Huda Kattan credits her multi-million dollar beauty brand and new reality show to being authentic
This beauty means business.
Getting fired from her job as a financial recruiter was the best thing to happen to Huda Kattan, who was driven to start her own cosmetics empire after her bosses didn’t take her work seriously because she liked to look and dress her best. Now she’s a world-renowned makeup artist, beauty blogger and entrepreneur.
“My boss said to me a bunch of times, ‘Why are you here?’ Kattan, 34, told Moneyish recently while displaying her namesake eyeshadow palettes and shimmering lip glosses inside a hotel in New York City.
“Ultimately, I felt like he couldn’t take me seriously because I liked to wear makeup,” the Iraqi-American beauty guru continued, recalling her previous life working at the California-based consulting firm Robert Half International. “I always felt like because I liked to dress up, I had to work even harder — which is really frustrating, because I actually think I would have made an amazing recruiter.”
Kattan began her second career as a beauty blogger-turned-YouTube star, moving to Los Angeles to study makeup — and where she picked up high profile clients like Eva Longoria and Nicole Richie. She then moved to Dubai to work for Revlon. And in 2010, her sister Mona encouraged her to start blogging about the products she loved. Her love of makeup and beauty balms coupled with her upfront personality made her a natural in front of the camera. She became an instant internet sensation as a go-to for makeup tips, DIY-beauty product recipes like acne miracle masks, and scoring fashion finds.
The online success inspired her to launch her Dubai-based cosmetics line Huda Beauty in 2013, starting with a series of false eyelashes released internationally through Sephora, which were famously worn by Kim Kardashian.
She has racked up more than 25 million followers on Instagram who “like” her every makeup meme and beauty hack, and she can make a reported $18,000 per sponsored post. And now she’s starring in her own reality show, “Huda Boss” on Facebook Watch, where she gives viewers an even more unfiltered look at her life running a global cosmetics company.
She has continued disrupting the $445 billion beauty industry by expanding her beauty collection with eyeshadows, liquid lipsticks, lip liners, highlighter palettes and her bestselling FauxFilter Foundation (a nod to her Instagram fame), which she developed because of her difficulty finding the right makeup to match her olive skin tone. The line now includes 30 different shades that were matched to hundreds of people to ensure inclusivity. The FauxFilter launch was so successful, it sold out in 11 of the 30 shades at Sephora within three days.
“I still struggle with finding makeup that’s a good fit for me,” Kattan admitted. “When we were creating the foundation, it was such an emotional process because we couldn’t find benchmarks to work off of. It’s getting better, but it’s crazy to think that I’m a medium tone, but still can’t find a foundation to suit me.”
Last year, Kattan received a minority investment from the private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners, which has supported brands like It Cosmetics and Smashbox, to continue growing the company. The brand was expected to do $200 million in retail sales in 2017, according to Women’s Wear Daily. But when Kattan was first starting to monetize her brand, getting financial backing — particularly from male investors — was a challenge.
“I don’t think they get that it’s a business,” she said. “Quite frankly, I don’t care, because they’re not our audience, but that is a challenge: dealing with people who treat you like — because you’re a woman and maybe it’s not a conventional [career] — that it’s just a hobby. It’s very frustrating. We’ve built a really strong empire that does do a turnover of $100 of million in a year.”
The Dubai-based business woman, who has been called the “Kim Kardashian West of beauty influencers,” has also landed a spot on Time’s 25 Most Influential People on the Internet list in 2017 alongside Kardashian West, Chrissy Teigen and President Donald Trump. She was also named one of Forbes’ “10 Most Powerful Influencers in the World of Beauty” last year, and was awarded Digital Innovator of the Year by Women’s Wear Daily.
Despite her immense success, Kattan says it all feels surreal.
“I still don’t feel like I’ve made it. I feel like goals get bigger,” she said. “It’s important to celebrate your victories, but I just feel like I never want to be here admiring myself. I think ultimately we always have more and more goals.”
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