Huda Kattan is the Woman Behind a Billion-Dollar Beauty Empire
Beauty

Huda Kattan is the Woman Behind a Billion-Dollar Beauty Empire

She has 27.1 million followers on Instagram, an estimated net worth of more than $756 million and owns a billion-dollar beauty empire. There’s no doubt 34-year-old Huda Kattan has made it big, and as she tells us in this exclusive interview, she’s not about to slow down anytime soon
Reading time 10 minutes

Kylie Jenner isn’t the only one who’s made her fortune selling makeup. Beauty-blogger-turned-beauty-boss Huda Kattan is also on the Forbes list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women this year for her eponymous billion-dollar cosmetics brand. The US-born, Dubai-based beauty mogul gained popularity doing makeup tutorials online, then founded Huda Beauty with her two sisters in 2013. Starting out with false eyelashes (that were a huge hit and famously worn by Kim Kardashian), the brand now offers liquid lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, foundation and more.

Today, Huda Beauty is the top-selling cosmetics brand in Sephora in the Middle East and is set to be in more than 900 stores in the US and 600 globally by the end of 2018. Ahead of the much-anticipated Singapore launch in Sephora stores this month, we caught up with Kattan for an exclusive interview.

We’re excited that Huda Beauty is finally available in Singapore. What took so long?

We have known for a while now that we wanted to launch into Singapore, but we needed to do it right. We would have launched a long time ago if we could as we saw that a huge portion of sales on our website were coming from Singapore. But we are still a small company and we use relatively small manufacturers in Italy, so we had to make sure we had enough product to launch properly and meet demand.

Tell us a bit more about how you went from being a makeup artist and blogger to the boss of your own beauty brand.

My sisters Mona and Alya really helped me out so much in launching the brand. I couldn’t have it done without them! I had been working as a makeup artist – after leaving my super corporate job in the financial industry – and I was always frustrated because I could never find the perfect lash! I used to create my own lashes by customizing, shaving and stacking them together and people would always ask me where I got them from.

It was Mona who suggested I start the Huda Beauty blog in 2010 and then raised the idea of selling false eyelashes under the Huda Beauty brand in 2012. My older sister Alya was actually the initial investor; she invested USD$6,500 for our first batch of products. We really struggled to find a distributor at first but eventually Sephora Dubai Mall agreed to stock our lashes. Today, I run the business with Mona who is our global president and Alya, our chief Instagram officer. My husband Chris is also part of the business, managing business development, operations and logistics, so we are truly a family-owned and operated brand.

 

What is it like working with family?

Working with family is challenging. With sisters you don’t have boundaries or a level of poise that you have with anyone else, and we disagree all the time! We definitely cross the line sometimes. Luckily, we have so much respect for one another and we have a really big vision for the brand, so we are good at putting our issues aside. It helps that we all have very separate functions within the business, so there’s not a lot of overlap.

How does it feel being on the Forbes list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women this year?

It is honestly so humbling, and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me along the way and helped me get there! It’s definitely been one of those ‘pinch-me’ moments!

There are a few other Instagram makeup moguls like yourself also new to the list this year like Anastasia Soare and Kylie Jenner. What do you think about that?

I think it’s incredible that so many women in the beauty industry are making such a huge mark! It is really amazing to be included on the list with so many women who are shaking up the industry and setting the bar very high for other beauty brands.

What does it mean to you to not only have your name but also your face on your products?
It really makes the brand super personal and that connection is such an important part of our brand DNA.

"I named our brand Huda Beauty because I wanted people to know it’s me behind the brand. I started off as a beauty blogger and being everyone’s Big Beauty Sister and I never want that to change." 

You have a huge social media following. Have your followers influenced the products you create? 

Absolutely! Huda Beauty was created after our social family asked us to sell our false lashes, so the entire company was created as a result of consumer demand and the need we saw on social media. I am constantly inspired by the comments and requests we see on Instagram. When it comes to creating new products, we always consider what our social family is asking for. For example, when we were developing the #FauxFilter Foundation, I reached out to our Instagram audience because I wanted to understand what kind of coverage they wanted, what finish they wanted and how they chose foundation. We had thousands of responses that helped guide us. They also helped with naming the foundation, so our community truly helps with the creation of Huda Beauty products – more than they probably realise.

What do you think customers love most about Huda Beauty?

We are a fun brand that is still really sophisticated and super innovative. Our values have never changed, and we genuinely use our platforms to share our love for beauty and support other artists. I always try to be as real as possible on social media and pride myself on supporting brands I love and truly believe in. We try to make beauty fun and easily accessible, which is why we create so many funny memes, skits and challenges, and our audience really loves it. We never create anything unless we recognise that there is a need for it. Because our social family is so engaging, we are very skilled at identifying a ‘gap’ in the market and creating products that fill that void.

 

"I am constantly inspired by the comments and requests we see on Instagram. Our community truly helps with the creation of Huda Beauty products — more than they probably realise." Huda Kattan

What has been the most difficult product to make so far?

Every launch is a huge challenge. It is so hard, especially as a small brand. But I would say that our concealer has been particularly challenging. It hasn’t launched yet but the process has been really tricky, as we had to change the formula a few times before we got it perfect. We thought we nailed the formula but it began oxidising and turning orange so we had to jump on a plane to Italy for a few days and adjust the formula. It’s been a real struggle but we’re in a good place now!

When are you launching your new concealer and what else can we look forward to?

We don’t have a launch date yet but stay tuned to our Instagram (@hudabeauty) for the latest news!

"People say “the sky is the limit” but that isn’t true – you can go as far as you want to."

Huda Kattan

If you had to choose three beauty products you can’t live without, what would they be?

I always have my Huda Beauty Lip Contour Pencil in Trendsetter – it is my ride or die product and I never leave the house without it! Benefit ka-BROW is another must-have for me — I use it every single day! Shade number three and four are my absolute go-tos. I also swear by Mario Badescu skincare products and have at least two sets of everything — one for the office and one for home. The Drying Lotion is amazing for treating acne, and I recommend this to anyone who struggles with breakouts. I apply it at night and it really dries out the spot overnight!

Will you branch out into more than makeup?

It is a really exciting time for us because we are actually launching a new brand under the Huda Beauty umbrella later this year. It is a fragrance brand with its own identity, completely separate from Huda Beauty. My sister Mona is obsessed with perfumes – she actually has an entire room in her house dedicated to perfume! So it only made sense that we branched into fragrance eventually.

You’ve said you want Huda Beauty to be the no. 1 beauty brand in the world. How are you going to make that happen?

People say “the sky is the limit” but that isn’t true – you can go as far as you want to, and I remind myself of this every single day. We have a huge vision for the brand and nothing is going to stop us from getting there. Anything is possible when you think limitlessly.

Huda Beauty is now available exclusively on sephora.sg and Sephora ION, Ngee Ann City, Vivocity and Westgate. Check out the products we recommend here.

related posts

Recommended posts for you