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I never set out to be a beauty entrepreneur. I actually studied interior architecture, and then went on to work in a number of different fields – although all of them were within creative industries. I never thought I would ever be in the beauty business, but the world works in mysterious ways…
My own business journey started with an idea, but if it wasn’t for Covid I probably wouldn’t be here. The pandemic gave me the time to do my research and set up everything. I always wanted to do something different, but I never thought that would be make-up. We are trying to support other women and enhance their natural beauty, and I hope it’s working.
As a female entrepreneur, building a business is always challenging – especially if you are entering a new field. The product development process, building the IT structure, establishing a supply chain, understanding marketing, finance and retail – none of it is easy. It’s important to wear a lot of different hats and understand all aspects of the business. I’m lucky I have a great team that support me in this every day.
I don’t remember the name of the first beauty product I bought but I know it was a clear plumping lip gloss I found in Sephora. As a teenager I wasn’t allowed to use a lot of make-up, so this was perfect. It was clear but made my lips look bigger and redder without using pigmented colour, so I got away with it. The beauty standards in this region, particularly Saudi Arabia, change all the time. But I think in the next few years, the common beauty standard will be more natural and practical as the habits of women evolve and they join the country’s workforce.
There are a lot of great brands out there that I respect. NARS is one of my favourites; it's just so consistent. I also admire Charlotte Tilbury for the way it's outgrown other luxury brands and Chantecaille's ethics. Milk is one of the coolest brands out there and I also like The Ordinary for changing the way we perceive skincare. Of course, Huda Beauty has led the way in the Arab world, too.
My number one beauty icon is Linda Evangelista, I also love Marion Cotillard, Zoe Kravitz and Kristen Stewart. I think there is something very unique about them and they can pull off lots of different looks. One of my favourite influencers is Isamaya French and I also really like Doniella Davy – they are quite avant garde, artistic and edgy. There isn't a huge amount of authenticity in this business these days – I’d like to see more unique beauty content.
Riyadh is a very special place and it’s our home. The business was conceived here and it’s where our head office is based today. We also launched our first pop-up in Riyadh and our permanent store is set to open in the city soon. It’s a city full of surprises, but what makes it special is its people. The women of Riyadh are are mysterious and some of the most resilient women you will ever meet.
Being a part of Riyadh Fashion Week was very exciting for us. To be included in the first official Fashion Week in Saudi Arabia is something to be proud of. My team and I collaborated with Vimi Joshi, who was our lead make-up artist, overseeing a team of 20 artists we recruited both locally and globally to design and produce beauty looks for all the shows. We also had an ASTERI ‘Glam Station’ for anyone attending shows to make last-minute touch-ups.
ASTERI is unique because we’re the only beauty brand that’s created a desert-proof test in a lab to ensure each product lasts in extreme heat and humidity. We’re also vegan, microplastic- and cruelty-free, and our palm oil comes from a sustainable source – plus, we’re working on becoming B Corp certified.
I wanted to create something you can use once and not have to reapply. Whether you live in hot, humid or extremely cold weather, our products last. Weather has an effect on most make-up products as they make them less stable. But we’ve produced products that are light on your skin but stand up to the elements. All our products have been tested in labs that recreated these extreme weather conditions to make sure that they last without the need for constant upkeep.
Our bestselling products change periodically, but our Maha Mascara, Arabian Sun Bronzer, Swoosh Blush Sticks, and Super Massive Kohls are among the top five. Its the performance and quality that really stand out to customers. Our Legacy Lipbalm is also really popular. It’s clinically proven to hydrate the lips, and of course it’s desert proof. The formula contains lychee fruit extract to moisturise and argan oil to condition the lips. It's hard for me to play favourites because I genuinely use the whole collection. That said, for a quick fix I love to use the Maha Mascara, the Swoosh Blushstick, the Archer Brow Pencil and Gel, the Universal Lip Liner and Sweet Oasis Lipgloss.
If I could give any advice to my younger self, I’d tell myself to follow up more but to also be patient – things are changing in the region, but you need to be able to keep up. I’d also tell myself to not stress so much about the future and to live more in the moment.
I’m very excited about ASTERI’s second product drop. It’s an expansion of the current collection but we also have some newcomers, such as the Aura Radiant Foundation, Cipher Powder and some fun colour and shade extensions for our liners, concealers and eyeshadow palettes – not to mention the new minis and accessories. I can’t pick a favourite. What’s great about the collection is that it’s all buildable. So, if you want just a little bit of coverage you can use a more conservative amount, or keep adding to go more glam.
My parting words of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to have self-belief. Starting a business requires a lot of hard work, so believing in oneself is so important when it comes to pushing through those tough challenges and obstacles. It’s definitely what got me here.