Areej Sultan Al Essa
Middle Eastern women have a renowned age-old kinship with beauty and it seems to be going from strength to strength. The Middle East and Africa is the fastest-growing region in beauty and personal care products over the next few years, according to research by Euromonitor International. And markets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE will increase by a whopping 12 percent and 5.8 percent respectively. Yet, only a few cosmetic brands present in the region formulate their products with the women of Arabia in mind, which is where beauty industry veteran, Areej Sultan Al Essa comes in. In truly resourceful entrepreneur style, she created K7L, a Kuwaiti cosmetics brand inspired by Arabia that’s changing the status quo.
The comprehensive range of make-up and beauty products (there are over 500 of them), which was a culmination of a decade of meticulous market research and observation, includes just about any item you can think of. What’s more, many of them take the region’s climate into consideration, for example anti-humidity formulas, including anti-oxidants for skin protection and the rich colours favoured by women from the region. Then there are the standout products like the lipsticks you can rock for 24 hours, the nail polishes without the toxins and cruelty-free brushes.
We talk to Al Essa to get more details about the high-quality brand, which she has made to suit every woman on every occasion. Plus, she explains how the name K7L safeguards the brand’s Arabic roots, no matter what international path it follows.
Why do you think women from the region have always had such an affinity with beauty?
Beauty is in our DNA. It is already incorporated into our daily lives, from putting henna on our hands as little girls to achieve that beautiful orange hue, to ‘treating’ our hair with coconut oil after a day spent swimming in the Arabian Gulf. We didn’t have to wait to be of a certain age to partake in these rituals. So naturally, we graduate to other beauty regiments and treatments.
So when did your love for beauty start to blossom?
I wouldn’t call it love, more like intrigue. I remember as far back as when I was five years old, I used to accompany my mother to her visits to a place where a woman would wash her hair and then style it, while another would work on her nails. I remember I always wondered what it all feels like as it looked so exotic and pretty to me. All the nail polishes and different products they used to play with….
Which kinds of details attest K7L was launched with Arabian women in mind?
The “proof is in the pudding” …or ‘product’ in this case. Wherever I could, I created a formula that is long-lasting, rich in colour, waterproof and anti-humidity. I believe this is what most Arab women look for; formulas that are potent…just like us!
Even the name has a link to Arabic origins. Could you elaborate?
We aspired to connect K7L’s Arabic origins to the Western world where we envision embracing the brand in the near future. To the Western eye, K7L reads as two letters with the lucky number ‘7’ wedged in between. But the number ‘7’ in Arabia has widely started to be used colloquially to denote a hard, guttural ‘H,’ an inflection not pronounced in the English language. To those who speak Arabic, K7L actually reads ‘KHL’ which is the Arabic word for traditional eyeliner. It’s our way of encrypting our roots into the brand, so that no matter what international path it follows, it will always possess that link to its foundations.
Can you tell us a bit about the ingredients you use?
Absolutely, although we manufacture in five different countries, most of our ingredients are imported from Europe. The rest are from the United States, where we manufacture our nail polishes, which are non-toxic and paraben-free; our brush bristles comes from Japan. We use a special kind of polyester called Taklon, which mimics human hair. Taklon is anti-microbial and anti-bacterial and most importantly for me, it is cruelty-free. I am very passionate about animals and our products are only tested on humans!
K7L Lip Crayons
So which products are your personal favourites?
This is difficult since I created them, but I do like some more than others. I find that just because I have a favourite doesn’t mean it is everyone else’s. I love our waterproof eyeliners, our crème eyeliners, our Matte Lipsilks and our Luxe Matte Lipsticks. I am crazy about our brushes as a lot of thought and effort were put into them to come up with the best bristles we could offer. We have new products in the pipeline that I am crazy about, but all in due time.
Can you describe the type of woman you see wearing your products?
I want ALL women to wear K7L. It is for everyone, teenagers to mature women. While it was created with the Arabic woman in mind, it doesn’t mean we left out our Western and Eastern sisters! We priced it competitively so that every woman can purchase at least one product or two.
What sets K7L apart from other regional brands?
K7L is a complete, comprehensive make-up line with over 500 products to choose from. From eyelashes and colour cosmetics to make-up brushes, we have it all. We are always adding new products to our brand and updating formulas when we have better ones.
How do you plan to stay ahead of trends and keep offering sought-after products?
Because of my work, I am always at the forefront of beauty, wherever it may be. I attend several trade fairs throughout the year, where new beauty products and trends are launched. I subscribe to several magazines as well that keep me up-to-date, and one cannot neglect the power of social media nowadays. I can rest assured it will deliver.
Name three beauty essentials you put on religiously while doing your make-up.
1. BB crème and sunblock
2. K7L Babydoll Mascara
3. K7L Rahash Eyeshadow
What’s your favourite autumn-winter 2017/18 beauty trend?
Strong, bold colours are making a comeback in winter 2018. After several seasons of the “no make-up” make-up, I cannot wait to see all the beautiful, colourful looks!