The Halal Makeup Brand: Q&A with Amira Geneid, Co-Founder and CEO at Zahara

“I went to Silicon Valley to take part in an entrepreneurship program under famed Venture Capitalist Tim Draper. The program really inspired me and gave me the confidence to take the leap with Zahara.” -Amira Geneid

It  all started when my Amira and her sister Alia couldn’t find a Halal makeup brand that met their needs as Muslim women. With that in mind they worked day and night for years to combine faith and beauty into the perfect makeup line.

High performance, check. High quality, check. Halal, check. Gorgeous, double check. Both working tirelessly to cover all the bases!

LadyBoss spoke to the Amira about Zahara and her Silicon Valley experience!

Q: Tell us about Zahara. How it started and how long you’ve been doing it? Currently how big is your team?

A: Zahara is a luxury halal cosmetics brand and we sell our products online at www.zahara.com. It started because my sister and I couldn’t find a halal cosmetics brand that appealed to us, we felt that there was nothing on the market that we would give up MAC for. After that I became obsessed with building the best, truly world-class halal cosmetics brand, and that’s what I’m working on right now. Currently we are a team of 4 but we are actively looking for other makeup-obsessed ladies to join our ranks.

Q: What sparked your interest in entrepreneurship? 

A: My parents are both entrepreneurs and I’ve always admired their work and dedication. They always made me feel like I could achieve anything, so when this issue came up I thought ‘Hey, why don’t I just build the dream halal cosmetics brand I’ve been looking for?”.

Q: What were you doing before entrepreneurship? Tell us about your background and how it helps you with what you are doing now?  

A: Before Zahara I spent some time in the marketing department of Luxola (which has now been turned into Sephora SE Asia), and after that I went to Silicon Valley to take part in an entrepreneurship program under famed Venture Capitalist Tim Draper. The program really inspired me and gave me the confidence to take the leap with Zahara.

Q: What are your best-selling products? Any plans to launch other product line? 

A: Our #ladyboss nail polish has been a star product from the beginning. Over the first year we did struggle trying to keep up with demand, but thankfully that was a good problem to have! We are launching Mascaras next month, so keep a look out for that! Our Daredevil Lashes will be halal and highly pigmented for the perfect thick, black lashes.

My dream is that Zahara will one day be the world’s leading Halal cosmetics brand, I want to bring a level of luxury and quality that will make all my sisters proud.

Q: What makes Zahara different from other retailers that we know? 

A: We pride ourselves on being really in touch with our Warriors. I believe in selling sister to sister, because these are the ladies that I am building this brand for.

Q: How do you maintain quality and product offerings to your customers?

Everything undergoes extensive R&D before we settle on a formula. Aside from the standard quality control proceedings in our factory I personally test everything! Every product, every shade, every iteration. I even get my friends to try them out too for feedback.

Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your customers, and what works?     

A: We’ve relied mostly on word-of-mouth and social media to get our name out. In the past, we’ve let ourselves grow organically, but we are now developing strategies to invest in our growth and those methods include SEO, SEM and sponsored posts on FB and Instagram.

Q: Where do you see the future of Zahara? 

A: My dream is that Zahara will one day be the world’s leading Halal cosmetics brand, I want to bring a level of luxury and quality that will make all my sisters proud.

Q: Tell us about your Number 1 business challenge?   

A: Logistics has always been a challenge, and as we expand into Malaysia we are trying to figure out the most effective way to serve our sisters faster and better. This is crucial in this day and age, and it can be really challenging to keep up with bigger sellers with huge logistics and distribution chains.

Q: As an entrepreneur, what motivates you personally?  

A: As I mentioned above, I really do this for my friends, my sisters and other ladies out there looking for great halal cosmetics. I’ve set my goal to create the best brand possible for them and that’s what drives me.

Q: What would be your advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs?

A: A business is like a baby, it’ll take over your entire life. It’s so important to make sure that when you are making that commitment you are doing something that you are willing to live and breathe. You will absolutely need that passion to make it through the long days when you’re not even sure what the heck you’re doing (it’s ok, none of us do) and the inevitable bumps and challenges that will come along. Good luck!

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