Beauty influencers starting their own brand is no new story – one of the first to do this was Dubai’s Huda Kattan back in 2013. Since then, others such as Kuwait’s Fouz al Foud, aka the Real Fouz, opened her own salon, and makeup artist Asica has created her own curated line of Korean skincare, called Seoul Kool. While these businesses were launched pre pandemic, it would seem that COVID-19 did not deter other influencers from becoming their own beauty entrepreneurs, perhaps because beauty and wellness have proved to be resilient to the pandemic.
In January, Kuwaiti influencer Noha Nabil (with an Instagram following of nine million) announced the launch of her eponymous makeup brand. Targeted to the Arab woman, products such as her highly pigmented eyeshadow palettes are designed to work specifically in hotter climates. Only a few weeks ago, Dubai-based Iraq influencer Mina Al Sheikhly equally launched her own set of mascaras. “On the technical side, I noticed the market is lacking quality in brushes and formula. Especially the formula for a smudge-proof, water-resistant, mascara-flake-free, anti-panda eye effect and easily removable mascara was lacking in my opinion,” says Al Sheikhly. “I can confidently say my brushes and formula are the best on the market and anyone using my products can attest to that.” She admits that Huda was her inspiration. “She was one of the pioneers in creating her own products and selling them globally from the MENA region. She managed to turn her business into such a success story, and I love her entrepreneurial spirit.”
A self-confessed mascara junkie, Al Sheikhly has been working on this project for three years. She has launched two types of mascaras: Elevated, which has a luxurious fiber brush that curls and spreads your lashes for an everyday look, and Tailored, which features an infinity brush, perfect for evenings and special occasions as it lifts and adds volume and length. For a more dramatic look both mascaras can even be used together.
Al Sheikhly says that when an influencer starts a product line, it has to speak of her own style, personality and most importantly, it needs to fill a niche. “I would say it is important to have a clear vision and to do your research properly. Don’t just create something to sell, create something that speaks for itself and will sell as a result of that. Find out what the market is lacking and then cater to the gap you’ve identified – this is what creates an opportunity.” As an influencer you have an insider,s exposure into the industry and are able to test the products that are in the market already. This can help you discover where there is a sweet spot in the market.
Miriam Abadi is a Dubai based German-Lebanese influencer who launched her own wellness and beauty platform a year ago. She says: “ I was struggling to find conclusive answers for topics that I cared deeply about, which is why I decided to launch a dedicated platform that harnessed expert advice to address pressing themes in a manner that is accessible and straightforward.” Abadi gave up her corporate job of 13 years at the end of 2019, and, in the last couple of years, her own social media base as a micro beauty influencer has been steadily growing. Her passion for beauty came from her own personal struggle with self-esteem, as she had suffered from acne at various points of her life. “Proudly Middle Eastern, Tru & Beyond is the region’s first-ever dedicated beauty and wellness hub with a global reach. We know finding the right information and advice is both confusing and time consuming, which is why, at Tru & Beyond, we take on that task for you.”
Instagram can guide you to see what women want. “Social media actually played a major part in all of this,” says Abadi. “I realized every time I talked about a beauty or skin tip authentically, I used to receive an overwhelming number of questions and inquiries. Today’s audience is bombarded with filtered, sugar-coated and open-ended advice that no one could really take a decision from really.” Your social media following can be a digital focus group.
While it is early days for Al Sheikhly and Abadi in their respective businesses, both have seen good results. Al Sheikhly sees many clients returning and hopes to extend her line, and Abadi is encouraged by the number of brands asking to work with her. In fact, Tru & Beyond recently tied up with luxury e-tailer Ounass for three skincare kits curated by Abadi, with each box featuring her favorite products and skincare tools.
For these Arab influencers, their passions have been turned into their purpose thanks to Instagram.