Mona Kattan is one busy lady. The global president for Huda Beauty has just jetted in from LA to allow MOJEH into her home for our interview, and as we pull up outside her sprawling villa on the Palm Jumeirah, we realise we’re not Mona’s only guests. Five cars and two vans are parked outside her house, the latter packed with a Facebook film crew busy carrying equipment to and from their vehicles, while various other very preoccupied-looking people pace the pavement outside, chatting animatedly into their phones. Seemingly, there’s a lot going on Chez Kattan this morning – but as we are welcomed inside, it appears this is just a regular working day for the beauty business mogul.
“Come on in! Sorry it’s so hectic,” shouts Mona over the hum of a hairdryer as we make our way into the vast, open-plan kitchen. With a table full of Huda Beauty tech boffins on one side of the room, her PA and PR manager deep in conversation on a pair of sofas in the corner, and surrounded by her glam team as she taps away on a laptop while hair and make-up are simultaneously done, one would imagine that being Mona Kattan requires an ability to multitask on a level that would befuddle even the most adept of career-jugglers. Currently filming the second season of Huda Boss for their YouTube channel; in the midst of a wave of new Huda Beauty product launches; scheduling summer travel arrangements, and in the early stages of planning her wedding, Mona’s life is hurtling along at break-neck speed. But despite the constant madness, the 33-year-old seems unphased by the endless hustle that comes with being part of one of the biggest beauty brands in the world right now.
“We’ve lived here for about 18 months. But we moved at almost exactly the same time as when we got the big investors for Huda Beauty, and then everything changed – we started filming the show, the business underwent rapid developments, it was just craziness on every level,” explains Mona. “Overnight, my life accelerated tenfold. So I haven’t had time yet to really organise the house. But I’m getting there. Just don’t go in my bedroom!”
Despite her protestations, Mona’s home looks pretty great to us. Perched on the beach at the end of one of the Palm Jumeirah’s fronds, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the space with natural light, modern, neutral furnishings offset huge statement artworks that adorn almost every wall. “I like my space to feel exciting. When you walk into the house, I want people to feel inspired and energised.” Revealing she’s barely bought anything new for her latest home, or made any structural changes, Mona intends to fully renovate the property once she has a little more free time. “I’ve waited for a long time to do anything here because I was unsure of what I wanted, and I didn’t want to just jump into something,” she explains. “But first of all, I’d like to build a cabana on the beach. We spend so much time outside in the cooler months, it would be a great thing to invest in and would make a wonderful addition to the house.”
With splashes of vivid colour, dynamic artworks and plenty of glamour anchoring the decor, the feeling of positive energy that permeates is undeniable. “I love art, and the pieces I have in my home are very special,” says Mona of her collection. “One of the first pieces I bought was the Ride Fast painting that hangs behind the pool table. I bought it as you see it now, but when I got it into the house, I thought, ‘This is probably not the best message to send myself every day, because I’m already moving at 1,000 miles per hour.’ I felt I needed something that was going to balance that message out, so I commissioned Ride Slow, with a unicorn being ridden by Jasmine and Aladdin, my two favourite Disney characters. For me, that was key, because it was the first time I basically slapped myself in the face and went, ‘Hold on. You need balance. Stop chasing work, stop chasing everything. But if you must, chase love, chase the equilibrium, chase happiness, chase the unicorn. Chase the fairytale to balance out your life.’”
Conversely, her other most-treasured commission is a tribute to the real-life individuals who have motivated her to succeed. “The Tony Robbins painting is really important to me,” she says of the piece that hangs in the library area of her living room. “Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama – they’ve all been a huge inspiration. But Tony Robbins was a life-changer. I started reading his books when I was 14 years old, and he felt like my mentor, like a big brother who I grew up with. He genuinely changed my life. When I started reading his books, I began setting goals and looking at things differently. If it wasn’t for Tony Robbins, I’d probably be a very different person, and wouldn’t be where I am right now. I look up to him a lot.”
With the ground floor split into five key areas – the kitchen/ dining room; one relaxed lounging area; one more formal; a reading nook, and a games area complete with hot pink pool table and a gold and silver fussball table, the lounge by the piano is visually her favourite space in the house. “I like how clean and uncluttered it is. I feel very calm here,” she muses, sinking into a faux cream sheepskin chair. “But my taste in general is quite buzzy and fun. Like the pink pool table, the acrylic piano, the paintings. I like colour. I like gold. I like acrylic. I like pop art. I like bling. I like my home to feel fresh and eclectic, with pieces collected from all over the world.”
As far as her favourite room in the house is concerned, however, there is no contest. “The product room of course!” she laughs. An entire room dedicated to Mona’s self-confessed addiction to perfume and make-up, the meticulously organised space is home to her huge collection of fragrances – which currently stands at around 1,500 bottles – and thousands of cosmetics. “It’s basically a trap. I go in there to grab a lipstick, and I don’t come out for three hours. I end up spraying myself with a bunch of different perfumes and trying on lots of make-up. Then I start re organising things, and lose my head, and before I know it, it’s 9.30 and I have to go to bed! So when I go in, I try and do it really fast. But sometimes, resistance is futile. It just sucks me in, and someone has to drag me out.”
Mona’s passion for perfume, however, hasn’t gone to waste. Indeed, her love of fragrance inspired one of the latest arms of the Huda Beauty business – Kayali – which translates from Arabic as ‘My Imagination’ and was launched to critical acclaim at the end of last year. “Watching the Kayali brand grow is such a personal achievement for me, because I’ve. always wanted to launch a perfume, and because of how Huda Beauty has developed, it’s allowed me to fulfil one of my lifelong ambitions,” says Mona, as she layers us in three of the scents from her debut, four-piece line. “When I was younger, I wanted to be in beauty, or fashion, or be a doctor – basically to be a creative, or help people – but I ended up in finance. I was so into it too. I wore a power suit to work every day, and I was so serious about my job. But my soul was dying.”
And much like Mona credits Tony Robbins for changing her life, helping her focus on achieving her childhood beauty business dreams, had she continued as a banker, she feels the place she calls home would look very different too. “My career choice has definitely inspired the interiors here,” she reflects. “Beauty is all about creativity, and thinking without barriers. The industry I’m in is so inspiring that you think without limitations, and focus on colour and texture and mood. I feel I’m now exposed to a lot more fun, creative and inspiring things than I ever was before. If I’d stayed in banking, I’m pretty sure my home would look very different to how it does now.”
As befits a woman absorbed in the beauty world, it makes sense Mona’s house boasts its own spa and gym – where she works out at 6.30am every day with her personal trainer. “It’s a real treat to have that in the basement,” she says. “I try and get into the spa for a weekly massage, and I love the fact I can get my hair washed properly at home in this teeny salon.” Dubbing her house “a work in progress” Mona intends to keep a base in Dubai, but plans to have homes in both the US and the UK as the Huda Beauty empire grows. “I definitely want to be based in LA, and have more of a global presence,” she reveals. “We spend between two to three months of the year in LA anyway, because I love it there, but I’d like to have a place in London. Having a global perspective really opens up your creativity, and opens your mind. You see the world so differently. Saying that, I’d love a place where I could totally switch off from work, like Bali or Thailand or Jamaica.” Nodding to the paintings above her pool table as if to remind herself of her work-life balance mantra, she laughs, “Ride fast, ride slow, right?”
- Words by Lucy Wildman