Women in Beauty: The Middle East & Africa

We recently shared a post praising 10 powerful women behind beauty empires, but these women were mostly based in the US. And along with our patriotic appreciation, we thought it was about time to draw attention to the women running things in the beauty industry worldwide — more specifically in Africa and the Middle East. These women have harnessed their skills and knowledge in order to launch makeup and skincare brands, distribution companies, and even beauty blogs. The Middle Eastern and African markets tend to be more inclusive, so these women are viewed as innovators in the beauty community. These brands and the women who run them are meeting and exceeding the female shopper's needs and wants internationally.

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 1.jpg

credit Lysaafrica

Not only are these #bossladies entrepreneurs, but they are an inspiration to every woman who has hesitated, second guessed, or doubted their potential. When women launch businesses that caters towards other women, the beauty community is happy, and companies themselves are founded in honesty, passion, and an overall success. Self-care is rooted in the culture of these countries, investing in beauty is, therefore, a vital part of Middle Eastern and African women’s daily routine. But splurging on brands from the US and other nations can be expensive, and even questionable. Rather these women have become pioneers in the beauty industry, taking it by storm, and impressing the hell out of us as they do so.

Terry Mungai, Kenya

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 2.jpg

credit SDE

Terry Mungai from Kenya, founded Ashleys Kenya. The company began as a beauty brand, and quickly grew to offer business training, so that her hires would be more qualified. She now overlooks three training centers, where students can receive beauty education to take out into the world. But Terry doesn’t stop there. Ashleys Kenya is also the holder of Miss World Kenya. Terry continues to grow her business, and has said she will not stop until Ashleys is in all 47 counties in Kenya.

Sarah, Nora and Dana Al-Ramadhan, Kuwait

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 4.jpg

credit Al Ostoura

Middle Eastern sisters, Sarah, Nora and Dana Al-Ramadhan are from Kuwait, and are running Apotheca Beauty. This is a beauty empire that provides consumers with niche products that were formally difficult to obtain in the Middle East. These skilled women launched Apotheca Beauty in order to supply women with the premium brands they wanted. For instance, they now represent Lime Crime, Sarah Chapman, Philip B. and more. They began by helping out a friend from Los Angeles who was looking to bring his products to Kuwait. As they researched, they realized there was a need to distribute these specialty brands. On top of becoming wildly successful entrepreneurs, they have empowered women in Kuwait to feel beautiful.

Suzie Wokabi, Kenya

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 5.jpg

credit Capital FM

Suzie Wokabi is the founder of Suzie Beauty Ltd in Kenya. In fact, Suzie Beauty was Kenya first homegrown makeup brand. Suzie felt the need to launch her own company, because the often overpriced and counterfeit brands that seemed to be so popular would reek havoc on dark skin. Due to this, she made sure her brand would not only be authentic, but also affordable. Her line is revolutionary as it is made by African women, and is meant for African women. Suzie herself trained with MAC Cosmetics, and completed a beauty certification course in LA. When she returned to Nairobi, her hometown, she saw what was lacking in the market, and dove into research to develop her own makeup line. After a successful launch, Suzie felt severe pressure to raise funds, so in early 2016 she sold Suzie Beauty to the Flame Tree Group. She is still the Chief Creative Officer and Brand Ambassador, but now feels she can focus on the parts of the business she is truly passionate about.

Rabia Ghoor, South Africa

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 6.jpg

credit BusinessLIVE

Now for a young woman who has made all our dreams come true, Rabia Ghoor is 17 years-old and the founder of the beauty brand, SwiitchBeauty. The idea for the company came to her when she was only 14, and launched it just a year later. Not only does she have a successful business to her name at such a young age, but SwiitchBeauty is considered one of the most successful beauty startups in South Africa. Her brand is mostly targeted toward millennials, and is focused on embracing inclusivity and diversity. I guess you could say she is similar to that one Jenner sister (you know who I’m talking about).

Getty Choenyana, South Africa

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 7.jpg

Getty Choenyana right credit Lionesses of Africa

Getty Choenyana began as a mechanical engineer, and has thrived as an entrepreneur. She was constantly frustrated with her mission to find natural beauty products, so she turned that thought into a business and called it Oamobu Naturals. For now, her goals are to develop more products in her line, hire more skilled recruits, and grow in popularity. But her end goal is to take Oamobu Naturals to the top by becoming the leader of natural cosmetics in South Africa. You go girl! We believe in you.

Ngozi Opara, Nigeria

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 8.jpeg

credit Clever Girl Finance

Ngozi Opara founded Heat Free Hair in 2012. She created hair extensions, closures, wigs, and more products that are made to blend perfectly with all curl patterns and textures of women’s natural hair. Her products are handmade to guarantee an ideal match and made of 100% virgin hair. That means it can be cut, colored, and styled just like your own hair. Ngozi created products to allow women to own and love their natural hair. On top of her brand, Ngozi runs the Heat Free Hair Movement. This movement focuses on educating the natural hair community with seminars, how-to videos, and events for women who wear natural hair.

Dalal AlDoub, Kuwait

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 9.png

credit @DalalID

Rather than a mogul or CEO, Dalal AlDoub is one of the most popular fashion and beauty bloggers in the Middle East. She launched her blog in 2012 by sharing posts about her personal life, her love for makeup, and then her job as an influencer took off. From blogging, Dalal started her YouTube channel to inspire women to take their beauty into their own hands. And throughout it all, Dalal’s main focus has been to empower women in the region, and grow her voice to reach as many women as she can with her positive messages.

Leslie Okoye, Nigeria

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 10.jpg

credit Leila Fowler

"Since the 1920's the word 'cookie' has come to mean more than a small sweet cake. Cookie also refers to 'an alluring woman', a woman who is appealing, attractive, beautiful, desirable, tempting, glamorous, fascinating and charming." Leslie Okoye is the founder of Cookie Skin in Nigeria. Her aim has always been to help women discover the beauty in their skin. She also intends to redefine skincare for African women, so that they, too, can believe that it doesn’t matter where you are from, or what your skin color is, you can still be beautiful. Cookie Skin products are made of natural ingredients such as milk and fruit acids to provide women with a graceful aging process.

Sheikha Fatima Al Sabah, Kuwait

Women in Beauty - The Middle East & Africa - OPENLETR 11.jpg

credit Emirates Woman

Sheikha Fatima Al Sabah is one of the co-founders of Prismologie. She partnered with her mother to supply women with a unique body care range. Since 2015, Prismologie has been available in the UK, Hong Kong, and Kuwait. With a strong focus on recyclability and sustainability, the brand passion for community shines through. And as Sheikha Fatima Al Sabah is the vice chairperson and executive director of Kuwait first animal welfare society, the brand is also cruelty-free. This beauty and wellness line is meant to alter your mood, and enhance your life through colors. Each color offers its own energy, and this mother-daughter team harness energy flowing from colors to promote happiness, relaxation, and other positive feelings.

What do all of these women have in common? Other than the fact they are all champions in the beauty community throughout the Middle East and Africa, all of these women have overcome struggles, hardships, and setbacks, but have come out with great success, power, and confidence to encourage the next generation. And as they continue to rock their empires, they influence the way beauty and women are seen. Even though women from all countries, continents, and walks of life are continuing to battle through sexism, harassment, and unequal pay, these inspirational women show us it can be done with focus, determination, and passion. And of course, we cannot forget about the all mighty, girl power!