Like so many other businesses in the current economic downturn, and even with huge startup success, Huda Kattan says the pandemic has made navigating her beauty empire “incredibly challenging.”
“You know, nobody really understands how to navigate through this,” Kattan, the CEO and founder of Huda Beauty, told Yahoo Finance. “I think one of the things that we've been really trying to figure out is, do we talk about makeup during this time when the reality is people want to be home? And I think that's kind of the first thing that we kind of realized is, like we thought about ourselves.”
Kattan, who started her business 10 years ago as a makeup artist and influencer, said her company “decided to push back all of our launches ahead of beauty, which was a little bit challenging, considering we're already experiencing tremendous losses due to our distribution being mostly bricks and mortar.”
The Huda Beauty brand has 43 million Instagram followers and Kattan’s business has grown to include a lash line, skincare brand and makeup label. Kattan is also the first influencer to get a traditional private equity investor.
The billionaire businesswoman has also taken the extra step of thinking about her employees and forgoing her salary for the rest of the year to make sure that the focus remains on their health and not their jobs. “We made a very, very firm decision on not touching any salaries, not letting any employees go,” Kattan said.
“It's really challenging to think about people who are literally living job to job, gig to gig... it's hard to imagine what some of these people are going through,” she said.
Amid stay-at-home orders, businesses across the U.S. have temporarily closed their stores, including beauty giants like Ulta and Sephora, where Huda Beauty sells. “Total beauty sales declined by 58% in the week ending March 28 versus the prior year,” according to NPD Group, “though products like body oils, home scents, nail care, and hair color all posted sales growth, and some in the double-digits.” NPD also noted that online sales captured close to 90% of all beauty spending.
Kattan believes that the influencer culture will have to adapt to their audience. “There's definitely going to be – I don't know if it's going to die, the influencer culture, but I definitely think it's going to need to be adapted in order to be long term. I think a lot of influencers are going to have a hard time.”
Pamela Mitchell is a producer at Yahoo Finance.