November’s – ‘The Timelessness Issue’ – Download Now
Hind Sebti, Founder of whind, has created a beauty brand that brings uncompromising potency and performance together.
Can you talk us through your career?
After a master’s in industrial engineering, I started my career a little bit over 20 years ago at Procter & Gamble in Paris – my top pick company- as a Supply Chain and Logistics Manager. Very quickly, I was in charge of the beauty category. And whilst in that role, I realised that I had a deep passion for consumers and products and against all the odds of the functional silos at the company at the time, I was able to move into a brand marketing role in beauty and the rest is history. I moved to London in 2007 to be in charge of part of the Olay portfolio, a role that has not only provided the best training in the world of skincare but also to work on a global love brand and create a bond with that category that will stay with me. Over the following years, I grew from product to brand to general management first at Procter & Gamble where I was lucky to learn world-class brand and business building to L’Oréal where my beauty passion blossomed to the next level, in the company of like-minded beauty-obsessed talent. So in the span of the last 20 years, I was lucky to lead some of the world’s iconic brands such as Olay, L’Oreal Paris or Maybelline and cult ones such as Essie or Pureology. In my last role as General Manager of Maybelline and Essie for the UK&I, the entrepreneurial bug finally caught up with me with the overwhelming desire to create a brand, I knew that my and consumers like me couldn’t find. A new vision of beauty.
What inspired you to go into the beauty space?
Growing up in Morocco, Beauty – with a capital B – was everywhere: the landscapes, the architecture, the craftsmanship, the food and of course the beauty rituals. As a born dreamer, I thrived on seeing beauty in everyday details, how to “sublime” the ordinary to make it extraordinary. Starting with personal beauty. Through watching women around me. The Hammam ritual. My mother’s vanity table. And most of all that beauty is as much about how it makes you look than it makes you feel. This was the birth of my fascination with that world that is much deeper than it appears. Through my academic journey, I grew up to also become a maker, a problem solver and an aspiring business builder. So intuitively I decided to find a career that would balance the dreamer and the maker in me. And that was brand building in the beauty industry.
How did you come to launch your own brand, whind?
The realisation that something was missing when it came to skincare. That the market had become increasingly performance-obsessed at the expense of the overall experience. That all brands started to fuse into a sea of sameness of minimalistic, clinical works. Which is great for
the consumer who likes that. But there is another consumer that wants both performance and experience – like me- that isn’t catered to. And experience is key in skincare as this is what makes up consistently use your products every day and consistency is the key to results. So having high-performance products and indulging in them every day because they are so snacking to use will make them hyper-performing. So this is where the idea of an evocatively potent skincare brand came to life. When it came to potency and performance, I relied on my 20-year experience and the best labs and chemists I knew. And when it came to sensoriality I found inspiration in my homeland of Morocco. That’s why I say that whind is powered by warm science and inspired by Morocco. For skin so healthy snd happy it glows. Beyond high-performing products, I also wanted to create a brand with a different beauty point of view, a warmer one that reflects the values, aesthetics of our part of the world and bring it to the global stage.
What is at the core of whind’s brand DNA?
It starts of course with extraordinary products that are the perfect blending of science and sensoriality, products that make sure skin is so healthy and happy, it glows. Inside and out. That’s the reason for existing for whind. But its true magic comes from the new kind of brand we want to build. A brand anchored in warmth, unapologetic beauty and kindness inspired by our Arab values and attitude to beauty. It is unapologetically different and yet so authentic to its roots with sensoriality and warmth infused in every detail from packaging to formula to models etc
You previously told us you decided to focus on the UAE as the region to platform the brand – what is the reason behind this decision?
The brand is deeply inspired by Morocco and by extension of the Arab world, its beauty point of view built by me, an Arab woman who deeply believes it deserves recognition on the global stage. I decided to not do what every other global brand does – which is come to the region when the brand is built elsewhere because is not authentic to its DNA, vision and purpose. I built a brand that would resonate locally and I knew that consumers recognised themselves strongly in it. It was only right and true to start here. And within the UAE, I found the perfect launching pad – consumer desire, amazing infrastructure and great partners to do that with excellence.
Can you talk us through the hero products from the brand?
We are launching as we speak our day cream, our range hero. It is called Medina Dew Melting rosewater cream. It gives weightless yet long-lasting hydration for dewy, petal-soft skin. I love it because it’s the perfect embodiment of the whind evocatively potent skincare. Powered by science and inspired by Morocco.
One of the Moroccan (and the region) beauty staples is Rose Water. I grew up watching both my grandmothers distil it at home and women around me generously splash it on their skin all day long to refresh and soothe. I love that instant boost of freshness and Rose gorgeousness, but I find that it always fades quickly. So I imagined a splash of rose water that refreshes and hydrates but also last all day long (scientifically proven to instantly boost hydration by up to 173% and
deep hydration for up to 72 hours). A more modern, science-led reinvention of a timeless beauty ritual.
How does the UAE compare to the global industry as a whole?
I love that the region had an unapologetic beauty point of view, a positive, confident in its own definition of beauty. One that is uncompromising on results and experience. One anchored in rituals.
What is the philosophy you live by both personally and professionally?
Only those who dare to go too far can see how far they can go. I am a dreamer and I always felt I had that streak of curiosity and desire not to necessarily go the well-travelled paths, freedom to try and build something different and that difference can be better. When I read this quote the very first time more than 20 years ago, it was all the signal and validation I needed to carry on and carve my own way, even if it sometimes felt a bit scary.
Stay silly. What I mean by that is keep that inner lightness we are born with and the world tries to tame out of us. What makes us magical as children is that lightness, that ability to not take ourselves too seriously, the ability we tend to lose as we grow up, unfortunately. So I remind myself (and others around me) that a bit of lightness, humour is essential to keep not only living but also thriving. Personally, and professionally.
To date, what have been the biggest challenges you have had to overcome?
The Pandemic has been an unexpected challenged – both personally isolating me from my family and my home which are both key sources of balance and professionally as the brand was in its latest development stages and having to adapt to never seen before logistic complications. But we also learn from those.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what have been the key milestones?
Trusting the timing and meeting the right people at the right time. whind – as has been my career – is a story of the opportunities and people that you have to make sure you are open to recognize when you meet them. Maybe a tiny bit spiritual but I do believe in that.
This is ‘The Timelessness Issue’ – how would you define this?
Ancestral modernity. Anchored in authenticity, what you come from and heritage but open to the world, evolution and progress. Timelessness for me is to know where you come from to be better able to know where you are going. It’s continuous reinvention to remain relevant and connected to the time– whilst always protecting the core. For example, when I am back home in Morocco, I feel that I am in constant time travel, that the past and the future coexist in a magical state of familiarity and discovery.
This year we celebrate the UAE’s 50th Anniversary – what makes this region unique to you?
I am in awe of the pace of change and what has been built in the UAE. I was recently in Dubai and was lucky enough to view the opening ceremony and visit the expo. I was truly overwhelmed by the genuine scale of what the Emirati women and men have built and a deep sense of pride in what an Arab country has achieved. It represents timelessness in all its beauty – a seamless blend of ancestral modernity, anchored in its heritage and powering through towards a bright and exciting future.
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 is a perfect embodiment of the ambitions and achievements of women including Emirati women. Beyond a magazine, it has been a pioneer and a timeless lifestyle bible for women. A source of constant forward inspiration and aspiration. It has built a powerful vision of what women could aspire to be, sharing aspirational stories of women – Emirati, Arab and beyond –spotlighting women-led brands, business, visions and even more so being a connector through the community they have built. Happy anniversary Emirates Woman – congratulations on the 40 years of wonderful achievements so far which I am sure are only the warmup for what is to come.
November’s – ‘The Timelessness Issue’ – Download Now
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