A couple of years ago, as we were all recovering from the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new beauty brand appeared on the scene in the Middle East.
With a refreshing appearance and an interesting offering of products, Whind quickly caught the attention of women looking for something to bring joy into their lives after a tough period. Hind Sebti, founder of Whind was born in Morocco and had always dreamt of sharing the unique culture and ingredients of her home country with the world and capturing the mood of the golden hour of Morocco through the collection of skincare and fragrance products. After many years of research and delving into the origins, ingredients and craftsmanship of her home country, while combining this with the latest innovations in science, Sebti launched Whind, the first luxury skincare brand to be born in the Middle East and created by an Arab woman combining science, sustainability and natural ingredients. Whind’s skincare offering was born out of science and rituals, and is powered by a unique ‘chemistry of glow’ that recreates that golden hour feeling that has become synonymous with beauty.
Earlier this year Whind introduced its first fragrance line; the Whind Elixir Fragrance Collection. This fine fragrance offering captures and bottles the mystery, sensuality and elegance of Morocco with a series of scents that introduce new ways of combining traditional ingredients and bringing nature and science together as one. Now as she prepares to take her brand outside of the Middle East, we find out more about what makes Whind unique, and why it has the potential to be one of the region’s greatest beauty success stories.
Tell us about the story of Whind and how it came about.
I first dreamt of a brand that would shake up the mono-dimensional world of beauty where our consumer seems to always face a trade-off between high-performance products, but with relatively unimaginative experience OR a sensorial experience, but without effective visible results. What I and many consumers like me wanted is skincare that does not compromise on performance or experience. So I created products that are as efficacious as they are enjoyable, powered with what I called the “chemistry of glow” that fuses high-performance actives in divinely sensorial textures and evocative scents. In doing so, I was bringing the best of the science I learned in my 20 years as a beauty executive and the essence of indulgent rituals and natural ingredients inspired by my home of Morocco.
But beyond products, the true inspiration behind Whind is to expand the way the world sees beauty and to spotlight our uniquely rich and warm Arab beauty heritage, something that deserves visibility on the global stage. This is true diversity, this is representation. And what drives me in building the house of Whind. Skincare was the first step of the brand and I am beyond excited to step in and shake up the wonderful world of fragrance with our Elixir Fragrance collection.
When it comes to beauty and fragrance what are the values that you find important to highlight through your own brand?
Whind was created to bring a warm, positive and optimistic view of beauty to the world. So at the heart of the brand is inclusivity and representation of our rich Arab culture, products that deliver on performance and delight our community with an inside and out glow whilst also being kinder to the planet.
Tell us about how your heritage has influenced your brand.
My Moroccan and Arab heritage shaped how I see beauty – warm, joyful and unapologetically celebrated. So I wanted to create a brand that reflects those values, with beautiful, warm objects, a nod to our world-renowned craftsmanship and decadent textures and scents inspired by celebrated local ingredients such as amber, rose water or orange blossom water and rituals that are as efficacious as transportive. Whind is all about the beauty of the golden hour, bottled. A glow that radiates inside and out and is a cornerstone of our beauty point of view.
We love the new Elixir Fragrance collection what can you tell us about that?
At Whind, we believe that beauty is first and foremost an emotion. And nothing expresses emotion like fragrance. A fragrance can instantly transport someone to a place or a moment in time. Our inspiration is our home of Morocco, a country famed for its unique seduction of the senses and its intoxicating scents. It was a very natural step to venture into fragrances. Over the years, many fragrance houses have presented their interpretations of what Morocco smells like, but there has never been a Moroccan Arab woman who told the authentic story of their beloved country from the inside out. And I wanted to take on that role and bring a world-first look at the wonderful scent stories of my beautiful country.
Fragrance is an art so I couldn’t do it by myself. I was extremely lucky to partner with two fragrance artists, Roger Schmid and Jerome Epinette who transformed my stories, memories and emotions into uniquely magical scents. We called it Elixir because we felt they were much more than fine fragrances but an intoxicating collection that bottles the mystery, sensuality and elegance of Morocco. A deeply sensorial and sensual experience that transports you, and makes you feel.
What does success mean to you?
Success is very personal. To me, it means freedom – to work and build something I am passionate about, with people I love in the set-up I need to be most effective and happy.
What can you tell us about Whind in the Middle East?
Whind is proudly an Arab-born brand, so it was very important for me to launch the brand first in the region and build a local success that I could take globally and flip the narrative of brands only coming to the region once they have first served consumers in the West. It was a business strategy and even more so a personal belief and desire to walk the talk and I have been so humbled by the amazing success that the region gave to whind, perhaps for the first time a brand that looks like us and speaks to us and that spotlights our rich culture and excellence in beauty.
What is your plan for the brand moving forward?
The plan is to continue listening to our amazing community who sees Whind as more than a beauty brand but a lifestyle one; they have asked for 2 things – bring in-store so they can experience it in real life so we are expanding into stores as we speak all over the region and to expand into new categories like fragrances – which we have done – and body which will be coming soon.
What do you think is the secret to sustaining a business in today’s market?
Being constantly in touch with the market and consumer and having the ability to adapt and do so quickly.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced with the brand and how did you overcome them?
When building a brand to be successful, you need to have a point of view. And to be able to accept that there are people who will love it and others who don’t. The challenge is of course to be in touch and listen to feedback, but also keep in mind the reason for starting the brand in the first place. This is a general challenge when building brands, but specifically around whind I think the biggest challenge was to launch during the tail end of the COVID pandemic and to make the decision to launch exclusively online and wait for the retail landscape to settle before expanding – this was especially challenging for a brand like Whind which is built on experience, so we had to find new ways to immerse our community in our universe digitally, which was also a challenge in itself. I am glad we took on these challenges because we have learnt a lot, and now that we are both in stores and online, we are in a great position for a seamless omnichannel experience.
What do you think makes your brand unique in the industry today?
Whind is the first luxury Arab-born beauty brand that spotlights globally the unique beauty point of view, rituals and storytelling of our rich culture with a modern and relevant twist.
Tell us about some of the ingredients and unique combinations you use in your products.
Our skincare is designed to deliver superior performance in a delightful experience of texture and scent. It is powered by what I like to call the “chemistry of glow”; highly effective proven actives such as Niacinamide, Ceramides and Vitamin C that are blended with powerful ingredients native to our ancestral Moroccan rituals such as Argan Oil, Rhassoul Clay or Orange Blossom Water. A perfect marriage of old-time tested and new trending ingredients. For skin so healthy and happy it glows.
For our fragrances, we chose ingredients that help tell rich, sensual and warm stories that are a tribute to Morocco, its elegance, sensuality and mystery through beloved scents like Rose, Orange Blossom Tangerine and Oud. Ingredients that happily and sensually blend with other more exotic ingredients brought through by the mythical caravans of the silk road like Kashmiri Saffron or Somali Incense to quote a few.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt throughout your career?
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Always ask.
What is the professional motto that you live by?
Only those that dare to go too far can see how far they can go.
Talk us through your morning beauty ritual.
After a shower, I use Whind Oasis Fresh Jelly Cleanser on my damp face. Its delicious orange blossom jelly texture melts immediately to a milk that rinses off quickly, leaving my skin clean and nourished and my spirit awakened. I follow it with a spray of Oasis Veil Serum Mist for a shot of hydration and vitamin C, before layering Oasis Bright Vitamin C Serum which packs a punch of super brightening ingredients that even your skin and protect against further damage.
I top this with my absolute hero Marrakech Rich Ultimate Cream, literally, the product I can’t live without, its’ delicious whipped texture hugs my skin in nourishment and makes it visibly glowing. My last step is always a few drops of Ourika Sun Tinting Water for a natural tan and a quick swipe of Marrakech Light Illuminating Oil as a highlighter on my cheeks and lips. Once my skincare is done, I apply my favourite Blush and Bronzer – either Milk Make Up Blush Sticks or Bronzer (I have them in all colours and adore mixing and matching depending on the mood of the day).
What else are you currently working on and what’s in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
We are already working on our fragrance line extensions and a super exciting body care launch.