Meet Sabeen Zia, the founder of Muskaan Makeup
Sabeen Zia, Muskaan Makeup
"Sometimes, a customer wants a vegan and gluten free product, but they only get vegan. I never want to turn a consumer away because of our product’s limitations, so I’m continuing to work on more certifications after the launch and as Muskaan grows."
Meet the Founder
Sabeen Zia was born in Karachi, Pakistan and moved to the United States at 5 years old. She completed her B.S. in Toxicology at Northeastern University before completing her masters’ degree at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She’s worked for established beauty brands, including L’Oréal, Colorescience, and blowpro haircare, where she gained experience in product development, customer relations, and marketing. She now lives in Philadelphia, PA where Muskaan was born.
The Questions to ASk Before You Start A BRand...
Muskaan could be another brand lost on the shelves of green beauty markets. How could I make it different? What are the gaps in the market that I could cater to? Taking advantage of my experience in the beauty industry, I decided that Muskaan should launch as a welcoming, yet high quality brand that reaches all types of consumers – whether they’re drawn in by the packaging, formulas, or certifications that the products have. Sometimes, a customer wants a vegan and gluten free product, but they only get vegan. I never want to turn a consumer away because of our product’s limitations, so I’m continuing to work on more certifications after the launch and as Muskaan grows.
How She overcame growing pains...
It took me almost two years to launch, facing obstacles in every area of a launch – suppliers, production, packaging – you name it. But I’ve learned so much along the way and it only makes me motivated to do more.
An important lesson for me was to negotiate - on everything! In the beginning, I thought we had enough funds to sustain us until we got things going and I was initially feel very uncomfortable negotiating. I learned that the worst thing that will happen is that the other party says no, but you need to protect your bottom line.
Networking within the industry is also crucial - I initially found this tricky because the people I interviewed thought my questions were posed to steal their ideas. It’s important to find the right mentor and I’ve found that the best business advice often comes from mentors in different industries or even a different beauty category.
Initially my biggest challenge was understanding and managing the finances of a business. As a chemist by degree, I mainly took science classes in university and all of the established companies I worked for in my past life had large finance departments. In my new life as a small business owner, I’ve had to become an expert on things like shipping, financial terminology, and budgeting. To overcome these hurdles, I took a 5-week small business class at UPENN Wharton and will continue to take individualized classes on QuickBooks or finance to master these elements of my business.
How she knew she was ready to launch
No matter how organized you are and how much time you take preparing, you will never have the perfect launch. You will have to accept it. Preparing for the launch felt like I was planning a wedding! I started with one vision and ended up with a completely different one, hired people to help me, and did a ton of my own research about the launch. In the end, always go with your gut. It’s your brand, so it’s your call.
I’ve spent a long time putting together Muskaan - and there’s still a lot more to do. I’m excited that it’s ready to go out in the world and make people smile!