Huda Beauty: The multi-million cosmetics brand built on the internet
What started as a blog and a YouTube channel in 2010 has evolved into a $1.2 billion dollar empire. Huda Beauty, a cosmetics brand started by Iraqi-American businesswoman, entrepreneur and make-up artist Huda Kattan has taken over the world by storm these last few years and continues to be one of the leading brands for make-up. Huda Beauty has over 40.9 million followers on Instagram and over 3.78 million subscribers on YouTube, with social media influencers, make-up artists, and celebrities from all over the world using her products and raging about the brand. Kattan’s own net worth is $610 million, as of 2019 and was chosen as one of “The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet” by Time magazine in 2017, as well as listed as one of The Richest Self-Made Women and one of the Top Three Beauty Influencers by Forbes.
Huda Kattan is the middle daughter of Iraqi immigrants, born in Oklahoma, U.S., and raised in Cookeville, Tennessee. During Kattan’s childhood, she faced a lot of racism from a predominantly white and Christian town, which led her to turn to make-up for self-confidence from the age of 12. Struggling to find direction in life, Kattan majored in business and finance at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and took up a PR job in Dubai, U.A.E. after graduation. It did not take long for her to quit and pursue her passion as a make-up artist. She trained in L.A, but struggled to find clients in Dubai.
Kattan ended up starting a beauty blog titled Huda Beauty, in 2010. She did make-up tutorials and expert tips which led her to have a considerable presence on social media and YouTube, and even started making her own false eyelashes. Urged by her sisters, Kattan took a small loan from her sisters and launched her own line of synthetic and faux mink lashes through Sephora. They instantly blew up, selling out on the first day of the launch and received immense praise and love from celebrity Kim Kardashian West, which led to even more attention to her brand. Soon after, Huda Beauty which is based in Dubai itself, started manufacturing all kinds of cosmetics, from foundations, concealers, lipsticks, eyeshadows, setting powders, highlighters, and brushes; the estimate retail sales the first year of Huda Beauty was over $1.5 million and hit $10 million the next year.
By 2018, Huda Beauty was the top-selling cosmetics brand at Sephora in the Middle East and had acquired more than 900 stores across the U.S. including Sephora and J.C. Penny, as well as another 600 globally. Huda Beauty’s online presence only seems to grow, with the brand coming out with a line of skincare products and fragrances.
Huda Kattan wanted to create a brand to spread beauty, she believed big corporations were disconnected from their consumers and wanted to fix this issue. “I realized that my purpose really is to inspire people,” she explained to cnbc, “It has nothing to do with money, it has nothing to do with anything material. It’s really to prove to people that the little guy can make it.” Maybe with the internet’s help, the little guy can indeed make it.