“I am a firm believer in time management, down to the minute,” says Huda Kattan, founder of the international beauty empire Huda Beauty. “I know that might seem like a little much, but I believe you can get a lot done in very little time.” Indeed, the makeup mogul regularly clocks 12-hour workdays and travels globally several times each month. She’s been named a “Top 10 Beauty Influencer” by Forbes, and Time magazine called her one of “The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet.” She lives in Dubai with husband and business partner, Chris Goncalo, and together they have a young daughter, Nour. Here’s how she gets it all done.
On early rising:
I wake up at 6 a.m. and start with yoga. I’m by no means a morning person, but I’ve trained myself to become one. My husband wakes up at 4:30 a.m., so he makes me feel like a loser. When you wake up and no one is in the bed, it kind of gets you up.
At 7 a.m. I spend time with my daughter. That usually sets up my day really, really well. I get that morning “me time” and then I get my time with my daughter, so if I have those two things I’m in a really good mood.
The office is less than a ten-minute drive away. I have a driver, so first we drop my daughter off at school, and then I go to the office from there. My husband goes to the gym at 4:30 a.m., and he has his own routine. The first time I see him is usually in the office; we’re usually the first ones there.
On skipping coffee:
I can’t take much caffeine because I am very high-strung naturally, so I’m not really a coffee drinker unless I’m jet-lagged. I do drink green tea with fresh mint; that’s my favorite thing in the world. I try to do breakfast. I’m really into good acai bowls with coco powder and peanut butter.
On how she starts each day in the office:
Our office hours begin at 9 a.m., but I like to get there by 7:30 a.m. For the first hour-and-a-half I like being by myself because I’m never, ever, ever by myself. Sometimes I’ll go to the bathroom and people will want to come with me and talk to me, and I’m like, No, guys, give me a minute. [Laughs.] Even when my husband or my sisters come in early — because we all work together — I try to make sure that nobody comes in or disturbs me.
It’s very important time; I use it to journal and write. I like to reflect or plan my goals, and I have this morning playlist I love to listen to. It’s four songs: DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” “Bodak Yellow” from Cardi B, the “Flawless” remix with Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, and “Blessings.” I like to aggressively say every single lyric. It makes me really, really happy. It’s so motivating. After that, I immediately switch to classical music and I’ll start doing my creative work. At 9:05 a.m. I try to go around to everyone in the office to say good morning. It’s really important to me that I get to see everyone and see how everyone is doing.
On nonstop meetings:
Starting hard-core from about 10 a.m. until about 5:30 or 6 p.m., I basically have back-to-back meetings where I’m not able to leave my chair. I try to make them as short as possible. My product-development meetings are like two hours, but generally speaking all my meetings are 15 to 30 minutes max. They all take place in my office. Today I had visual merchandising talking about pop-ups, launches, and relaunches, and then after that I had a meeting with our Family Office, with the CEO, discussing investments and all those things. I had a product-development meeting for two-and-half hours, and I had a meeting with my marketing team.
I remember a Thursday not too long ago, I was in back-to-back meetings and I hadn’t eaten or peed, and I really had to, but the meetings just keep coming in. It’s like a revolving door. People get so aggressive if a meeting goes over. There’s just so much going on in the office right now, so everything is moving really fast.
On long days:
I’m an entrepreneur and I’m in start-up phase, so I think it’s just natural that we have really, really long days. When I come home, I’ll spend some time with my family and then I’ll go straight back to work. I think it’s just natural when you’re building your own business — especially in this industry where you have so many moving parts. I don’t know if you really ever turn off. I think 12-hour workdays are pretty standard.
Every once in a while, I get so exhausted with work, I’ll go into my team and say, Okay, guys, I’m not doing anything; you have to cancel everything. I definitely have certain things that I need to keep in balance.
On working in a family business:
Working with my family is the best thing and the worst thing all in one. Most days it’s really, really amazing. There’s a lot of trust, there’s a lot of loyalty, there’s a lot of honesty, so you can get things done faster, but the thing that also kind of sucks is that there can be too much comfort. If you have a really important meeting, people barge in sometimes; people will challenge your ideas unnecessarily, and I do that sometimes, too.
Working with your husband is challenging because you want to maintain your relationship. My husband and I have worked it out so that we don’t become just colleagues, but that was really hard in the beginning. Now we have to have date nights once a week and we can’t talk about work when we get home.
On being the boss:
If I see someone with an attitude, I’ll pull them aside. I don’t like attitudes. I don’t like bad energy. I don’t like people who argue. I don’t like assholes. I don’t tolerate cattiness or people who are backstabbing. I think people in the office know I have a strict no-tolerance policy. One of the things that helps keep the team motivated is that I constantly tell them why they are here, why we are working together, and what our mission is. As much as we are really demanding, we do give a lot to the team as well. I want the most out of people from 9 to 5. After that, people do work, but I want them to have lives outside of the office. I don’t necessarily have one, but I want to make sure people have balance.
A team that plays together, stays together:
We do these monthly parties for everyone because we have people who are moving from all over the world to work with us. We’ll rent out a movie theater and say, “Bring your husband, your friend, whoever,” and just come and hang out. And people don’t leave; they really like to hang out. Sometimes I have FOMO because I feel like I’m not allowed to hang out with them as much. I have to be careful, I don’t want to have favoritism, but I want to hang out with everyone. The environment feels like family. It feels slightly dysfunctional, but it works.
I hate traveling. I feel like I’m always on a plane. It’s challenging because I have a daughter, so I have a rule that I don’t generally take trips over three days. For anything over four days, I have to take her with me, and that’s hard because she’s in school, so I have to plan around her breaks. I think the most important thing is to try to keep on your routine when you travel. I’m not a routine person whatsoever, but I just feel like it makes you more efficient when you have certain things you can plan around.
On mom duties:
I have to have help. I’m not ashamed of it. My driver drops off and picks up my daughter from school and we have a nanny. I think it’s really important that I’m close with my daughter, so I like to spend time with her. If I don’t, I become a really bitchy person. You know there’s something really wonderful about our world where we’re so busy, everything is so bougie — especially when you’re an influencer — and there’s all this designer stuff; it’s cool, it’s really fun, but there’s something about kids that’s simple and calming, and it centers me.
Nour will sometimes come to the office. She loves being there. She tries to do playdates there, and we do her tutoring there. If she comes to the office I don’t mind leaving a little bit later. I’ll order pizza, and I have a living room in my office, and we’ll watch a movie for a bit. Otherwise, I try to leave the office by 5:30 or 6 p.m.
I get in bed around 10 p.m. Sleep to me is really important. Having said that, I haven’t slept in like 14 days, but I’ve been traveling.