Real Cosmetics Company CEO Lubna Khalid
In today’s world, beauty is often narrowly defined. Women who can’t relate to the celebrated ideals found in popular culture can feel isolated and alienated. That’s where Lubna Khalid comes in. When she grew frustrated by the lack of cosmetics for her skin tone and the limited range of beauty images in the world, she founded Real Cosmetics. The company aims to transcend race, face, and place by offering beauty products to women of all ethnicities. It also seeks to expand and diversify the standards of ideal beauty. As CEO, Lubna has managed everything from marketing to product development to customer relations. The line of products has sold into boutiques, salons, spas, and places such as Nordstrom and Sephora. In this week’s Young & Professional profile, learn more about how Lubna Khalid is helping women enhance their appearance and self-esteem through all-inclusive cosmetics and a new view of ideal beauty.
Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn, New York
BS in Business Administration
Special Emphasis: International Business
Minor: Ethnic Studies
Real Cosmetics, Inc.
Director of Marketing
L’oreal Paris Division, L’oreal USA
July 2005-August 2006
Account Manager Dental –Customer Business Development
Procter & Gamble
January 1998-January 2000
October 2001-December 2002
Tilt, Club DV8
June 1993-December 1995
City Model Management, San Francisco and Fam Model Management, Paris
May 1990-December 1998
About the company
In a culture where “ideal beauty” is narrowly defined and portrayed, the majority of people who don’t fit this ideal feel alienated, unable to relate to typical beauty icons featured in popular media.
Thus launched was Real Cosmetics, a cosmetic brand committed to empowerment through personal enhancement and diversity of beauty ideals.
Real Cosmetics’ mission is to transcend race, face and place by bringing beauty and empowerment to every ethnic derivation. The brand seeks not only to enhance individual appearance and self-esteem, but to open eyes, hearts and minds everywhere to a new view of iconic beauty: diversified, enlightened, all-encompassing, and very real.
Beauty Without Boundaries
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
My responsibilities as CEO include:
- Personal responsibility for creating the marketing and product development plan of the company and executing it from concept to shelf which included: branding, supplier relations, color development, packaging development and ensuring timely delivery of top quality products.
- Responsible for company concept, marketing (branding, PR, trade shows, etc.), operations, sales (planning, forecasting, etc.), supplier and customer relations, product development, accounting, and managing a team of sales, marketing, web and product development staff.
- Sold the line in boutiques, salons and spas as well as key accounts such as: Nordstrom, Nordstrom.com, Sephora, Sephora.com and QVC, while maintaining buyer relationships.
- Spokesperson for company with extensive experience in public speaking as well as interviewing with editors for editorial and TV.
- Managed staff of 20 direct reports.
Most notable milestones
Launching the line in Nordstrom Department Stores and Sephora.
What’s the niche?
All-encompassing in its philosophy and practices, Real Cosmetics not only offers a global spectrum of makeup created on real women, but features images of real women – each unique, each beautiful.
An all-inclusive range of colors with four true-color undertones, ensuring make-up that looks “real” on every skin tone. Real Cosmetics offers products that finally work on all skin tones – South Asian included!
What’s the biggest challenge?
Running a cosmetics business and competing with the large companies such as Estee Lauder and L’oreal.
What’s in store for the future?
As I mentioned, I am selling Real Cosmetics to a buyer who has the funding and energy to take this to the next level. The market is so hot for multicultural cosmetics brands right now, so the timing is great. I am also looking to start a travel agency – more on that later!
About your career as a film-maker
After 9/11, I produced a documentary called “Haters” which spoke to the demonization of Muslims and anyone who looked Muslim. It also spoke to all of the hate crimes and how there is always a group in the United States (Japanese Americans during World War II, African Americans all the time) who are created as the “other” and used as the enemy.
The documentary was chosen to be shown at the Asian American Film Festival in 2002.
Best way to keep a competitive edge
Stay ahead of trends, stay close to the consumer and follow your passions.
Guiding principle in life
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you have imagined.
Yardstick of success
Goal yet to be achieved
My goal is to sell Real Cosmetics and see it flourish in the right buyer’s hands. I believe this brand can be really huge.
Best practical advice
Do what you love, always. For your intuition and your passion. You can create any life you want.
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your ventures
My mom was always so supportive. She told me I could do anything I wanted and also invested in the business. I couldn’t have come this far without her.
Mom. She is strong and passionate and I get that from her.
What motivated you to get started?
I felt a frustration with the lack of cosmetics options for my skin tone as well as the limitation of diverse beauty images in the market.
Like best about what you do?
Having my own schedule. Having the freedom to create anything I want. The sky is the limit.
Like least about what you do?
Long hours, stress sometimes, etc.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A doctor – at least until I was in an Advanced Placement Physiology class in high school. The teacher pulled a human cadaver out of the closet for us to dissect that day. I turned pale white and said “Ah – Professor Lasnik…”
He said, “Lubna, go to the nurse.” That was the end of that dream!
What was your first job?
Working at my dad’s Subway restaurant.
Biggest pastime outside of work
Travel is my passion. I love to meet people, see how people live and learn new cultures. It opens my eyes, humbles me and makes me grow spiritually.
Person most interested in meeting
Dalai Lama. He lives in peace and compassion and spreads that around the world.
Leader in business most interested in meeting
Richard Branson of Virgin. I think he is brilliant, dynamic and lives his life to the fullest.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I speak 6 languages.
- I have an adopted son.
- I have visited 30 countries.
Three characteristics that describe you
Three greatest passions
- Women’s Empowerment
- World Cuisine
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
Empowerment of women worldwide.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
Potential buyers who are interested in acquiring Real Cosmetics.
Anyone who is interested in having me as a marketing consultant in multicultural marketing.
Interview by Sheena Singh
Introduction by Preeti Aroon
Edited by Valerie Enriquez