Huda Changes The Game
I think I may have been living under a rock for the past few years.
It seems as though everyone but me has taken notice of the Iraqi makeup artist, influencer, and beauty brand owner, Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty.
To add insult to injury, Huda was named number one on the 2017 Instagram Influencer Rich List, has been listed in Forbes as one of 2017 most successful beauty blogger and entrepreneurs, and she is on the list of TIME Magazine’s most influential people.
Upon discovering this information, I began questioning Huda’s impact on the beauty industry and how someone with a specific skill set or talent and some social media knowledge could replicate her branding strategy.
All signs pointed to the foundation of Huda Beauty. The successful beauty brand that she built from the ground up. Huda continues to work with it to ensure its authenticity and relevance in the beauty space.
Keep reading to see what you can take away from Huda Kattan’s rise to success. And learn how you can use her journey as a blueprint to jump start your brand.
Steps and Takeaways for Success
Step #1 Discover Your Interests
Before Huda Kattan was an international influencer, she was a student.
Huda was able to create her brand when she discovered her niche! Before her commitment to the craft of makeup artistry, Huda thought makeup and beauty would be her hobbies.
She obsessed with beauty and makeup hacks and do make up for her older sister and her friends. When you ask her to detail her favorite area of beauty, she always says brow arching.
Huda would love to arch the eyebrows of everyone around her with her $3 Tweezers. She loved the way the brow shaped the face. And, also, how that look could change with a flick of the wrist! She had a specialty.
It wasn’t until she graduated and was laid off from a job in finance that Huda decided to move to one of the largest makeup capitals in the United States, Los Angeles.
It was there that she decided to take her passion for makeup to a professional level. Kattan chose to become a student of the Hollywood makeup industry. She elected to study at the Joe Blasco makeup school because Joe Blasco was a makeup pioneer.
Joe Blasco was:
- The first make-up artist to create government-approved centers for professional make-up artist training.
- First make-up artist chemist to refine and produce make-up for low-light photography and high-resolution film and TV processes.
- The first professional make-up manufacturer to fully implement cruelty-free products.
Kattan wanted to ensure that she learned from the best. So, she took her time to research all of the makeup and beauty related programs in L.A. She wanted to know what they offered before making her decisions based on credentials and the right fit for her.
The fact that Joe Blasco was able to provide training for aspiring makeup artists aligned with her goals. This empowered her to create something more significant than a name as a celebrity makeup artist.
If you are interested in starting your brand, whether it be in beauty, technology, or entertainment, be sure that you are seeking out the best training to hone your craft.
Take your natural talent or hobby and refine it so that you can make it into a viable product or service.
Step #2 Build the Foundation
Huda’s success comes from a lot of hard work. We know her current blog site to be the multi-faceted beauty based media company that it is today, but she has come a long way.
She initially shared her beauty tips and tricks in 2004 via email blasts to friends and family while in college. Although she was not too clear on the concept of blogging, her emails were essentially in blog format and had catchy titles like:
‘Hey guys, these are the top trends to follow now.’
Years later, after finishing her studies in makeup school in 2009, Huda decided to move with her husband to Dubai.
Now, if you were to look at the pictures and blog posts at this time in her life and focusing on the event recaps and sponsored content, you could jump to conclusions about Huda’s struggle and journey to success.
Attending and covering fabulous parties sounds like a pretty lucrative job. Kattan moved to a place that is considered the pinnacle of luxury and innately beautiful.
Her Iraqi ethnicity gives her a striking resemblance to that of a Kardashian, and in this age of instant gratification and the illusion of social media, it would be very easy for us to think that she took off running with Huda Beauty as soon as she made it to Dubai. We would be wrong.
Huda did not have stable employment after graduating from makeup school in the US. In fact, it would be a couple of years before she landed a gig with Revlon as a makeup artist.
All of this was long before her quest to make her blog into a brand. Due to her openness about her struggles, Kattan says that she would keep busy and build her makeup portfolio by doing her friend’s makeup, going to beauty events, and blogging about the makeup sessions and events afterward.
- Wake up at 5 am.
- Start doing makeup at 6a.
- Work at and Event until 4/5pm.
- Come home and blog about the entire day.
She treated this cycle like a daily schedule for two months without any days off and gained a lot of unique visitors to her blog; some of those visitors included brands that she was able to partner with to garner even more exposure.
Do the work. Kattan worked on her brand every single day. Sometimes it is not feasible to work on your brand every day without pay.
We all have bills, so that is understandable. However, this is no reason why you cannot contribute to your overall vision for an hour each day.
Every hour that you put in can connect you with someone and or put your content in front of more people.
Step #3 Create the Content
By the time Huda had begun working with Revlon, she had mastered a routine that enabled her to create multiple forms of content.
Through which she was able to branch out to different social platforms. Facebook and Youtube were the first methods of social media where Huda Kattan established a presence.
If you look at her strategy, she was taking all of the content that she gathered in one day and was able to repurpose and reformat it using long-form video and engaging posts to build her following past her girlfriends and celebrity clients.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t until Huda started on Instagram in 2012 that she found the platform to would propel her to success. That very same year she reached her first 20,000 followers at lightning speed.
She then utilized the app’s “Popular Page” to expose her to new followers around the world.
Keep Things Fresh
Huda keeps her feed fresh and enticing by providing and creating photos and videos to show extraordinary beauty hacks like:
- The use of a silicone bra insert to apply makeup
- The application of a banana peel to treat acne
- Dunking your entirely made up face in ice water to create an airbrushed effect
She also reposts the work of other makeup artists, creates makeup tutorials, photographs or reviews her favorite makeup and beauty products, and debuts the new Huda Beauty products that are coming soon.
These Huda Beauty products are also another leg of her content distribution because she was able to increase her initial IG following after introducing her product line!
When she initially launched her Huda Beauty Lash Line in 2013 Kattan noted that her follower count would grow between 120,000 to 200,000 followers a week. Granted she would also lose 50,000 followers a week, but she would see growth in her following overall.
We all know that the IG algorithm can be fickle, sometimes it seems like the more you post, the more you lose followers. With that in mind and the IG rapture that appears to take place with the many follower robots disappearing and then reappearing on the Instagram platform, it is no wonder that the flux in numbers is so high.
The lash sets product in and of itself serves as a form of engagement and brand activation.
At this point, Huda’s followers can not only see her create, but they can purchase her creations as well. The lashes also worked as physical advertising. They were a way to introduce Huda Beauty to a new customer.
This tactic proved to be especially true and profitable once she got her product into Sephora. Patrons of the store who may not have heard of Kattan could not buy her products and get an introduction to Huda Beauty.
Content is key. Enough said.
Step #4 Form a Team
Huda’s family is her team.
Through her journey to build this empire of 20 million IG followers, her sisters have served as product testers and sounding boards. Remember, it was Huda’s older sister who initially sparked her interest in DIY beauty and makeup back when Huda was just a teenager.
Currently, Huda’s younger sister Mona Kattan who suggested that Huda being www.HudaBeauty.com all those years ago is now her business partner. She was also her first investor when Huda began her lash line.
Huda made it known to her sister that if they could not get their lashes into Sephora, then she was not going to sell them. The sisters met with distributors to help create their handmade lashes and were met with resistance right away.
Blood Is Thicker
Various distributors tried to thwart the Kattan sisters hope of ever being featured in the aisles of the beauty giant, but they were wrong. Of course getting into a store like Sephora was no easy feat, but the lashes have outperformed expectations.
This performance has enabled the brand to build a relationship with Sephora, and now the entire Huda Beauty product line is sold right alongside their lashes.
Huda’s older sister is also a part of the Huda Beauty brand as the social media manager. Funny enough, even though she is the one that introduced Huda to the beauty industry, she is the least interested in the beauty aspect of the business.
The three sisters join together to form Huda beauty, but each sister also has their lane and is free to have their own business outside of the chain.
Not to be forgotten, Huda’s husband and father are also a part of the Huda Beauty company.
Find you a team that understands your overall goal and is willing to help you get there by any means.
Step #5 Know the Trends
Kattan is a boss. She knows the beauty trends of the past, has her pulse on the current beauty trends and can predict what the next beauty consumer will want before they can articulate it.
Honestly, a lot of this talent comes from research and experience. Kattan is familiar with a lot of classic beauty tips and tricks because she was trained by the best and worked in an industry that celebrates old Hollywood glam.
She will even let you know that when she does break her routine to do makeup for women in Dubai, they are asking for her to replicate the internationally celebrated looks of Marilyn Monroe or old Hollywood actresses.
Kattan can keep up with the present with trends in the market and deliver to her audience because one: she spends anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours a day surfing the net for beauty products to stay current in the field.
This competitive shopping is research that she does on top of the reviews that she conducts for the hundreds of beauty products sent to her office.
Current Trend Sense
You can also tell that Huda is in step with the current trends by her product assortment.
When the Kylie lip kit came out, Huda answered with her lip contour pencil! A lip liner that you use to line your lips to give you a full natural pout.
She has been open about having a lot of ideas before other companies come out with the actual products on the mainstream market. A big struggle for her to overcome was her hesitation to pull the trigger.
More recently she says she is over waiting; if Huda Beauty has an idea on the table, she is going to act on it.
Aside from the research and the comp shopping, Huda’s beauty hacks are what enables her to see what the consumer needs.
Think about it, once you discover a DIY way to solve a problem you are only steps away from creating an actual product that can be purchased to solve the problem. Huda proved this to be true with her Tweezerman collab.
She was able to help girls with awkwardly shaped eyebrows tools to help shape their unique arches.
In the future, Huda knows that she will need to distinguish herself from influencer based brands like ColourPOP and Kylie Cosmetics.
She already has plans to innovate her palettes and focus on the product story to grab her customers similar to how she has attracted her Instagram followers.
Research and content creation can lead to the products of your viable product or service. Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger and trust the work you have put into your brand to profit. If you miss the mark and someone else comes out with the idea first, you will be back to square one!
Step #6 Stay True to Your Core
Huda has been able to stay true to her brand by limiting the number of product reviews, sponsored posts, and advertising on her IG and social media channels. She continues to give her audience the beauty hacks and tutorials that they originally came to her blog to get.
That type of authenticity ties into her dedication to the Huda Beauty brand. Huda did not build her company to sell out or fold. Companies have approached her in hopes of purchasing her Huda Beauty brand and taking advantage of her 20 million dollar fan base.
However, Huda did not bring her family into this to quit now. She is big on ownership and giving back. In fact, Huda still refers to herself as a beauty blogger. She does this because she considers herself a blogger who cover products and showcases beauty hacks.
Huda feels like keeping a simple title will show other people that they can accomplish what she has.
Another Huda Beauty objective independent of content creation and product distribution is her mission to build up other people just starting out in the beauty industry.
Huda Beauty wants to discover up and coming makeup artists through her platform. A step that will keep her brand fresh and on the verge of emerging trends and talent, but also a way to afford others an opportunity that they may not be able to get with a big conglomerate like Estee Lauder or MAC.
Tie your brand to a higher cause that you can continue to honor well after you have hit a monetary platform.
Build and Create
These six steps were not the only things that aided Huda Kattan in creating her Huda Beauty empire.
However, they are a great start! If you find your Interests, build a solid foundation around them, and then create content to draw people to you, you will be well on your way to expanding into something bigger.
Kattan also displays the importance of forming a team around you whether it be composed of your family of just qualified partners, staying abreast of trends, and following your brand’s ultimate mission.
It is what has made her into the budding mogul that she is today and what will keep her on her path to owning an empire. Be sure to comment on the critical components of Huda’s story before you start your empire!