Huda Kattan is opening up about her childhood, the barriers she broke to be a "she-E-O" and her journey to self confidence for ET's Unfiltered series.
The beauty mogul came onto the scene in 2010, when she started her blog, Huda Beauty, after quitting her finance job to focus on her passion for makeup. Three years later, Kattan expanded into products and launched her beauty brand of the same name, which she runs with her sisters. Her Instagram account also became the number one beauty page, now boasting 36.2 million followers.
The collection first started out with false lashes and now offers a full range, including everything from eye shadow palettes to foundations to lip colors and fragrances. Kattan resides in Dubai, where Huda Beauty is based, with her husband Chris and 7-year-old daughter, Nour. She and her family currently star in the docuseries Huda Boss on Facebook Watch.
What most don't know is that Kattan is a Southern girl at heart. The Oklahoma-born daughter of Iraqi immigrants grew up in Tennessee, where she lived for over 12 years.
"It was interesting growing up there, because I was, you know, one of the only brown people in my whole entire school," Kattan told ET. "But also I wasn't in touch with my culture and my heritage and I feel like, because of that, I was maybe a little bit confused about who I was as a child."
The 35-year-old entrepreneur explained it was a challenge for her to feel a sense of belonging growing up in a community where there were few who looked like her. She even went by the name "Heidi" in an effort to try and fit the mold. But she found solace in makeup as a way to transform herself and gain more confidence.
"I felt like I was not a cute kid, and I remember seeing people transform," Kattan said. "It was actually when my sister was in the beauty pageants and I was in some pageants. I didn't win any. I always got that like, participant trophy, but I fell in love with the way makeup could transform people. You could be just a basic human being and then all of a sudden look like a doll and this beautiful creature."
"I mean, I still struggle with all these issues to date. I was just, you know, I started realizing I've had a lot of issues with self love. And I didn't realize it because I always felt like I wasn't good enough," Kattan emotionally admitted.
Despite the challenges, Kattan pushed through to build her billion-dollar beauty brand, breaking barriers as a female entrepreneur in the Middle East.
"I definitely think when I first started it was really challenging, 'cause we were starting our beauty brand from the Middle East and it wasn't common to do that. And it was almost like we were pioneering. I remember saying to my husband so many times like, I don't know what I'm doing."
Kattan credits following her intuition and separating herself from outside noise and the strengths that have helped her in developing her business.
"There's not a blueprint for me to follow, but I've always trusted my intuition and I made decisions," she shared. "And I do feel that any time I've ever made the wrong decision it's because I allowed somebody to interfere and override my intuition. Sometimes, you really need to trust your gut."
She also spoke to the preconceived notions of being a female CEO and coming to the conclusion that she can be both assertive and nurturing at her job.
"For the longest time, I just felt like I had to be really, really harsh to be taken seriously as a CEO," she reflected. "When I understood that women can be both sides of it, it was really beautiful. And don't get me wrong, I can be an alpha female in a board room, but I also want to be loving and nurturing with my daughter as well. I want to remain that sexy -- that part of being a woman as well. I've finally learned that I can be all of those things and it's awesome. And a man should also be able to be all those things as well."