WHEN HUDA KATTAN launched Huda Beauty in 2013, it was seen as a bit of a game changer.
As Huda came from a background of beauty blogging, she knew what she wanted in products as well as what consumers on the ground were after. Since then, the line has been at the forefront, delivering trend-centred lines to the masses.
Now, Kattan is turning her focus to skincare and fragrance with the help of her sister Mona, starting with their first collection, KAYALI | 01.
KAYALI means ‘my imagination’ in Arabic, a name which perfectly summarises “the transformative ability of fragrance”, according to Huda.
The sisters spoke to DailyEdge.ie about the new brand, working together as a family and how to layer fragrance like a pro.
I suppose the first question would have to be – why fragrance? Was it always in both of your long term plans to launch a fragrance brand?
Huda: ”My sister Mona has always been super passionate about fragrance and I love it too, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to create my own and get into this new and complex category.
“Layering is huge in the Middle East so we grew up with it, but she really inspired me to dig into it, play with different notes and scents and to immerse myself in the fragrance world.
“Truthfully, I just struggled with how best to market and sell fragrance because it is a really tough thing to do. It was just really tricky to visualise how this new brand would work for us.
With some experimenting and convincing, Mona sold me on KAYALI because the concept was something so new and so inviting that I was confident we could make it work!”
Mona: “I’ve always loved fragrance, I even picked up a part time job when I was younger just so I could buy perfume!
“Growing up in the US, we quickly realised that the rest of the world was missing out on the Middle Eastern tradition of perfume layering which is essentially why we created KAYALI. We want everyone to feel inspired to create their own fragrance through perfume layering!”
What did you find the biggest difference was starting this brand in comparison to your makeup brand, Huda Beauty?
Huda: ”The biggest difference in starting KAYALI compared to Huda Beauty is the approach to marketing.
Colour cosmetics thrives on Instagram and that’s our biggest strength – social media marketing. Fragrance is its own challenge since you just can’t sell the product benefits on Instagram in the same way as a lipstick for example.
“It’s been a super fun challenge having to look at the business from a new perspective and we’re learning so much as we go. We honestly wish you could scratch and sniff an Instagram post because that would make our job so much easier!”
When it came to creating KAYALI, what process surprised you the most?
Mona: ”We are perfectionists so we definitely knew it wouldn’t be simple to create the perfect scents.
“It did, however, take many more iterations before we finalised certain scents over others which was pretty surprising; VANILLA | 28 was specifically the most challenging for us to perfect; it’s became a much more complex juice than we had imagined.
“The development process was so tedious that we actually decided to incorporate the rounds of modifications to show how different the process can be for each scent.
The number next to the name of each variant represents the amount of times we tweaked our formulas before we fell in love with them.”
How difficult (or easy!) is it working with family?
Huda: “It definitely comes with its challenges but it’s not as hard for us as some would think because we are all so close and so focused.
“We all think differently in many cases but that’s what creates the magic. We all come to the table with different perspectives to get us to our shared end goal – it’s pretty incredible.”
Mona: ”We definitely have our differences at times and there can certainly be challenges but in the end, we trust one another and our judgements more than anything.
We do like to keep family and business separate though, so when we’re having quality time, we try not to talk about work which has been super healthy for us!”
Talk to me about the concept of fragrance layering – what are the basics that everyone should know about?
Mona: ”The main thing to remember with layering is that it’s all about playing around and finding different combinations that YOU love!
Typically, you should spray your fragrances in order of intensity, using the lightest, most delicate fragrances at the end.
“But we encourage you to experiment and do what makes you feel your best; don’t be afraid to break the rules!”
Huda: ”Mona really nailed this one! I think placement is also important when it comes to perfuming.
I always tell people to spray the perfume on various pulse points including your neck, wrists, inner elbow, behind the knees, and behind the ears for a more powerful result.”
What’s your favourite layering combination from the collection?
Mona: ”At the moment, one of my favourite blends is a base of ELIXIR | 11 with a spritz of VANILLA | 28, finished with a layer of MUSK | 12. It creates the most gorgeous complex, floral scent. I do however use different combinations depending on how I’m feeling that day or where I’m going.
I experiment so much day-to-day that I’ve actually layered up to 12-15 different scents before!”
Huda: ”I love ELIXIR | 11. It’s sexy, floral notes become super addictive. It’s definitely my favorite and makes me feel the most confident! I also love layering it with CITRUS | 08 for a very surprising, unexpected combination.”
Any tips on how to make perfume last longer?
Huda: ”You should spray to your various pulse points because these areas will heat up during the day and cause your skin to release the scent at that moment. I would also recommend applying the fragrance directly to skin that is exposed to the air, not directly to your clothes.
Mona: ”Perfume doesn’t wear as well on dry skin so make sure your skin is moisturised with an unscented moisturiser for the best results.
If you apply Vaseline to your pulse points before you spray your perfume, it will last longer as the ointment will hold the fragrance for hours.”
Do you have a memory that you heavily associate with a fragrance?
Huda: “Our CITRUS | 08 brings me back to the moment I left Dubai and moved to LA to study makeup. Right before I left, Mona introduced me to perfume layering and taught me more about her love for perfumes. It wasn’t very long after this moment that I decided to move to LA to follow my dreams. Now, every time I smell our CITRUS | 08 it brings me back to this crucial moment in my life: when she introduced me to her passion while I left to follow mine.
Fragrance can bring back such vivid memories and that’s a reason we created KAYALI, we wanted to share that power.”
What are the plans for KAYALI going forward? Will you be expanding the line?
Mona: ”We’re working on so many exciting things right now that we can’t disclose at the moment! We’re finalising KAYALI Collection | 02 though which has been so much fun; we cannot wait to share it with everyone!”