We’re in the digital age and it’s pushing us around like nothing ever did. If you haven’t noticed, influencers, bloggers, or whatever else is in their Instagram bios, are the marketing giants that are controlling sales phenomenally – and you can bet we’re following them around and taking notes. We love to watch them, watch their families, watch what they’re wearing, watch what they’re eating, we’re constantly and unconsciouslly absorbing everything they're filming and snapping our way. They inspire us and the thing is, they know it. With the combination of old school celebrity endorsement concepts and present-day shareable social media content, these pseudo-marketers have driven sales, influenced a whole region, ultimately recognizing their power and creating businesses.
Personally, the amount of products I have bought as a result of “swipe up to see how I do my everyday makeup” or “super comfortable and flirty, here's what I wore to my friend’s wedding” is countless. They control the market, and they’ve perfected promotions to the point that it seems so effortless and natural that you feel like you just had a conversation with a friend, and took their recommendation of this new BB cream they got. The thing is it’s not as easy as some people would think, because literally anyone can get likes and followers. We’ve seen our fair share of quantity-over-quality online “public figures” and although they’ve started businesses, which range from clothes to beauty products, they didn’t amount to what they hoped they would. It takes personality and character, you need to have niche, an edge, because customers are smart, and with our embarrassing 9-second attention span, we’re hard to catch.
However, these following women did not only catch our attention, but our hearts as well. Building high-impact relationships with customers isn't a walk in the park, I'm not going to listen to you one bit if you don't create change in my life. Authenticity comes a long way, and paired with hard work and charm, these individuals are not only successful businesswomen, but are the inspiring females that teach us about life, confidence, work ethic, and exhibit Arab woman spunk that is so endearing and prideful to watch.
Huda Al Kattan, founder of Huda Beauty
Image via @HudaBeauty Instagram
The legend herself, Iraqi-American Huda Al Kattan will soon have books written about her for Influencer Marketing courses. Real to the core and charismatic, Al Kattan started out as a blogger and was even among the pioneers in the region, and now in our present day, sits on a billion dollar cosmetics business.
Dubai-based Kattan does not only sell exemplary makeup products - Trophy Wife never leaves my purse – but also manages to connect with her audience. How she talks about her personal experience of growing up Arab, how she transformed her vulnerabilities into strengths, and her relationships with the people around her digitally and physically, is what creates that trusted connection, which eventually became a fully-fledged business.
#Repost @hudakattan Eeeek!! before I knew what I was doing! OMG! My makeup was a mess here and yes this was pre-nose job! For everyone wondering I didn’t get a nose job because I didn’t like my looks! I wasn’t the cutest child, but by the time I hit high school, I thought I was cute! It wasn’t until I became a beauty blogger that I became soooo self conscious! I actually feel that being a beauty blogger can sometimes be tough on your confidence and being in front of the camera so much is honestly unhealthy! It’s so important to remember the camera sees things that humans don’t and you are without doubt 1,000,000X more beautiful than you think
Authenticity comes a long way, and this brilliant woman is the epitome of it.
Lana El Sahely, founder of L’armoire de Lana
Image via @lanaelsahely Instagram
What was once a blog, is now an e-shop and a magazine. One of the region’s international key players, Lana El Sahely defines entrepreneurship at its most fashionable level. What distinguishes the Lebanese tycoon-in-progress from the rest of the influencers is her work ethic, this woman's drive cuts through like a bulldozer. When she covers fashion week, she covers fashion week in all its glory. Mini episodes, fashion show reviews, a step-by-step guide of her everyday looks, all while putting her entire heart into it. There is nothing we respect more than a hard-working woman reaching the top.
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Even when she’s showing us recipes for Zaydo or just chilling makeup free, El Sahely knows business, period. Her collaborations often sell out as do her workshops, and she's considered to be a favorite by some of the high-end brands. Sahely is one of the idols in making, we can sense it.
Nathalie Basma, founder and owner of natbasma.com
This incredible Lebanese woman that does not only give you an amazing body, but also infuses your confidence, self-worth, and dishes it to you exactly like it is. Other than being good at what she does, Nathalie is a life coach, which translates amazingly into her fiery, outspoken, and humorous personality. She will never sugar-coat anything to you, and that is what defines her from the rest of the nutritionists in the business. Especially in the Middle East and the Gulf region, where a portion of people are used to a spoon-feeding culture, Nathalie completely shatters that. When she sells you the concept of willpower, you buy into it immediately, because she's a living example of it.
Nathalie’s weight loss transformation
Who doesn’t want to seek nutrition and health tips from the ultimate success weight-loss story herself? The Kuwait-based super nutrition and health specialist has different packages you can choose from, and many customer testimonials to check out her work for yourself.
Ola Farahat, co-founder of OwnTheLooks
Fun and relatable, Ola is not one of those bloggers whose life seems so far-fetched and unattainable. We love her energy, her makeup tutorials featuring her shoe closet in the background, and her all-in-all feel-good feed. It's never serious and it's almost always entertaining. You'll want to wear anything she's wearing, why? Because it's effortless, approachable, and uber-trendy. The cool thing about the Palestinian blogger is her adventurous styling whims; straw bags, Puma shirts on red carpets, big hair, vintage Prada slides, and feathers all around.
The Dubai-based influencer is the co-founder of ownthelooks.com, a website that combines shopping and blogging, with curated influencer collections and everything from Hijab to Luxe style. You'll find afforadable and contemporary pieces suitable for every occasion.
Karen Wazen, founder of Karen Wazen Eyewear
image via @Karenwazenb Instagram
If you don’t have Karen Wazen on your feed, get to it as soon as possible. The Dubai-based blogger-turned-entrepreneur is fashionable, edgy, and will soon be dominating retail stores around you. She's already being asked to speak at Ivy League universities, as she'll be a part of the Arab Conference at Harvard in April, so can you imagine what the rest of her journey will be like?
Other than the adorable Karlie, Kay, and Georgie snippets, the Lebanese beauty might just be on her way to fashion stardom. Her style is impeccable, and her first venture into the design world is Karen Wazen Eyewear that consists of a retro yet futuristic collection of sunglasses. She has a particular sense of style that I would describe as avant-garde 80s, I mean can anyone pull off mega shoulder pads like she does?
image via @fozaza Twitter
This Saudi YouTube sensation started out her jump into entrepreneurship with Lady Fozaza blazers, which are both elegant and sexy. She has great sense of style, she's a huge advocate of all things fit and healthy, and she started out more than a decade ago. Badr's savvy skills made her leap from success to success. Even before influencer product placement was a thing, she was already doing it in 2011. "Kim Kardashian was being interviewed by an editor who was wearing my blazer. She insisted that the editor call me and ask to be sent some! The next thing I know, both she and Khloé are spotted wearing them," she explained about one of her success stories.
Think successful woman walking down the street to a presentation that will close a multi-million dollar deal - what is this woman wearing? A Lady Fozaza suit. Staying true to her brand, her Instagram content style is exactly what we imagine her designs to be.
Thana and Sakhaa Abdul, founders of Coded Nation
image via graziame.com
So effortless and so cool; these Saudi-British twins Thana and Sakhaa are one of our favorite style inspirations.
Had the honour last night of being @bicestervillage guest at the Arab women of the year awards and witnessing truly inspirational women getting the recognition they truly deserve for paving the way for the next generation. Thank you for being such great role models to look up to!
They founded Coded Nation as a business project for school, but then they sold out in under 12 hours, and that’s when the real business prospect came to life.
They launched Kids of Arabia this past summer, and honestly, it’s all we’ve ever wanted to wear. Catering to millennials whose aesthetic is oversized hoodies and a smize, Coded Nation is a culture in and of itself.
Ascia Al Faraj, founder of Desert Baby
Mother of two, Kuwaiti-American Ascia is considered to be one of the most influential social media personalities in the region. If her modest fashion style pulls her into the same pool of influencers around her, her nose ring, tattoos, predilection for assymetrical and standing out looks makes her rise on top.
In addition to having a unique and much sought after semblance, her love of all things organic and wanting to provide a healthy life for her children are constantly expressed in several ways on her platform.
Consequently, Desert Baby came to life in 2015; a Kuwaiti-born brand that produces high-quality ring slings, organizers, and vegetable dyed Italian leather shoes for newborns to 18 months.