Responsible for bringing some of your favourite brands to the region such as Anastasia Beverly Hills and Philip B, Kuwaiti sisters Sarah Nora and Dana Al-Ramadhan have created nothing less than a beauty empire. Identifying a gap within the market for quality products from the world’s premium brands, the sisters share how they created the Apotheca Beauty Co. and what it’s like working together as siblings.
How did you come up with the concept behind Apotheca Beauty?
We first stumbled across distribution through a close connection in Los Angeles. A famous dermatologist wanted to distribute his products in Kuwait and asked us to help him do so. We then spent months studying the market, and although the opportunity never materialised, we realised a serious gap in the market for premium, niche beauty brands. From there, Apotheca was born.
Do you feel the region benefits from Apotheca Beauty?
Sarah: Yes, we have two standards we uphold in our company which is quality and variety – this is what we always keep in mind when bringing brands to the region.
Dana: People can now buy products they love without having to travel. We have also tried to help raise awareness about clean products and taking care of your skin.
How do you start your search for a new brand?
Sarah: Foremost, we are consumers of the beauty market ourselves. Therefore, we naturally want to bring what we use and love! Once that’s been established, we then map out what market dynamic and consumer would the brand appeal to. Finally, we then work closely with the brands themselves to make sure their philosophy and aesthetic is properly rolled out into the region.
Dana: I usually get inspired when we travel and after doing lots of research. I also try to always keep a look out for what’s in demand and trending here.
What are the top three characteristics you look for in a company or product?
We have to believe in what we promote. Therefore we take care in looking into the quality of the products. We then analyse the potential of the brand, by confirming there is a gap for it in the home market. It's important to us we keep our portfolio small and tight, so we are able to dedicate ourselves to the commitment each brand needs as opposed to bringing anything and everything.
What is your favourite beauty brand?
That’s almost impossible for us to answer since brands don’t always have a full beauty range (skincare, haircare and cosmetic lines) and we can’t use everything we need! We do have favourite specific products though.
What is the one beauty or skincare product you could not live without?
Sarah: Brow Definer, Anastasia Beverly Hills
Dana: Face Oils
Nora: Overnight Facial, Sarah Chapman
In terms of beauty, how does this region differ to others like the USA?
Arab women are largely interested in the cosmetic industry more so than, skincare for example. Yet, slowly, that’s changing as customers are more informed as well as have access to quality products. In western markets cosmetics also dominates, but skincare still makes up a heavy portion.
What does it take to build a beauty empire?
The same it would take to build any empire – big or small – a lot of hard work and time! Probably the biggest asset is to pay attention to the market – both it’s trends, as well as the playing field including both competitors and consumers. Watching how they evolve and how their needs change is also very important.
What is it like working with your sisters?
The most challenging part is surely having our boundaries – we literally never stop working! There’s always at least one of us ready to take a call, answer emails or do some research at 1a.m on a Friday or during the week. The most rewarding part is how close it brings us all together and how because we are family, we are comfortable challenging each other, therefore helping us to grow and evolve all the faster.
How do you stay motivated?
Owning your own company within itself is motivating – it is only what you put into it! But also, because we love what we do, we are constantly inspired with the products we work with as well as new ones coming out.
What inspires you?
Dana: I’ve always appreciated anything that had to do with art and creativity and I think beauty falls under that category as well. I love that something as simple as a face cream or an eyeliner can accentuate your face and make you feel more confident or better about yourself.
Nora: I have always wanted to help grow companies that I admire and thus change the way the world works. That is one of the reasons I was initially interested in investment banking and Apotheca does just that. The beauty industry is one that has been around for centuries but is still constantly evolving. People find new ways to express themselves and gain a new level of confidence, just by enhancing their natural features and I find it all very inspiring to be a part of.
Who is your beauty icon?
Sarah: Jessica Alba – I just think she’s absolutely stunning both bare-faced and fully done on a red carpet.
Dana: If I had to choose one beauty icon it would be Jennifer Lopez! She ages in reverse, it's amazing!
Do you have any hobbies?
Sarah: I enjoy playing tennis, reading and spending time with my daughter and husband.
Dana: I really enjoy travelling, cooking and working out.
What’s your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Sarah: To find something you really are passionate about and figure out how you specifically can add value to it.
Do you have a New Year’s Resolution?
Dana: I would really like to do more community service in 2017.
Nora: To travel more to new places I haven’t been!
What’s next for Apotheca Beauty?
We are excited to launch some of the brands within the next year in Morocco, Turkey and other new territories. We are also looking forward to working with our new brands that are launching. We also expanding our retail store in Kuwait and launching our website within the first quarter of 2017.
Some Of The Apotheca Brands