altM spoke with Halal Beauty Box Founder, Jaquelyn Wahidi, about this very cool, very relevant product for Muslim and eco-conscious fashionistas alike:
1. Tell us the story behind Halal Beauty Box – what inspired the idea and what are you trying to do with this new product?
While there is a very long answer to this question, which can be found here
, the short version is this: Even though my husband and I are not strict Muslims, one of the restrictions we do observe is not consuming pork products. Once our daughter was born, I was constantly examining everything from packaged soaps, shampoos, and food for babies and toddlers. I was surprised to learn that pork was present in so many of these items–often labeled as “glycerin” or “gelatin”. You had to do research with each individual manufacturer to find out if ingredients were pig-based or plant based. It was exhausting, but it did get me thinking. If they put this in baby
products, what else do they put it in?! I had long known the cosmetics industry tested on animals, but I didn’t know there were ground up bits of animals in my blush, eye shadow, mascara and foundation. This is another dirty little secret of the beauty industry. They have even cleverly named “animal byproducts” so you just think it’s a chemical rather than a protein. Who knew glycerin was pig fat? Luckily, there are many products available now that are animal, alcohol and cruelty free. These are the brands we will be bringing to you through the Halal
2. How does the subscription process work? Do people get to decide how often they receive a new box? What is the average cost?
At the present time, we are on a strict schedule for the boxes. They are sent once a month, usually on or around the 10th. New subscribers must sign up by the 5th of the month to receive that month’s box. For example, if you want the October box, you must subscribe by 10/5. Those who subscribe on 10/6 and after will receive the November box. Presently, we only offer a monthly subscription, but we may look into a quarterly option in the future.
3. How do you choose the products you provide in the Halal Beauty Box? I was astounded at how perfectly the products worked for me – the lipstick and lip pencil perfectly complemented my complexion, and the eyeliner was wonderfully pigmented. What is your secret to finding such great products and ones that are so well-suited to the buyer?
I am so glad to hear you loved the items in your Halal Beauty Box! Regarding products, I often ask the manufacturers which items get the best reviews from their customers. If something is a best seller, it’s likely that our customers will be happy with it too.
FX Cosmetics Lip Pencil – Retail Value $11.50
4. Where do you see the Halal Beauty Box fitting in with the broader modesty movement and focus on Islamic fashion and beauty? What is Halal Beauty Box’s unique contribution to that burgeoning phenomenon?
The Halal Beauty Box brings to light the fact that pork byproducts are in our cosmetics. People in general are more concerned about where their products come from in and what’s in them than ever. Muslims have always been hyper-conscious of avoiding certain ingredients and reading labels, but I don’t think many of us realize we should do that with make-up too. We hope to educate people so they can make an informed decision about what they put on their skin, eyes, hair, etc. It’s all about people being more conscious of what they buy, wear, and use.
5. Who do you see as your primary competitors and how do you distinguish yourself from them?
I suppose our primary competitors are the other big name beauty boxes– Glossy Box and Birch Box come first to mind. Although our product is priced higher, we do send high quality, full-size products which is something the other boxes don’t offer. There are also the vegan beauty boxes, but those focus more on skincare than cosmetics. In our research, we found the HBB customer prefers cosmetics to skincare. Additionally, just because an item is vegan doesn’t mean it’s alcohol-free. A large percentage of our customers want to avoid alcohol in their products as well. The Halal Beauty Box is unique, because it’s designed with the Muslim woman’s needs and wants in mind. We like to say, “We did the research, so you don’t have to.”
6. Tell us about your team – who are the people behind Halal Beauty Box?
While I would love to say we have a huge office and dozens of employee, the truth is this still a “Mom and Pop” shop–quite literally. I focus on the product sourcing, testing and curating. My husband deals with packing and logistics. I also have some former colleagues that are in eCommerce, sales, and accounting that I seek advice from. Of course, I also love getting feed back from my family, especially my sister-in-law, because she was a professional MUA for years and knows her stuff.
Wabi-Sabi Botanicals Clay Face Mask Retail Value $20-$24
7. Where do you see this product 5 years from now? 10 years from now?
There are a few other avenues I’d like to see us pursue over the next few years. Our next immediate goal is opening the retail portion of the site. That way, you can buy more of your favorite products right from the site. I’d like to venture into subscription boxes and online retail for other product categories as well–like accessories and clothing. Within the next decade, it would be great to be able to expand into international markets. Presently, we’re only serving the US and Canada, but we get inquiries daily from all over the world asking when they’ll be able to subscribe.
Asma T. Uddin is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of altmuslimah.com, and Co-founder of altFem Magazine and altVentures Media, Inc. She is also a lawyer and scholar specializing in American and international religious liberty.