‘The only thing Pakistani about my brand is me.’ Explains Nabila. The hugely successful make-up artist and hair stylist has been working in the beauty industry for 32 years. Making a huge name for herself in her native Pakistan, she has worked on movies, with celebrities, on fashion shoots, and now even has her own chain of beauty salons and almost half a million followers on social media. Last year Nabila launched her own make-up line Zero Makeup. She began the brand with just one product – the Face perfecting palette – an all-inclusive palette, which incorporates all the make-up essentials women need into one handy product.
After launching in Pakistan last August, Nabila made the decision to bring her brand to the UAE and it is now stocked exclusively at Bloomingdale’s Dubai (Dh180). However, launching in the UAE is only just the beginning. Nabila explains. ‘After Dubai, we plan on going to Europe then the rest of the world.’ What makes Nabila’s product even more attractive is the fact that it is an ethical buy. ‘Our product is not tested on animals and I work to ensure my product is produced in the best possible environment. So there is no child labour, no poor working conditions. We are a very transparent company.’
Nabila is very clear that she considers her brand to be global; ‘My distribution hub is in the Middle East, design was done in Barcelona and production in Germany, packaging from Taiwan, so we have aspects of many countries within the brand.’ With that in mind, Nabila wants to conquer the world with her brand by the end of this year. ‘I am working on a brand extension – so more products, and more countries.’
Her passion and drive for her brand is clear and it’s not surprising as it has been a long time in the making. ‘I’ve been working as a make-up artist for 32 years on movies, fashion shoots and many different things including my own chain of salons. I just thought that I want to leverage the credibility I have built by moving into retail. It seemed like a natural progression to help people with a product that is going to provide solutions. The brand is a unique combination of my hands-on experience and the knowledge I have gained from being a make-up artist. I think I can put together solutions in a very efficient way.’
The beauty industry in Pakistan is a growing one. ‘In Pakistan my brand promotes understated, natural make-up,’ explains Nabila. ‘It’s very similar [to the UAE] I must say. I think the main difference is that in the UAE people have more time, money and more products available. Sometimes I feel that their make-up can be a little too much. In Pakistan however I think the make-up is more subtle. I was taught that if someone says to you “wow I love your make-up” then your make-up is too much.
And with that objective in mind, Nabila developed her make-up palette. Releasing only one product at the launch of a brand is an unusual strategy but Nabila is confident it is the right strategy for her. ‘My product provides a solution for busy women. Working women, mums, the really women of today and I think that is why it will be successful. Women don’t need something that is going to make them look overly made-up. I think I know what they need and that is what I’m trying to provide.’
The palette currently comes in six shades, but Nabila has plans to launch one more darker shade when launching in the African market later this year. ‘Seven shades is all you need. I know some make-up brands are launching up to 40 shades but for my palette it is not necessary. All women can go one shade darker or lighter with my product if they want to – there is a colour for every woman.’
The palette is just the beginning, explains Nabila, ‘I am going to come up with other ideas soon. I don’t want to make something unique, something efficient and time-saving – a smart product. I have a few ideas in the pipeline.’
While we wait to find out what the new ideas are, Nabila will set off on her world tour with her chosen face of the brand Tammin Sursok. ‘I feel that she represents the Zero girl. She’s young, responsible, global and she’s also a working mum. Her life means she needs to look glamorous but is busy and doesn’t have much time. All of the things that I, and my company stand for she does too, so she’s the perfect woman for it. I aim at women who have their own individual style, which Tammin does. She doesn’t want to look like somebody else and she is confident in her own skin.’
One fascinating thing about Nabila is watching her at work. It’s a given that she comes across as an expert in her field but what is interesting is her unusual technique. Nabila creates her own products using various brands of make-up and cream. ‘The reason why I do that is because I can’t find anything available on the market that is good enough.’ She explains as she smothers a unique body make-up onto Tammin’s skin just before she gets in front of the camera.
‘I developed a cream that is like a body make-up that isn’t obvious to be used on the whole body. So what I did was mix a number of products to create something unique. Your interest in it tells me it’s something I should do more of!’ And we suppose that’s exactly how she got to where she is now.