“Everybody has an area of genius, and we don’t all operate in that area, we operate in the comfort area,” … “The area of genius is a scary place where you make crazy mistakes and do wacky things. Some things stick and some things don’t. But a lot of times you come across something that could be really incredible.” – Huda Katten
One thing the web isn’t short of is bloggers. There are currently over 400million blogs on Tumblr alone. Deigned by the New York Times to be ‘the most influential beauty blogger in the world’, Huda Katten has managed to fight her way to the top of that mountain. And what does the top look like? Well, to put her success into context, she currently has an Instagram following ten times the population of her native Dubai.
There have been rumours circulating for a while around how much these writers and internet stars earn and what we’re starting to see is how the savviest are really cashing in on their popularity. Bloggers who have evolved quickly and are leveraging their platforms to sell products. Huda Katten is one of these entrepreneurs. She began her blog 8 years ago, aged 26. She wasn’t working at the time and used that to her advantage, plugging her time and energy into filming make-up tutorials. Three years after beginning her blog, she made the decision to launch a make-up line and Huda Beauty was born.
It would be fair to say Katten’s look is on trend. Mega glamorous with long dark hair and thick lashes, she could almost be mistaken for the Kardashian’s fifth sister. Whilst she may not have a reality show, the power of her platform is immense. Beyond having instant access to a huge media channel, she can research products upfront. Said Artemis Patrick from Sephora US: “Huda can post a video tutorial, and then instantly see what’s resonating with her fans to determine current and future trends to inspire product development.”
In interviews she’s very transparent about what has truly made her successful: hard work and self-belief.
Currently worth an estimated $550million, below are some of the things she’s shared which I found the most valuable, on the road to success.
On work ethic…
“I work my butt off. Even on vacation, I always have a sketchbook with me. And on the plane, I don’t watch movies, I draw and I write down ideas.”
“do whatever it takes to inspire you because it all starts from there. I can’t do something unless I have that vision. Even when it comes to our products, it’s always an emotional thing. Once you feel like you have a mission, once you know what the end goal is, that’s when you will go out there and get shit done.”
On experiencing sabotage…
In the early days, she worked as a make-up artist for Revlon. As a relative newcomer to the scene, a rival took umbrage at Huda securing such a prestigious job and sent emails around the Global network, advising industry insiders not to work with her. “It was pretty awful and aggressive,”.
…and not being destroyed by it…
“I remember at the time, walking into a room when people were talking crap about me. I was just like, ‘You know what? Talk about me. Is it going to affect my business? Is it going to affect who I am? Is it going to affect what I’m doing? No. I might cry myself to sleep behind closed doors, but nobody is going to know. You are not going to make me stop blogging, you are not going to make me stop working hard. Nothing is going to stop me from doing that’”
On doing what you really want…
Huda actually credits the passing of Michael Jackson in 2009 as the catalyst for her career shift from banking into beauty: “I was like, he did what he was passionate about.”
“If I do something I’m not passionate about, how am I going to impact the world? And if I’m not changing the world in some way then what the hell am I doing?”
“You sacrifice your career for your kids, or you sacrifice your home time with your kids to build a life for them. I applaud all mothers.”
“I remember thinking, ‘Okay, either I’m able to hang out with friends, able to be a mom, able to be a wife or able to blog. I need to let some things go’. I remember having some friends who had a real hard time dealing with it.”
“I don’t have a social life. Sometimes I’m like, I wish I had somebody to have lunch with this weekend,”…“but I don’t actually have the time. I have some great friends, but I don’t ever see them. To be honest, they’re all Mona’s friends who I just kind of borrow from her,” [she laughs] “I find that my friends are now the people I work with. I always tell my team, ‘I’m forcing you all to be my best friends.’ So I literally only hire people that I think are very cool, that I can be friends with,”
On her sister…
With a background in investment banking, Mona, 31, now plays an integral role in steering the company’s financial strategy. “Mona is probably the smartest human I know,” … “She’s so brilliant, but we have very different work ethics. I am like ‘work, work, work’, and she can come in for 10 minutes and deliver the best idea ever and be done.”
On being annoyed by ‘pretty shaming’…
“Like you should feel ashamed for wanting to go under the knife. You should feel ashamed for getting fillers. If I want to look more beautiful, why am I all of a sudden categorised as a certain woman?”
On getting shit done, any which way…
Unable to afford a professional photographer to shoot imagery for the packaging of her lashes, the eye shot is, actually selfie that she took in her bedroom.
On the importance of self-belief and conviction…
“Everybody was like, ‘Your lashes are irrelevant. Why are you important?’,” she remembers firing back with, “Do you guys not understand what I’m saying? I’m going to change the world of beauty”
“People maybe thought I was cocky, and I wasn’t, not at all. I just knew that my passion would be so strong people would eventually feel it,”
“You need to make sure you can 100% stand by what it is you’re selling. Make sure its watertight because people won’t like it and they will pick holes in it. It doesn’t mean they’re right it just means you have to be able to argue against every possible criticism they may have.”
On having the highest standards…
“If we hit a billion dollars in sales in one year, [maybe then] I will celebrate”… “I don’t think it’s hard for make-up brands to achieve that,”
I mean, FAIR. YOU TREAT YOURSELF.
AND FINALLY… some makeup tips…
“My makeup will stay on from morning until late and people are always like, ‘How? What do you do?’ It comes down to—and I know this is going to sound so bad—but really layering lots of makeup properly. That’s the key if you’re partying, working, or a mom or whatever—this is foolproof. You could have someone essentially pour water on you and you could dab it off and your makeup would be fine.”
So powder powder powder – after foundation and optional contouring: “you should bake—I’m a firm believer in baking. The process is, you put on your makeup and seal it with powder by over-applying. … with a dense, dry sponge. You could also use a really dense kabuki brush, as long as it’s really caking on the product. Then you leave it for a while. Then when you brush the excess powder off, you have this beautiful cast of finished product. You don’t even need a setting spray really—your makeup will literally last through a hurricane… because who wants to spend three hours on their makeup and then spend another 20 minutes every so often touching up? We don’t have time for that!”
Lexy is a writer, DJ and marketing professional living in London. She is a gemini and a feminist who loves coffee and leather trousers.