Huda Beauty founder Huda Kattan has announced the first brand to be supported by and mentored by her family’s investment fund HB Investments, under the group’s US$10 million female entrepreneur seeding initiative. The HB Angels incubator worked with former Huda Beauty employee, Emaan Abbass, to bring her brand to market. Specializing in women’s wellness, Ketish aims to reform the feminine care product market with its first product launching in early August 2021.
After working closely with Kattan in product development for Huda Beauty, Abbass conceptualized her own brand that was inspired by her wellness experiences. At age 21, Abbass was diagnosed with cervical cancer caused by undiagnosed HPV, with the internalized feelings of shame causing her to keep her diagnosis and recovery a secret from her American-Muslim family. After moving to Dubai and reexamining her own healthcare journey, she embraced an ideology that “replace shame and stigma with sensuality and self-love by creating a luxury experience around feminine wellness”. “There are so many unknowns and assumptions made around feminine and sexual health issues, all because we do not talk about them,” shares Abbass. “There are such heavy things that women deal with day in and day out that may make us feel ashamed to share or discuss publicly—largely because it is not normalized. I truly believe that if I had adequate education on preventative feminine healthcare or even a community which I could turn to for support without feeling this sense of shame, maybe my situation could have been avoided.”
While some may see the launch of Ketish as controversial, Abbass says that it’s time to open up a conversation about feminine intimate health. “We are fully aware of how taboo these topics are, and although they might not be received well by those who aren’t accustomed to them, we’ve tried to take everyone’s sensitivities into consideration, yet still remain true to our mission and voice,” she says. “We recognize that in order to resonate, we need to communicate in a way that feels safe for those that want to be a part of the dialogue. I am living proof of this notion that without the right education, awareness and support, it can have devastating effects.” Her plan is to release a series of products that are “super sexy, effective, and multi-beneficial”, on a spectrum ranging from targeted body care to more intimate products. “We are really taking the time to understand the needs and desires of women. We aim to create products that she needs and help her be more in tune with her body.”
For Kattan, the decision to invest in Ketish took a little convincing. The Huda Beauty and Wishful Skin founder says that when Abbass first approached her and her sister, Mona, with the concept, she was unsure if there was room for a big investment, but her former employee soon convinced her that female health was not only an expandable space but an absolute need within the industry. “The purposeful, driven brands that are here to change something is where I want to be, and Emaan and Ketish are representing all of those things,” she tells Vogue Arabia. “It’s wanting to empower women to take their power back.” Kattan says that taking a mentor position allowed her to be honest about the process of building a business. “I didn’t sugarcoat a lot of the things, and that she was seeing me at day 5000, she didn’t see me at day one or day 100 and the struggle that I went through,” explains Kattan. “Sometimes people see us where we are in our journey, and they see all the nice stuff, but they don’t see all the hardship and the struggle, and the days on end where you don’t know that you’re going to succeed. Founders sometimes do not get enough credit for all of the hardship they go through to get to a space where they finally can serve what their purpose is.” While Kattan says the HB Angels fund provided a financial cushion for Abbass to develop Ketish, she didn’t want to go easy on the newly-minted entrepreneur. “I roughed her up many times in many ways. I would feel sometimes really bad about it afterwards, I would say things are like ‘are you sure you’re ready for this? I don’t think you’re ready for it’. I would leave the meeting thinking I was so harsh to her, and I would cry! But honestly through those moments she developed, and I saw her become this really amazing woman who understood the sacrifice.”
Read Next: Why Huda Kattan is Ready to Show More Skin