With over 30 million followers on Instagram, a hugely successful make-up and beauty brand and friends including Eva Longoria and Kim Kardashian West, there is no denying Huda Kattan is one of the region’s most successful female entrepreneurs.
Kattan, who is of American and Iraqi heritage began her career as a make-up artist but soon became one of the first to embrace social media as a way of building a business. Kattan began sharing her beauty tips and tricks which soon led to sharing other people’s tips and as result landed her a huge social media following. It was through her Huda Beauty Instagram account that she discovered her followers’ demand for affordable and quality false eyelashes. And it was from this that her first product Huda Beauty Lashes was born.
In her unique approach to business Kattan connects and responds directly to her competitors. Whether it’s asking them for opinions on which products to add to her range, or re-posting videos they have sent her, and it is this approach that seems to be the secret to her success. While on the surface Kattan is still a social media star, who business is thriving, her products are often sold out and she has now taken her brand onto the international stage, with Huda Beauty selling in Europe and America. When it comes to being a female boss Kattan seems to have it down to a T. So we caught up with the Dubai-based entrepreneur to find out why she thinks she has been so successful and what’s next for the world of Huda Beauty.
You have had success on a huge scale – what do you think makes you different to others in the Middle East?
The fact that I have held a number of different roles in the beauty industry has certainly helped. I have been a blogger, I have created social content, I have worked as a make-up artist, I have worked with manufacturers to create products in the lab, and I am the face of a brand. My experience has allowed me to really appreciate and understand the beauty industry which has given me a competitive edge. But even more than that, I feel like Huda Beauty has a huge impact on people’s lives. We are a brand that really, really cares and that’s special. We get messages from people who are inspired to start their own brands, or that we gave them a shout-out on social media and they were able to be discovered and move into a new place. It’s small things like this that are our biggest motivator. It’s a purpose. This is the stuff that matters. There is a bigger goal than the bottom line.
What does the term women’s empowerment mean to you?
This is really important to me and the brand because everything we do is about showing women that they can literally do anything. We are a brand that is driven by a team of mostly women and we are proving every single day that the impossible is possible, and we are changing the face of the beauty industry. For me, female empowerment is showing women that they can do anything they want – and with enough purpose and passion, you can get there!
How do you think you and your brand are empowering women?
Huda Beauty is a brand that champions female empowerment and uniqueness – we show women that they can have it all, and we love being that role model. We have an amazing relationship with our social family and we love to support up and coming artists who are killing it. Our purpose from the very beginning was to be a place for people to learn about beauty and feel inspired, and that continues to be our mission. We want to give women the tools to be their most confident self and really break down barriers.
There is a close link between beauty and social media and it has of course been part of your career – what is your take on the future of this?
Social media is everything to us as the company was born out of it Social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so we’ll continue to grow at the same rate it does. 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. It wasn’t as though we were using social media platforms to leverage the brand – we grew alongside social media and are continuing to grow and evolve at the same rate. As a company, what we value most is product, content and social media – and those three things are inherently intertwined at Huda Beauty.
What is your advice to women who lack confidence?
This is something I have struggled with myself. I was always my own worst enemy wondering, “What are people going to think of me? Will they think I am crazy?” so I needed to work on that and become comfortable with myself – and it’s a real journey! I didn’t want to become a negative by-product of my own criticisms. Sometimes the “negative” things about your personality can be your genius so I had to learn to lean into those areas and accept every part of myself. It’s certainly been a challenge so I wish I had known to ignore my own criticisms and not focus on what other people thought of me – and that is probably my biggest piece of advice for anyone who struggles with the same problems.
What does beauty mean to you?
It’s innate, but sometimes people need to learn to feel beautiful, or to see beauty. Beauty comes from within and I believe everyone is born with it. Something as simple as smiling completely transforms you and those around you. When you feel beautiful, you become beautiful.
As a business woman what advice would you give to others?
Focus on the right things and surround yourself with the right people. Your surroundings are so important so spend your time with people who uplift and inspire you, and are constantly challenging you. It’s very easy to absorb the energy around you, so you need to make sure that energy is positive and upbeat.
If you weren’t doing what you are doing what would have been your Plan B career path?
I always say I would love to be Beyoncé. She is just so fierce. Is that allowed?
What can we expect to see from you in 2019?
We are expanding our make-up range and our territories, but ultimately, we are on a mission to change perceptions of beauty and make a difference to the face of the industry. The team has been working so hard on lots of amazing products that will be launching next year so we’re really focused on perfecting the formulas and creating products that will change the beauty world.
How would you like the world to remember you?
I hope the impact I leave on the world is that I made a difference to the beauty industry, for the better. And I want to be remembered for being a kind and thoughtful mum, daughter, sister and wife.