Businesswoman, beauty blogger, make-up mastermind and mother, at just 35 years old Huda Kattan has spearheaded a beauty empire which is arguably one of the biggest phenomena of the 21st Century – Huda Beauty.
To an outsider that knows little about the industry, Huda Beauty might seem like ‘just another make-up brand’ in an already saturated market, but to an aficionado, the brand has really changed the make-up game.
Six years on and it’s impossible to ignore the far-reaching impact Huda has made on the world. 140 products now fall under the Huda Beauty name, the business is valued at $1 billion, the collection is available in 1500 stores globally and boasts an Instagram following of 31.2 million.
Behind every brand is an entrepreneurial mind and unbeknown to a 12-year-old Kattan, hers was already making inroads in this business venture before she even reached adulthood.
Kattan’s parents are Iraqi immigrants who moved to Oklahoma in search of a better and safer environment to raise a family. However, growing up in a predominately white, Baptist community, it meant Kattan, who is their middle daughter, faced bullying and self-confidence issues as a result of her family’s heritage.
“If I do something I’m not passionate about, how am I going to impact the world? And if I am not changing the world in some way then what the hell am I doing?” – Huda Kattan
Internalising the issue as many children do, she found solace in cosmetics and started experimenting with heavy make-up looks in her bedroom from just 12 years old. It was here that the foundations for what was to come were laid.
As she matured, Kattan used her experiences of bullying to fuel her fire and motivate her next move and while make-up was still a passion that bubbled under the surface, further education and a degree took priority.
“Kids used to tell me I was weird all the time. When I got older, I wanted to embrace my name and I put it on everything. And I also wanted to embrace being weird” she said, speaking to Forbes.
After three years studying at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Kattan majored in business and accepted a job with a big name in consultancy – Robert Half. Working for the firm’s Middle East Headquarters, Kattan moved to Dubai with husband Christopher Goncalo and later gave birth to their daughter Nour Giselle.
Growing tired of working in finance and looking for a change in direction that she exited Robert Half for the last time and turned up the heat on her make-up endeavours.
Training as a make-up artist in Los Angeles, garnering an all-star clientele and working as a makeup artist for Revlon in Dubai all followed. But few could deny that Kattan was born to be a boss and she turned to blogging to get her name out there. This is where Huda Beauty started its journey.
As a rising beauty influencer, her social was initially just a platform for Kattan to showcase make-up tutorials and draw in new clients in Dubai, quickly turned into a huge hit with fans and nine years on Huda Beauty remains the most read beauty blog on the whole of the internet.
Something that became clear to Kattan during this venture was her innate ability to understand what people wanted from the beauty industry. So, when she noticed a gap in the market for premium false eyelashes, she soon found that she wasn’t just voicing her own needs, she was voicing the needs of many other women.
With a $6,000 loan from her sister Alya and $10,000 in personal savings for packaging, Kattan set about establishing her own range of faux mink lashes which were manufactured in Indonesia. This was the springboard that saw Huda Beauty become the 140-product line brand it is today.
The lashes were already selling well – in fact, they sold out in their first day – but were given an extra boost when the queen of contour herself, Kim Kardashian, voiced her love of the brand to her tens of millions of followers. By the first year’s end, Huda saw sales hit 1.5 million and by the next they rocketed some 666% totalling sales of 10 million.
Kattan who is now worth an estimated $550 million became a fully-fledged business mogul, which she wholeheartedly embraces.
She says: “It feels really powerful to be able to embrace being a woman in the Middle East who’s not afraid to go into a boardroom and tell a room of men how it is.”
Kattan and her two co-founder sisters both of whom hold smaller stakes in the brand, expanded Huda Beauty one knock-out product at a time. And, as Instagram exploded and evolved, it became an ever-crucial platform for Huda Beauty to spread its wings, promote new product ranges and enhance the wide-reaching scale of the Huda name. To this day the brand’s account has 32.4 million followers and is updated with new content daily.
True reflection of the brand’s growth, significance and impact, came in 2017 when TSG Consumer Partners, best-known for their investment in Smashbox, invested in Huda Beauty.
With new investment in tow, 2018 followed suit and flourished into another year of significant growth for Huda Beauty. At the beginning of 2018 Huda was available in 200 stores outside of the U.S, by the end they had soared to 600 with another 900 stores in the U.S alone.
Few beauty brands would dare to dream about going head-to-head with industry heavyweights like L’Oréal which holds a global worth of £23bn or Estee Lauder and their $48.16 billion.
But, as Kattan says herself: "Nowadays, you're only limited by your dreams. We think big and we dream big […] why can’t we be the next ESTEE Lauder of our time.
“We’re working our butts off and the team is working their butts off, but I feel like it’s bigger than just makeup.”
So, while we wait for the next exciting venture from the Kattan clan, one thing for sure is that with a businesswoman like Kattan driving it forward Huda Beauty is a name that will live long in the beauty industry.
If you would like to collaborate with the likes of Huda then why not contact our team today? With access to the industry’s biggest beauty influencers, we can create the perfect partnership to grow your business. Either call us today on 0203 9580 427 or alternatively email [email protected]