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Afiya Khalid: A Personal Grooming Entrepreneur

When Afiya Khalid’s childhood interest in becoming a make-up artist began to mature in her teenage years, she practiced her techniques on her family, friends and neighbors. That was as a 16-year-old, and although her make-up and henna creations helped her win the support of her family to pursue her dream job, it was another decade before the Emirati made the move. Instead she took a traditional career path, entering the banking industry after leaving school, and spending the past 16 years working as a senior product manager. In 2008, Ms Khalid decided to go back to class. She graduated from a six-month course at the Makeup For Ever Academy in Paris, where she learnt how to transform any face into picture-perfect. “Before I went to the institute I didn’t know what’s the perfect shape for a face,” says Ms Khalid, now 34. “Now I know how to control the nose, for instance, and can do make-up for all kinds of faces and eyes.” However, it wasn’t until May this year that she finally decided to turn her hobby into a business venture, launching her eponymous enterprise in Dubai via a business licence called Intilaq for Emirati entrepreneurs. Ms Khalid is among a growing number of entrepreneurs entering the personal grooming segment as spending power and demand for beauty products in the region grows. The market for beauty and personal care products in the Middle East and Africa is expected to grow to more than US$30 billion by 2018, according to Euromonitor International. Last year, it was $24.2bn. To enter the arena, Ms Khalid invested about Dh100,000 in her business, with most of it going toward products, marketing and her website. “If you want to have a business believe in your idea and don’t take too much time, just do it,” says Ms Khalid. “And don’t be afraid of failing, you learn [through it].” Now that she has to juggle a demanding career in a bank and her business, she says she has quickly adapted to her new regime. She wakes up at 6am and drops her five-year-old daughter off at a day care centre to make it to her office in time for client meetings. While she does not finish her working day until 6pm, she says most of her make-up appointments are on weekends, often running from 4pm until 8.30pm. “If you do something that you enjoy, you don’t feel tired,” she says. Since her launch Ms Khalid has worked with catwalk models for fashion events, bridal parties for weddings and on television commercials for make-up companies. She has a team of freelance hair stylists whom she engages when required, for instance during wedding assignments. Her bookings now come through referrals and social media, and she says the diversity of faces that she works with in the UAE is part of the fun. “Each woman gets the make-up that suits her and it’s about different cultures,” she says. For instance, she says, at European weddings the make-up is geared towards natural shades as the event is usually outdoors, while the Khaleeji colour palettes tend to be stronger with hard eyelines as the weddings are indoors under bright lights. The Asian bridal make-up veers towards a combination of European and Arabic trends with medium colours and no hard lines. The age range of her clients is between 20 and 50, with prices ranging from Dh800 to Dh5,000, depending on the occasion and make-up technique required. Ms Khalid adds that the fun of being a mobile make-up artist also comes from the fact she makes a 100 per cent profit from her work, after her costs for make-up products. And as the business grows, the entrepreneur would like to have her own team of make-up artists. “And maybe my own branch in the future,” she adds.

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