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BoF Exclusive | Huda Kattan to Forgo Salary for the Year Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Kattan’s family members linked to the business will also be forgoing their wages for the rest of 2020.
Huda, Mona and Alya Kattan | Source: Courtesy
By
  • Zoe Suen

LONDON, United Kingdom — Huda Kattan, the founder and chief executive of cosmetics brand Huda Beauty, will forgo her salary until the end of the year to protect her employees as the pandemic puts pressure on companies around the world to layoff and furlough their workers.

Kattan's family members linked to the business, including the brand's Co-Founder and Global President Mona Kattan, Chief Operating Officer Chris Goncalo (Kattan's husband) will also be forgoing their wages for the remainder of the year.

Exposed to travel retail channels and discretionary product categories, beauty brands have been forced to cut costs. Back in February, even before outbreaks of the virus had escalated in Europe and the US, Estée Lauder cited a decline in mainland China for a cut to its profit forecast for the 2020 fiscal year. Last week, Sephora laid off over 3,000 employees in the US who worked limited hours.

“Our employees are, and always have been at the heart of everything that we do here at Huda Beauty,” Kattan wrote in an email. “We’re a family business and we consider each and every member of our team to be a part of our family.”

The company, which Kattan founded in 2013 and valued at $1.2 billion as of 2019, currently employs 267 employees globally. The business became profitable in 2017, the same year private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners made a $200 million investment for a 16 percent stake. Kattan currently owns 51 percent of the business, with the rest owned by her family or set aside for an employee option pool.

Today on #BoFLIVE, the beauty influencer-turned-entrepreneur joined BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed to discuss how she is coping through the pandemic. “It’s hard as a business… I just can’t even think about selling products right now,” said Kattan, noting that multiple Huda Beauty centres have closed and its makeup launches delayed in the wake of government-imposed lockdowns.

Additionally, Huda Beauty has donated $1,000 to 100 individual make-up artists as self-isolation measures hit hands-on beauty creatives particularly hard. "I was a make up artist," said Kattan. "I was living job to job… what if I had my daughter at that time and I was alone? What would I do for food, what would I do for rent?"

Other executives across the industry have opted to forgo their salaries to minimise the impact Covid-19 will make on their workforces. Ralph Lauren will forgo his pay for the 2021 fiscal year while PVH Corp Chief Executive Emanuel Chirico and Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Geoffroy van Raemdonck will also be freezing their salaries for the time being.

But the crisis’ already unprecedented disruption of global markets, supply chains, consumer demand and workers means that businesses big and small are bracing for the worst.

“I’m hoping that as a company we come out closer,” said Kattan. “Financially I don’t know what that means, but I’m [more] concerned with the team right now. I know that the finances will come along... hopefully.”

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