A Candid Chat With Mona Kattan

There are many women with inspiring journeys leading them to success. One such story is that of Iraqi-American beauty mogul, Mona Kattan. Her journey proves to be inspirational, but her vibrant persona is what really makes her stand out. In a mere decade, the Kattan sisters – Huda, Mona and Alya – have built a beauty empire, Huda Beauty. But for Mona, it doesn’t just end there. She also went on to introduce a fragrance line, Kayali, a sub-brand of Huda Beauty.

Hira Hyder spoke to the mega talented and mega beautiful Mona Kattan, exclusively for Mashion. They talk about embracing individuality, prioritising self-care, the art of overcoming insecurities and the career tips she followed to create a place for herself in the beauty world. Keep scrolling for the full conversation:

HH: You were raised in the west, but are very much rooted in your Middle Eastern background. So many girls struggle with owning and celebrating their cultural roots. Speaking from experience, how essential it is for an individual to embrace their identity?

Mona: It’s super important to embrace who you are and your cultural roots because the only way we create anything special and original, is if we tap into who we are and what makes us unique! That’s a huge part of my fragrance brand, Kayali. It is strongly linked to my Arab roots, while still being influenced by my experiences living in the west. That’s what makes the brand so special – it’s representative of my upbringing and experiences in life. I encourage everyone to embrace their experiences, tap into them and find ways to express yourself to the best of your ability.

HH: You dreamt big and worked hard. However, taking over the world can be exhausting – how important is self-care in your routine, and what are some tips to master it?

Mona: I’ve always been into self-care and personal upkeep, but I truly got into personal wellness and managing stress about two years ago when my health took a toll. I then became obsessed with ways to manage stress and take care of myself, which can be really difficult to do at times. I did extensive research and tried many things, so I have a lot to say. But if I had to give my best advice, it would be this:

Manage Your Calendar And Know When To Say No

I heard a podcast that said ‘every decision you make should be a hell yes or a hell no.’ I’ve applied this and it is so incredibly helpful. I used to say yes to everything because I would worry about missing opportunities and would instantly get ‘fomo’. Over time, it really exhausted me and if you’re exhausted you can’t take proper care of yourself; it’s that simple. I became more protective of my schedule, my time and what I dedicate my energy to. People don’t think about time management as part of self-care, but it’s one of the most important things to consider. I am much more selective with my time now. I focus on what is important to me and do that properly. I highly recommend everyone evaluate their time and schedule. It will make everything a lot more effective.

Have Rituals

I have rituals that I break down daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly. These rituals are all things that have to do with my overall wellness and setting them as short-term goals has proven to be really helpful. To give you an idea, my daily rituals include standard things like showering, brushing your teeth, applying perfume, exercising, taking vitamins, etc. One of my favourite nighttime rituals includes listening to the sound of the ocean. I let it play the entire night to help me sleep longer and better. I also always pray 5 times a day, meditate and manifest positive things into my life. Some of my weekly rituals include doing my nails and hair twice a week. My monthly rituals can consist of anything from a facial to a full body scrub or anything else that takes a substantial amount of time. My quarterly routines are less sexy, but some of the most important rituals. Every three months, I schedule doctor’s appointments. This is to ensure that I’m up to date with blood tests, body cleanses, or anything else. It’s honestly so easy to lose sight of these things, but they are so important for our health, especially as we get older.

Journaling and Therapy

Journaling and therapy are so important, but I feel people don’t value them as much as they should. I just recently started receiving coaching sessions and it’s been so enlightening. Journaling for me has been very therapeutic and helps with reflection. I bucket my journaling practices within my overall therapy sessions and together, they’ve made such a huge difference in my overall wellness.

HH: “I am just not good enough.” This is a thought that most of us have had at some point in our lives. From insecurities about our body image, to being stuck in the ‘Rachel Green’ waitressing phase of our careers. How can self-love be practiced when one feels unlovable?

Mona: The best way to get rid of this feeling is to invest in yourself. The more you give to anything in life, the more you get in return. If you invest in yourself with things like your daily rituals, it helps you value yourself more. If you’re having a hard time getting started, don’t feel bad – we all fall into little ruts!

I would suggest starting slowly and choosing one or two things to focus on. One idea is watching a motivational video on YouTube; this is something that always works for me. I typically put them on when I need a reset or a pick-me-up. There are many great motivational speakers, but Tony Robbins is probably my favourite. Another important thing is to, appreciate and treat yourself with kindness. I have a gratitude list and everyday I write down 5 things I’m grateful for. It can be simple things, for example, “I’m grateful for having 5 fingers.” It’s amazing what writing it down, reflecting and actively appreciating the little things in life can do. Another helpful self-love practice is exercising! Turn on some fun, energetic music and dance for 10-20 minutes to quickly shift your mind – it’s so powerful and effective!

I also highly recommend The 7-Day Mental Diet. It’s a great read, which talks about being positive for 7 days and building the habit of positivity so that it becomes second nature. After reading it you’ll feel more inclined to invest in yourself – I promise!

I shared my experience working through the tough times but I also suggest that you seek professional help and consider what works best for you during these moments.

HH: It’s often said that successful individuals cannot maintain healthy relationships, but the Kattan sisters prove otherwise. What is your secret to nurturing wholesome relationships?

Mona: People are possibly the most important part of my life. I love people more than I love perfume and beauty, and I really value relationships. The most important thing in order to build good relationships is to have a genuine appreciation for the people in your life. To maintain relationships, I suggest having regular check-ins with the people closest to you. I will go as far as scheduling time to check-in with them in my calendar. I normally book idle time for myself first thing in the morning and use that time to catch up with my best friends and key family members. My other advice is communication. It’s so important to communicate with your friends so they don’t take anything personally. Let them know what you’re going through and explain when you’re overwhelmed or busy. Your true friends will understand and know that your insane schedule isn’t more important than them.

HH: As an empowered businesswoman and founder of a global brand, Kayali, what are three rules aspiring female-entrepreneurs should sacredly follow?

Mona: It’s hard to limit it to three, but if I had to choose I would say:

Always Follow Your Gut

Trust your gut. It’s much smarter than you think. It’s not just your intuition but also your subconscious mind talking. It gathers data when you’re not paying attention and then speaks to you.

Surround Yourself With Good People

An incredible support system and strong mentors are so important to have. Keep good people around you and make sure you spend time with your cheerleaders and those who wish the best for you. Their support will take you a long way!

Focus On Your Why

Don’t pay attention to competition or try to mirror what they are doing in an attempt to compete or keep up with them. Focus on your mission, your brand, your goals and your why. Of course, you’ll want to be aware of the competition so you’re not replicating what they are doing, but don’t let other people distract you. Focus on you and have the ‘infinite mindset’ as Simon Sinek calls it. If you want to create something truly meaningful, create something that will last much longer than you.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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