From being a humble beauty blogger to becoming the founder of a billion worth beauty brand Huda Beauty, Huda Kattan has come a long way. Her brand is now one of the most recognisable names in the beauty industry. In a free-wheeling chat with IANSlife, the 36-year-old Iraqi-American gets candid how she balances her work and personal life, her journey in the industry, expansion plans and the role of social media in her success. Read excerpts from the interview.
Q) How has your life changed since you launched Huda Beauty in 2013?
As the business grows, we have to grow with it and that naturally comes with a lot of change both personally and professionally. We’ve always worked really hard and put everything into what we do but since it’s been almost seven years of working relentlessly towards our goals, but we’ve had to take a step back and start making time for ourselves again. We have finally reached a point where we have grown big enough to have a healthy team under us who enable us to let go of a lot of the odd jobs and hats we wore when we were a small family team running the company alone for so long. Work life balance is huge for us now to remain as passionate and hungry as we were from the start. I don’t ever want to lose that love and fire I have for the business. So we’re definitely changing things about the way we work to make sure we don’t!
Q) How easy or difficult was it for you to establish your brand?
I’ve never spoken to someone who has started a brand and them say to me “oh, it was easy!” If they did, they would be lying! As the founder of Huda Beauty, I’ve always had a huge vision and an endless passion for beauty but when I was getting started, I quickly realized the hardest part of it all is getting those around you to see your vision, to feel the passion you have and to believe in your dreams that you’re so convinced of! When we approached Sephora for the first time, they wanted nothing to do with us. All we wanted was an in-person meeting with them so we could let them feel our passion first-hand through a business pitch to work with them as our first retailer. We chased them endlessly until we got a response. After many, many attempts, we finally locked in the meeting where we officially pitched Huda Beauty and we left with a deal. Getting our first partner on board was incredibly difficult but it was a huge learning for us, and we haven’t looked back since!
Q) What role social media has played in your success?
We simply wouldn’t be where we are today without social media. It has been the platform for our success since the day we began. Through social media we’ve been able to create a truly meaningful community and to connect with them in a way other brands struggle to. We don’t talk AT our customer base; we use social media to talk with them. They are so crucial to our success that we will continue to treat our social media community as family for as long as we’re around.
Q) How do you see India as a market?
India is an incredible market for us! A lot of our social community comes from India and it’s proven to be a really successful market for our brand and products. The culture of makeup in India is much like that of the Middle East as women are continuing to use makeup as a means of creativity and expression, something we definitely stand for and encourage. We’re looking forward to continuing to grow our presence in India and are excited to see where we go.
Q) What are your expansion plans?
Right now, we’re most focused on continuing to drive strong brand awareness in our key markets. We have entered a few new markets recently as well, including South Korea, and we will continue to do so if there is a high demand for our product in-market. Beyond market growth, our business offering is growing too. We will always have our Huda Beauty color cosmetics line; we launched our first fragrance brand KAYALI last year and we have plans to launch skincare in 2020. We have a lot of incredible work happening in our offices around the world that we’re really excited to share with everyone over the course of the coming year.
Q) You attended the Vogue Women of the Year Awards; we are talking about women today. What message would you give to the women out there?
Don’t take no for an answer. Listen to yourself, trust your gut and go for it! If you tell yourself there are no limits, then none will stand in your way. Be good to yourself, stay positive, keep fighting and chasing for your dreams.