40 of Tomorrow: Huda Kattan
Influencing is coming for us all.
At least it is if you ask Huda Kattan, the largest beauty influencer in the world with 29.2 million Instagram followers.
"Everyone is going to become an influencer. You walk down the street, everybody is taking pictures of their food and…everybody takes selfies and talks about their favorite products," Kattan said. "It might not be to a super big level but everybody has influence. Celebrities will have to become influencers…if you're an actor, people are going to care about your following and how you can engage."
Kattan, who leads a beauty empire that is slated to bring in $400 million in retail sales for 2018, has forged her own unusual path. After leaving a career in the finance world, she created the still-popular beauty blog Huda Beauty, drawing in legions of dedicated fans — and fan accounts — and building a base of trusted followers by shunning payment from brands in favor of her own opinions and ideas. In 2013, she launched her first product — false lashes — and they flew off the shelves of some of beauty's most prestige retailers.
Naomi Campbell brought them up at the WWD Beauty Awards breakfast in 2016. She wanted them, and they were always sold out at Harrod's, she said.
Fast forward to 2018, Huda Beauty is fixing its out-of-stock issues, with the help of back-end support from private equity investor TSG Consumer Partners. Kattan is the only beauty influencer to ever reach this level of mainstream business success, and so far, the only one to land the support of the traditional investment community.
In 2018, she decided to diversify the company beyond makeup by launching subbrands. The company's first, Kayali, a fragrance line, is off to a strong start.
But even though she's racked up success after success, Kattan is not complacent.
"One can not be too comfortable in such a dynamic, booming industry, especially when everyone wants to be a player, and right now, everyone wants to be a player," Kattan said. "The person with a great idea a great marketing brain — has a lot of potential. Everyone has an opportunity no matter how big or small — there's just too much going on to be comfortable."
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