huda Beauty, over 10 years ago and now it’s grown into this huge beauty empire. What has the journey to get to where you are now been like?
I honestly can’t believe how far we’ve come. When we started the blog, I honestly never envisioned that we would have one brand – let alone three brands. With the help of my sisters, we launched Huda Beauty in 2011 after seeing a gap in the market. We launched our false eyelashes in Sephora, and they sold out in a matter of days and the brand grew from there! It’s been an incredible whirlwind and we honestly have been so grateful to have the community of all of our day one followers and supports from the blog who have helped grow the brand into what it is today. They have been one of the incredible constants since we began this journey.
Can you talk us through all of the brands under the Huda Beauty umbrella you have now?
Today, we have Huda Beauty, WISHFUL, and KAYALI. WISHFUL, which was born from my personal quest to solve my skincare needs. With WISHFUL we’ve created an assortment of gentle, simple, and effective products that provide instant and long-lasting results. Huda Beauty is the ultimate one-stop shop for makeup lovers. Our products are created with high-end formulas and textures, with the ultimate goal of helping everyone feel empowered, confident, and joyful.
KAYALI is a brand born from my sister Mona’s passion and admiration for fragrance. The inspiration for KAYALI is firmly rooted in our Middle Eastern heritage. We wanted to combine the best of our culture and our western background to encourage perfume layering and inspire everyone to create their own unique combinations.
Social media has played a huge role in growing your brand. When did you realize just how much power platforms like Instagram have?
Our social platforms serve as a tool for us to connect with our community. The fact that I can connect directly with our followers, and ultimately our customers, is so unique to Huda Beauty since we were essentially born on social media.
It’s incredible to see you build this empire with your family around you. Would you say this family feel resonates throughout the entire business?
Absolutely. We honestly think of our teams around the world as a family. We’ve built a company that’s based on the principles of kindness and family spirit. It’s this family spirit that we also try to maintain in the way that we interact with our consumers. We consider them a part of our Huda Beauty fam and are a big part of the machine that keeps us going.
More recently, you launched GloWish which we’re obsessed with! You’ve made a point to not retouch or edit your photos which we really admire. What led you to this decision?
I’ve been a lot of work learning to love and accept myself just as I am, so part of this involved getting used to seeing myself exactly as I am.
I think that everyone should feel beautiful for who they truly are in their rawest states, and I felt the need to be more vocal on the issue of being a part of the beauty industry who is responsible for setting the standards for what’s beautiful. So I wanted to take a stand and speak out about this through GloWish.
What are the hurdles you’ve experienced during your career?
Securing our investors was one of the most challenging things that I’ve ever done. It was so hard to get anyone to take us seriously. My sister and I were literally laughed out of so many boardrooms, but once we finally found a firm that believed in our vision, that was one of the most rewarding moments of my career.
View this post on Instagram
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are the milestones?
Securing our investors was such a defining moment. It was such a huge milestone because many doors were shut on us, so to finally find investors that not only believed in our mission but was prepared to champion us was a special moment.
What’s next for Huda Beauty?
Everything! There are so many things that we’re working on not only in terms of product but also messages that we want to share with the world. Watch this space…
This is ‘The Timelessness Issue’ – how would you define this?
To be timeless, you need to create things that are everlasting and for us at Huda Beauty, that means leaving behind a legacy. For us, we want to be known for not only creating an incredible brand experience and products but also for changing the conversation around what it means to be and feel beautiful.
This year we celebrate the UAE’s 50th Anniversary – what makes this region unique to you?
There is so much richness in our culture and that’s what I love the most about this region. The talent and tenacity are what constantly push and empower me to think big. This region is such an incredible place that really nurtures entrepreneurs from all fields, so we’re so glad to call the UAE our home.
We also celebrate Emirates Woman’s 40th anniversary. How would you now describe the brand and how does it support women in the region and beyond?
Emirates Woman was one of the first titles that truly embraced us from the start. For 40 years, you EW has done an incredible job highlighting and supporting women, who like me, have felt like they didn’t have a seat at the table. I look forward to breaking more boundaries and shattering stereotypes with EW in the next 40 years.
November’s – ‘The Timelessness Issue’ – Download Now
– For more on luxury lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram