As part of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s new six-part mini-series, About Face, the model, actress and designer caught up with some of the biggest names in beauty. Think Emily Weiss, Kylie Jenner, PONY Syndrome, Jen Atkin, Sir John and, last but not least, Dubai’s very own Huda Kattan. And, don’t worry, Grazia is here to fill you in the intimate details of Huda’s interview, from her childhood all the way to the creation of her dynamic beauty empire, and the struggles and inspirations that came in between.
On her childhood, growing up in Tennessee, a southern state in America, Huda tells Rosie; “I just looked very different from everyone I was at school with. People would find reasons to say “You’re super weird” or just be really mean. I think being Middle Eastern and also being a Westerner made me feel like I was always an outsider. And I thought, at the time, I just needed to be appreciated by everyone else…”
Thankfully for us, like many thriving entrepreneurs, the trail-blazer was soon to learn she didn’t need other people’s approval: “A lot of the issues I’ve had have stemmed from my childhood: of never feeling good enough; of never feeling accepted. And now, I have a lot of love for myself. I’m not going to stress about how people feel; I don’t know what the world expects of me and I don’t care!”
Huda reveals her long-term relationship with makeup began at home, “My sister, who’s ten years older than me, inspired my love affair with beauty. She has these big eyes and she would put mascara all over her lashes… I just thought she was this exotic jewel! I used to steal her products, use them until they were empty and then put them back!”
She adds that makeup acted like therapy for her: “It was almost like a safe space. It made me feel like I was another person, and I felt so powerful because of it.”
When it came to breaking into the industry, however, it wasn’t so straightforward: “At first, honestly, no one wanted to pay me for makeup. So I was just assisting whatever makeup artist I could. At this one gig I was doing, I met someone on set and they were like, “Wow, your makeup is actually really good! Will you do a photoshoot for this Middle Eastern magazine?””
Having been refused both the photos from the shoot and any sort of payment for the job, Huda went ahead and did it anyway: “One thing led to another and I actually ended up becoming the makeup artist for Revlon, for the Middle East. I did that for a long time – I just started saying yes to everything – that was probably the biggest catalyst for my career.
Huda’s favourite highlighter of all time, N.Y.M.P.H
She elaborates, “My sister, Mona, was watching me cut and paste lashes together and she told me, “Huda, you really need to make these. That’s a money maker.” Mona found a manufacturer and i was like, “Wow, now i really need to do this!””
And the process wasn’t always as glamorous as it is now: “I took a picture of myself, a selfie. Boom, that became my packaging. It was so basic the way we did it. The epitome of scrappy. It’s kind of crazy the way it started.”
On building her billion-dollar platform, Huda adds, “We’re lucky cause we’re in Dubai and Dubai is super progressive… They love beauty here, so that’s great.”
But the entrepreneur admits she’s had to overcome many obstacles as a female business owner: “It is challenging as a woman. When I first started, people treated me constantly like it was a hobby, objectifying me, making me feel like I wasn’t capable of it. That was really hard.” She adds, “They would constantly make eye contact with my husband, being like “How do we do this?” and my husband would be like ‘Ask the big boss!'”
Giving us two girl-crushes for the price of one, Mona Kattan joins the women to discuss her role in the creation of Huda Beauty. As Rosie puts it, “It’s really striking how fundamentally important you’ve been all through her life, almost being the driving force behind her to see her own potential, her own talent.”
Characteristically loving, Huda gushes, “She gives me so much advice and I take all of it. I feel like Mona’s a visionary; she saw the opportunity for me to start my journey in makeup.”
Leaving us with the peak of woman-on-woman support, Mona explains, “I think when you see a strong, confident woman do what she loves doing it inspires you to do the same.”
Watch the trailer below; Grazia is ready to see you as the next big beauty boss.
Photos: Instagram and supplied