Powerhouse beauty blogger-turned-CEO Huda Kattan is taking over the Big Apple and global beauty world with her newly launched cosmetics line, Huda Beauty. With more than 26 million followers on Instagram and 2.3 million followers on YouTube, Kattan is one of the most influential players in the beauty space. The Huda Beauty line, complete with false lashes, lip gloss, liquid lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, foundation, and highlighters, has not only become the bestselling beauty brand at Sephora, but is a favorite amongst millennials.
We sat down with Kattan to chat about how she built her brand and turned her Instagram into a burgeoning beauty business.
You started your career as one of the first beauty bloggers in the Middle East, but what made you launch a cosmetics line?
HUDA KATTAN: I have always been obsessed with beauty, but never realized I could actually make a career out of it. I got into beauty at quite a young age and was fascinated by how a few simple tricks can transform your look, and the way you feel about yourself. I first started wearing false lashes as a teenager and have been wearing them every day since! They’re literally part of my daily beauty routine! Being a makeup artist and working on clients, I was never satisfied with the style and quality of lashes that were available at that time so I often ended up stacking and customizing the lashes myself to suit the client’s eye shape.
After receiving several enquiries about the lashes I had customized, my sister Mona suggested I start my own line which I then hand designed myself, and then later launched at Sephora in Dubai Mall in February 2013.
Did you always have a passion for beauty products growing up? Which product was your favorite?
HK: I developed a love for beauty when I was about nine years old. My older sister Alya was really into beauty and I was totally mesmerized by her when she applied her makeup. I have always been super hairy and tweezers were my first ever beauty tool and they literally changed my life! I was also obsessed with a Revlon lipstick in a deep brown-taupe shade—I literally wore it all the time!
What is your first memory of makeup?
HK: My first memory is watching my sister Alya do her makeup. She also taught me about using household ingredients as beauty products. I have really dark knees and knuckles, and Alya taught me how to lighten the skin using lemons!
Launching your line at Sephora, Huda Beauty is responsible for several number 1 SKU's on sephora.com and record breaking launches globally, coining Sephora's #1 lash brand. And over the launch period of your Highlighter Palette, 1 was sold every 6 seconds on shophudabeauty.com. How does it feel to be taking the beauty business by storm and what are your plans for next?
HK: It is pretty surreal and there have been a lot of ‘pinch me’ moments. We are expanding our makeup range and our territories, and are actually launching our first sister brand under the Huda Beauty umbrella later this year, which is super exciting! 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 so we can’t wait to bring those to market and see everyone’s responses!
Do you plan to open in more retailers in the big apple?
HK: We don’t have any immediate plans, but world domination is our goal so it’s definitely not off the table!
Is there a Huda Beauty store in the works?
HK: Not at the moment but never say never!
You were featured on the cover of Women's Wear Daily recently for your $200M brand, named as one of Forbes “Top 2017 Influencers in Beauty”, "Digital Innovator of the Year" by WWD, and one of Time's “Most Influential People On The Internet. What was it that set you apart from other beauty brands?
HK: As a brand, we are fun yet sophisticated, and we are always innovating! Any time we create a new product, we raise the bar and make sure that whatever we are creating will fill a gap in the industry. We want every product to serve a purpose; if there isn’t a need for something or there is already an amazing product available, then we won’t create a new one. I also take so much inspiration from the comments and requests we see on Instagram. I spend hours on Instagram every day, so I am super in tune with what our followers want to see from us. We have such an engaged following so we look to them a lot when it comes to developing new products.
I’m not motivated by money, so the bottom line doesn’t matter to me. I knew for a fact that when I was going to create a makeup line, that producing our products in Italy would be the ultimate goal, and that we’d create something really cult-worthy. Our buyers value quality over anything else so when it came to choosing a manufacturer, I knew it had to be Italy. European manufacturers, in my opinion, make some of the best products. They are so conscious of the ingredients that go into their products and I really appreciate that.
As an influencer, you never accepted a fee for a social post. Why was that important for you?
HK: Keeping the blog and social media completely unbiased and non-monetized is super important to me. It's really hard to stay unbiased once you start accepting paid posts. I've gotten some really outrageous offers and it gets hard to turn down, but I just never felt comfortable about it. For me, social media is and always will be purely a tool for me to share information, things that I love and connect with my followers.
Lastly, what’s your top beauty tip for our Gotham fashionistas?
HK: I love an untraditional beauty trick, so put some freshly squeezed Orange juice on a cotton pad, apply it all over your skin and then rinse it off. This will brighten up your skin instantly!