If you haven’t yet heard of Huda Kattan, I can guarantee you’re about to.
Named one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Internet by TIME Magazine and Digital Innovator of the Year by Women’s Wear Daily, Huda Kattan is a beauty influencer and entrepreneur par excellence, an Estée Lauder or Helena Rubinstein for the Instagram generation.
The high-gloss, colourful beauty blog she started in 2010 made such waves among makeup artists and beauty junkies that three short years later, Kattan launched her own cosmetics line, Huda Beauty. The business (which initially just sold a range of false eyelashes) is today worth over a billion dollars, and is one of the fastest growing beauty brands in the world.
Huda Beauty is now the number one beauty Instagram account in the world with over 25 million followers, and is currently ranked the 66th most followed account on Instagram.
Pretty impressive for a brand that’s yet to stock a concealer or a mascara.
Wondering how she did it? Well, thanks to a new reality series - Huda Boss - which premiered on Facebook Watch last week, Huda fans can get a unique insight into the inner workings of the Dubai-based beauty behemoth, which Kattan runs alongside her husband Chris Goncalo, and sisters Mona and Alya Kattan.
From photo shoots and product development sessions to Dubai parties and family friction, the ten-episode series gives a behind-the-scenes look at Kattan's life at the helm of a billion-dollar brand. She and her family are full-lipped, fully lippy and a whole lot of fun. Imagine the Kardashians in Dubai, with (even) more lip gloss. Yup, it’s addictive stuff.
We caught up with Huda Kattan to find out a bit more about her story and her new reality TV show:
What inspired you to start your brand?
My sister Mona and I were always into entrepreneurship; it started at a very young age when we were selling lemonade outside our house. Back when I became a makeup artist, false lashes were not really a big thing. I loved using them on my clients because lashes help open and lift the eye and look great on camera. I’d always create my own styles by stacking and shaving false lashes together, and my clients loved them! The demand grew for these lashes, and after several enquiries, Mona had the idea to create our own lashes. Beauty has always been my biggest love, and it just felt right to start our own brand
Tell me how the idea for a TV show came about? Did Facebook approach you?
We always wanted to find a platform that would help us tell our story in the most raw, natural way possible. Over the course of the last 2-3 years, we’ve been approached by several networks to launch a reality show. Facebook approached us and it just felt like the perfect fit. Being such a social media driven brand, we wanted a platform that would let people from all over the world tune in and watch the latest episode
Were you worried about the intrusion into your lives?
Of course! But we really wanted to find a way to share more of our lives with everyone and be as real as possible. We wanted to tell our story, and hopefully inspire those watching the show, but also show a less glamorous side of our lives and business.
What was the hardest aspect of filming the show?
The hardest part, besides the constant filming, was letting people into our lives and showing them a completely unfiltered version of what actually happens behind the scenes. Social media tends to only show the perfect, happy moments – and we wanted this to be as raw as possible. Another aspect was the constant filming! Weekdays, weekends, throughout the day; it was literally nonstop.
Have you always loved being on camera?
Being on camera and shooting tutorials for the past few years, has really helped me feel comfortable. I would say it’s the same for the rest of my family. Whether it’s Snapchat, Instagram, shooting family videos or doing shoots – we’re all pretty used to being on camera. I guess what was unexpected was not being also to ‘switch off’ the cameras at any point.
You have a very loyal following. What’s the most extreme thing one of your followers has done?
We have the most amazing social media family! There have been several extreme things, whether it’s flying across the world to make one of my personal appearances, or send the most gorgeous, personalized gifts. We really do appreciate them so much!
How do you run a global business but keep your voice very personal?
I think that’s always been at the core of our brand DNA to keep it real and always be personal. The reason why I named our brand ‘Huda Beauty’, was because I wanted people to know it’s me behind the brand. I started off as a beauty blogger and being everyone’s Big Beauty Sister – and I never want that to change.
What is the one item of makeup you couldn’t live without?
It has to be our Huda Beauty Lip Contour in Trendsetter!
Whose makeup would you most like to do?
I know this is super unexpected, but I’d love to do Cardi B’s makeup!
You work with your husband and sisters, does it ever get claustrophobic?
I don’t know if claustrophobic is the right word to use, but it definitely does get interesting. I think it helps that we all have very separate functions within the business, so there’s not a lot of overlap. We do also try to not talk about work when we’re at home, which also helps to give things a break.
Do you think approaches to beauty are different in Dubai than in England?
Definitely! But I’m also starting to see a lot of similarities. Beauty in Dubai is very glam – it’s normal to step out the house with a full face of makeup on; contour, highlighter, brows, lips and lashes. I feel that Instagram has really helped to break down borders when it comes to beauty and made beauty and makeup more universal. People are more open to experimenting and trying different things based on what they see on their social feed.
You employ 150 people now. What do you look for in your employees?
We have this internal thing where we call someone ‘Huda Beauty material’ if they start working with us. I’ve never been one to obsess over education or past experience, although both these aspects are great, but I’m more interested in the person and what drives them. Most of our team members are mini CEOs; they take ownership and treat the company like it’s their own - and that’s what I look for in an employee.
What does the future hold for Huda?
There’s so much coming – I can’t wait to share it all with you guys! For now we’re working on our global expansion, and opening offices outside of Dubai, which is going to be huge for the brand.
The second episode of HUDA Boss airs on Facebook Watch on Tuesday 19th June. Check it out here