BEIRUT: The Lebanese have always been good manufacturers, whether it be in the food and beverage sector (Ghandour, Taanayel, and Masters all come to mind here) or the hygiene sector with several deodorants, house perfumes and detergents on the frontlines of the selling venues.
More recently, a new phenomenon has emerged in the small Lebanese market, that of Lebanese entrepreneurs manufacturing their own cosmetics, whether locally or by outsourcing, and selling it to willing customers.
Perhaps Face Of Dee, a makeup brand founded by Lebanese entrepreneur Dareen El Samarany, best embodies this phenomenon. The brand, which was launched in June 2018, is famous for selling four types of products: beauty blenders, matte lipsticks, lip glosses, and eyebrow mascaras.
It was the beauty blenders that got El Samarany her breakthrough into the highly volatile beauty industry of Lebanon.
“I come from a background of working in the oil and gas sector, so I knew nothing and no one in the beauty industry,” says El Samarany. “I had a limited budget and I wanted to use it wisely to launch a product. I studied all the makeup items and I realized that we didn’t have any local beauty blenders. People ordered them from Sephora and sold them for $30-$35 a piece.”
El Samarany decided to manufacture her own blenders and test them in the market for a price of $10 a piece only (at the previous rate of 1,515 LL per dollar). She researched 10 well-known makeup artists and sent them PR gift packages which were well-reviewed among their audience, and soon enough Face Of Dee’s sponges were in demand among most makeup artists and beauty influencers in the country.
Still not satisfied with her success, El Samarany decided to expand her venture to include lipsticks and invested “a huge sum” of money in 10 colors that were manufactured in a factory in France, and which catapulted her to huge success in the Lebanese market. Since then, El Samarany has sold hundreds of thousands of her products, an accomplishment which earned her the “Best Makeup and Cosmetics Brand” title by British magazine Luxe Review.
El Samarany feels grateful that her sales were not affected by the COVID-19. On the contrary, her sales witnessed a jump 18 times the usual number.
“I feel very blessed and grateful for what I was able to achieve,” El Samarany says. “Now I have my eye on the UAE and Qatar. If Face Of Dee is to survive, I must expand abroad.”
Lexy is the first Lebanese nail polish brand to compete with heavyweights such as L’oreal and Essie. It has over 3000 points of sale across Lebanon, mainly pharmacies and beauty salons, and is actively seeking an agent abroad.
Lexy was founded in 2014 by Robert Tabet who was interning at the time at his soon-to-be mother-in-law’s pharmacy. Tabet noticed that his mother-in-law had devised a nail hardening formula which was in demand among the pharmacy’s customers.
He decided to commercialize the product, which sold well in the beginning, and to introduce more than 100 colors into the formula, an addition that proved to be successful.
With influential marketing and branding campaigns that relied on innovative concepts such as personality tests and horoscopes, Lexy succeeded in giving its customers “the feeling that it was made especially for them,” says Tabet. The fact that it is 100% manufactured in Lebanon also gave the brand the local boost it needed. This year, Lexy surpassed its one-millionth sale item, an admirable milestone in the age of corona.
“Our focus now is to actively search for distributors abroad who would be willing to take a chance on Lexy and help us expand to the region,” said Tabet.
Founded in late 2019 by aspiring architects Mounira El Halabi and Farah Khaled, Joona is a beauty startup rooted in wellness and heritage. Its co-founders were so immersed in the old practices of the ancient perfumeries- or “Attareen” in Arabic- that they decided to use one of their essential ingredients in their products: rose water. Their aloe vera rose water spray and liquid moon cream are infused with rose water, a fact which has gained them a lot of popularity.
After deciding to shift their focus to heritage perfumery- in the context of wellness- the startup located in Tripoli and are now doing their magic as they prepare to launch new skincare products.
Welcome to Annahar's "Startup City," a column designed to cover the hundreds of early-stage businesses in Beirut, and what they represent as to the talent and optimistic business plans of local young tech workers. Send your nominations to [email protected]
An-Nahar is not responsible for the comments that users post below. We kindly ask you to keep this space a clean and respectful forum for discussion.