Be the Boss

Huda Kattan, founder of a billion-dollar beauty brand, explains what she looks for in new hires

Makeup artist Huda Kattan attends day 2 of POPSUGAR Play/Ground on June 10, 2018 in New York City.
Cindy Ord | Getty Images

Self-made millionaire Huda Kattan says that she doesn't want to work with "yes men," who agree with everything she says, but instead wants people who "challenge" her views.

Kattan told CNBC that she interviews every single person applying to work at the Dubai headquarters of Huda Beauty and that she hired people "for the way they think."

The beauty mogul, who's business Forbes reported to be valued at $1.2 billion in 2017, said that she had the same level of involvement with her investments in other emerging businesses.

Her $10 million early-stage investment fund Huda Beauty Angels, which launched in 2017, invests in and provides mentorship for "women that are starting businesses for women."

However, she emphasized that the funding was not "done money" and that she worked "hand-in-hand" with these women.

"I'm in the barracks with you and if you get crushed, I'm getting crushed, which is why we also can't do a lot of investments and it's a very important piece of our DNA, of our activism," she added.

Kattan described herself as a "hard-core feminist" and said that her experiences starting out as a woman in business led her to create the fund.

"I've struggled so much as a woman in business, where I'm the key decision-maker in the company and people would consistently never make eye contact with me, they would be talking to my husband," she said.

Huda's 'obsession'

Kattan said entrepreneurs needed to have a purpose for starting their business and couldn't simply view it as a "money-making opportunity."

"I feel like when you have obsession, you will do it, if you're making money or you're not," she said, explaining that she had "absolute no money" in the first seven years of her business.

Kattan said she almost walked away from getting outside investment in Huda Beauty, as the business had positive cash-flow, but she decided to accept financial backing in order to get the strategic help needed to build an "impactful" business.

Private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners bought a minority stake in Huda Beauty in 2017, which has invested in other make-up brands such as Smashbox. This investment was partly used to set up Huda Beauty Angels.

Kattan, who majored in finance in college, started Huda Beauty as a blog and YouTube channel after losing her job in recruitment.

She then launched Huda Beauty's first products with a line of false lashes, with her sisters Alya and Mona in 2013.

Kattan has amassed 3.84 million subscribers on her YouTube channel and 41.4 million followers on Instagram.

The beauty mogul has a net worth of $610 million, featuring on Forbes' 2019 list of America's Richest Self-Made Women.

Kattan was speaking on CNBC's Marketing.Media.Money program which aired on Thursday.

—CNBC's Nia Warfield contributed to this article.

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