Huda Kattan’s journey from a beauty YouTuber to the founder of a billion-dollar cosmetics brand, Huda Beauty, is an urban tale of resilience, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit. Born out of Kattan’s genuine love for makeup and desire to revolutionize the beauty industry for women of color, the brand has grown to become a global sensation. In our article, we take you through the story of this Arab queen who has girl-bossed the internet and the industry alike.
Huda’s Humble Beginnings
Born in Oklahoma and raised in Tennessee, Huda Kattan’s family, who immigrated from Iraq, faced financial struggles while she was growing up. In 2008, armed with a finance degree from the University of Michigan, Huda moved to Dubai to be with her family. Initially working in recruiting, she found herself jobless a year later due to the recession. This unexpected setback became an opportunity for Huda to reassess her path.
Embracing her childhood love for makeup, she enrolled in a makeup school in Los Angeles. Huda’s official foray into the digital world of beauty content started in April 2010 when she launched a beauty blog and a YouTube channel, both named “Huda Beauty.” Her content, ranging from makeup techniques to skincare routines, quickly gained popularity in the Middle East.
Huda’s Growth on Social Media
At first, the Huda Beauty blog and social media didn’t do so well, especially outside of Dubai where it initially became popular. But after about a year, things started picking up. To promote the blog, Huda Kattan used cheap Facebook ads, spending just $5 at a time, and paid for them with her credit card, hoping it would pay off in the near future.
As time went on, more people from different parts of the world started noticing it. To keep the momentum, Huda set small goals. The first goal was to become the biggest beauty blogger in the Middle East. These little achievements helped her stay excited, especially when things were tough at the beginning.
For her, Huda Beauty has never been just a brand; it’s a community built around the idea of making beauty accessible and comfortable for everyone. Kattan’s vision was to change the perception of beauty, making it more attainable and warm. Huda’s social media presence, with over 50 million followers, reflects the success of this approach. In 2017, Huda was named one of “The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet” by Time, marking her girl boss era.
Launch of Huda Beauty
Despite financial uncertainties and no full-time job, Huda Kattan, along with her sisters Mona and Alya, put in $6,000 to launch a false eyelash line. The entrepreneurial spirit clearly runs in the family, with her sisters playing a crucial role in the early success of the brand. The initial $6,000 investment was actually from her sister Alya and it paved the way for their first success.
The gamble paid off when Sephora Dubai sold all 7,000 units within a week. This success prompted Huda Beauty to expand globally, with the U.S. launch executed in 2015. Early endorsements from the Kardashian sisters provided a significant boost to the brand’s visibility. The success of these lashes marked the beginning of Huda Beauty’s ascent in the beauty industry. In 2017, the brand secured a minority investment from TSG Consumer Partners, valuing the company at $1.25 billion.
Determined to pursue her passion, Kattan transformed her beauty blog into a billion-dollar brand. Her setback of losing a job during the recession became the catalyst for her success, as she embraced the discomfort and pursued a career she loved.
Huda Beauty’s Commercial Success
Huda Beauty’s product range has since expanded to include over 140 items, from lipsticks and contour palettes to eyeshadows and brushes. The brand’s internet-based success, generating over $200 million in annual revenue by 2018, reflects a broader shift towards e-commerce in the beauty market.
As of 2020, Huda Kattan’s net worth stands at $510 million, and Huda Beauty continues to thrive with an estimated annual sales of at least $250 million. The brand remains at the forefront of innovation, launching a new makeup collection called GloWish, a skincare line called Wishful, and a fragrance line called Kayali. Kattan, despite briefly stepping down as CEO, continues to lead the brand, staying true to the ethos of providing confidence through beauty.
Huda: A True Influencer
Huda Kattan’s influence extends beyond business, with awards such as the Digital Innovator of the Year and Best False Lashes contributing to her status as one of the most influential figures online. Her inclusion in Forbes’ list of The Richest Self-Made Women and Top Three Beauty Influencers solidifies her impact on the beauty industry.
Kattan has always emphasized the importance of patience, setting small goals, and embracing discomfort. Her layoff from a recruiting job turned out to be a pivotal moment, pushing her to focus on what truly fueled her passion for makeup and beauty. In conclusion, Huda Beauty’s story is not about makeup. It’s about following your dreams, regardless of what life throws your way. Today, with over 54 million Instagram followers and more than 4 million YouTube subscribers, Huda Kattan is one of the most influential Arab women in the world. From a small blog to a global beauty empire, her journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs to dream big to achieve bigger.