Huda Kattan is a self-made millionaire with a beauty company Forbes recently valued at $1 billion.
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This founder and beauty influencer never planned to become a businesswoman. In fact, nearly a decade ago she was like a lot of recent grads, working hard at jobs that didn't always reflect her true passion.
As she made her way, she would make an important realization: Success wasn't just about working hard, which she had always done. Success was about finding fulfillment.
Kattan was a good student who studied finance in college. She chose the major when her parents urged her to study "something serious." At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, she joined a host of activities, became an honors student and was a speaker at graduation. Still, she knew something was missing.
After graduating in 2007, her fiance (now her husband) sensed a financial downturn would hit Michigan hard. He suggested the couple move to Dubai where he'd be starting a new job. Kattan asked the recruitment company she worked for to transfer her to its Dubai office.
The couple moved in 2008 but could not escape the crisis' global reach. She lost her job within a few months of moving. While she briefly worked in PR, she soon realized that that wasn't her passion either, quitting in the first two weeks.
By 2009, Kattan reached a turning point. Michael Jackson died and she realized, "He did what he was passionate about," she said in Harper's Bazaar Arabia in 2016. It was one of several moments that prompted Huda to think about her impact on the world.
Not sure what direction to take, her sister urged her to study makeup, a longtime interest. Kattan returned to school for a certificate in makeup artistry and began practicing her craft at Revlon. Soon she began Huda Beauty as a blog, working as a makeup artist by day and a blogger by night, growing a following by creating makeup tutorials and sharing expert tips.
Her beauty empire was just starting, but even then she knew she was closer to finding that sense of fulfillment she'd been missing.
Still, she didn't see herself selling products. When her sister Mona suggested that she start her own beauty company, Kattan blew off the idea.
With an extra nudge and a small loan from one of her sisters, Huda Beauty began selling false lashes in 2013. These lashes would receive early praise from Kim Kardashian West and later secure a coveted spot on beauty retailer Sephora's shelves.
Kattan and her co-founder sisters pushed the brand forward, learning everything from manufacturing to packaging as they went, with Kattan's apartment doubling as her warehouse in the company's early days.
In the five years since, much has changed. The brand offers 140 products and the company expects revenue for 2018 to reach $400 million, doubling last year's numbers. By the end of the year, Kattan's brand will be in 900 stores across the U.S. and an additional 600 around the world, up from 200 at the start of 2018.
Her followers span the globe and have been key to her success.
Committing to her fanbase has sometimes meant making tough decisions. Earlier this year, while filming her Facebook Watch show "Huda Boss," Huda Beauty scrapped a new concealer because of imperfections in the formula — a decision that Kattan told Make It cost the company roughly $10 million in potential revenue.
"It wasn't a financial choice, it was a choice that we made for our community," said Kattan.
Kattan has an estimated net worth of $550 million and landed on the Forbes list of America's richest self-made women in 2018 alongside Oprah Winfrey, Meg Whitman and Kylie Jenner.
Kattan has said that she would like to build Huda Beauty into a business that can compete with top beauty names such as L'Oreal and Estee Lauder.
In 2017, Huda created HB Angels, an early stage investment fund to help new entrepreneurs get started on their own businesses.
"I realized that my purpose really is to inspire people," she explained in July. "It has nothing to do with money, it has nothing to do with anything material. It's really to prove to people that the little guy can make it."
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How this self-made millionaire and Instagram star built her billion-dollar beauty brand | CNBC Make It.