Searching for our passion: isn’t that the goal that we all strive for! In conversation with Areej Sultan Al Essa, we discover the simplicity and honesty of a girl, the personality of an adventurer and the path leading to becoming an entrepreneur.
Areej Sultan Al Essa graduated from Kuwait University with a major in English Literature. At the time, It was the only major taught in English, and Areej admits that she was not motivated to study; her educational desires revolved around criminology and sociology, but it was not available as an option, and hence she found her college experience somehow dull. Post-university, Areej got married and moved to Boston with her ex-husband because he wanted to pursue his masters. Areej jokingly mentions that her aim at that time was to be a housewife; for the first semester, she just stayed home and leisured out all day.
Areej expresses that she yearned for something more to life! She came across a brochure for a master’s program in Criminal Justice/Substance Abuse Policy and Treatment. 1998 was a year that we had just started to learn about the drug issue in Kuwait, leading to deaths being caused by drug overdose. This was something Areej felt extremely passionate about, and she dove right in to explore and study. She completed the program; she described this period as the best two years of her life. The experiences during her internships and years of studying gave her a new perspective on life. She had found something of interest and something that could make a difference. When she moved back to Kuwait, she worked at the addiction center at Kuwait Psychological Medicine Hospital.
Areej was only 23, and she had witnessed the latest technologies and methods that could help people. Unfortunately, she couldn’t help and apply what she learned at school due to social obstacles causing unacceptance towards advanced methods of treatments. Soon after, she quit.
She yet again stayed at home (rescuing cats – we’ll get into that later), Areej found it challenging to find something she was passionate about. It is at that time in her life, she began frequenting beauty salons every 2 or 3 days, and this was when Areej stumbled into the beauty industry.
What led to the idea of K7L Cosmetics?
Every time I went to a different salon, the same skin and hair products were used every single time – it was boring and repetitive. That’s when, in 2005, I decided to start a distribution company ‘Beautylicious,’ after approaching several outlets online, and every time I contacted a company, they would send me a huge box of products to try, products that I loved! The idea just popped in my head, and I went with it; it wasn’t about the products or the money even, I just wanted to succeed in something. Beautylicious distributes beauty brands such as Image Skincare, Alterna Haircare, Oribe, Real Techniques, and Zoya across the Middle East.
When I proceeded to approach makeup brands in 2009, it just didn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be.
I decided it was time that we needed a brand that is a good fit for our Middle Eastern skin and weather. This would give light to K7L Cosmetics (K7L being a name inspired by the Arabic word Kohl). I worked relentlessly with factories and chemists to produce the products from scratch, to customize them to our specific needs. In 2014, we were ready to launch our 250 products! We had both an online platform and a physical store. We currently have over 500 products, eight different price point locations in Kuwait, we are opening another five. Also, five locations in Dubai and opening another eight. In Saudi Arabia, we are opening 10 locations.
What should we expect from K7L Cosmetics in the future?
We are getting ready to launch amazing products this fall, products I am personally proud of. It comes down to the most minute details such as the bristles on the brushes; we never use real hair here at K7L Cosmetics, we are all about cruelty-free!
Tell us about your own everyday skincare routine, we’re intrigued!
I am a young 43-year-old. I use anti-aging clinical skincare because unlike over-the-counter products, which basically touch the epidermis layer, the clinical skincare reaches the dermis layer of your skin. It’s the kind of skincare that, if used the wrong way, can harm your skin instead of treating it, so you have to be cautious. I recommend as early as the age of 27, one should begin to use clinical skincare as a preventative habit, and to maybe delay the aging process. I use a cleanser, serum, and sunblock for sure. This routine does wonder for my skin.
Apart from taking over the beauty industry, what do you like to do in your free time?
[After breaking into laughter], I did not take over the beauty industry, but I’m definitely a part of it, and I’m delighted with that. I’m a mommy for 10 cats and a 4-year-old human daughter, I also feed 20-50 street cats every day. I like to read. I love to travel, but I don’t do it as much since I’m scared of flying!
From the onset, K7L Cosmetics got a very positive reaction, and we continuously see growth. What would you advise young girls when it comes to starting their journey?
Firstly, choose something you are truly passionate about; once you’re passionate about something, it stops being a job, you don’t feel like you are going to work. Also, conducting extensive research is essential, a lot of thinking, a lot of determination, a lot of love. Enjoy it, enjoy learning, and enjoy making mistakes, it teaches you a lot! Be cautious, yes, but also love the process.