The Expat Woman

Hadi Leila Labarang, Founder of My Muse Box

The beauty industry is one marketplace that is forever changing and growing. Every day there is a new brand that pops up that might be exactly what you are looking for. But if you are a busy woman on the go, how are you supposed to keep up with the new trends? Well we have the answer . . . My Muse Box! If you haven’t heard of My Muse Box and you are a beauty product junkie, you need to sign up ASAP. We were fortunate enough to get the chance to interview Hadi Labarang, Founder of My Muse Box.

Hadi is a woman of the world. She grew up in Saudi Arabia and moved to France in her teenage years. As you can imagine, she has been exposed to a wide range of beauty standards which has contributed to her appreciation of beauty across all cultures. Hadi realized that there was not just one beauty aesthetic and created My Muse Box to help share her love of culture. Another fun fact about Hadi is that she is the Executive Editor at Scarllett Magazine ( a fashion and lifestyle publication. Keep reading to learn more about My Muse Box and her experience in the US.

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TEW: What made you move to the USA and why did you choose to launch your business in San Francisco?

Hadi: The initial reason I moved to the USA was to pursue a Bachelor in business with emphasis in Corporate Management, Finance and Entrepreneurship. After graduating, starting my own business seemed like the natural path to take. The USA and San Francisco, in particular, has a great start-up culture and a favorable ecosystem for entrepreneurs.

TEW: From growing up in Saudi Arabia to living in France during your teenage years, how was your idea of beauty formed or influenced?

Hadi: I had great experiences in each of these countries, they all helped me shape my understanding and perspective of beauty. Women in Europe and the Middle East have different standards and ways of using makeup. Although they purchase the same brands, they use them very differently.

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TEW: What is My Muse Box and where did you get the inspiration to launch your business?

Hadi: My MuseBox is a quarterly subscription boxes that gives women the opportunity to sample a variety of beauty products from different brands. We also give back to charities that support education or microfinance women-owned businesses in third world countries. The idea came after trying a couple of subscription boxes and realizing that a lot of them didn’t give me the experience I was looking for. I wanted to discover new brands and most sent me products from brands I already knew.

TEW: How is My Muse Box transforming the way women shop for beauty products?  

Hadi: We are very big on personalization. Although all our subscribers receive the same products, we shoot videos with women they can relate to. We find that our customers are very responsive to that.

TEW: What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur? Your least favorite?

Hadi: My favorite thing is seeing the business take a life of its own. All of a sudden, it’s bigger than you, and every step you take creates a ripple effect that helps the business grow. My least favorite is that there is never enough time in the day to do everything you have to do for the business.

musebox logo

TEW: If an expat woman has a great business idea, what are the three most important steps she needs to take to launch her business?

Hadi: My number one step is : Understand your target demographic, you must understand who your customers are and what they are interested in for you to make a great product. Second on the list is : Research, you must understand the space you are entering, competition and potential allies. The third: You must think lean, if you are starting a retail venture do not  buy too much inventory before you’ve tested the market and its response to your product.

TEW: What advice would you give to professional expat women trying to start their own business in the US?

Hadi: It’s okay not to have all the answers. Do not be afraid to fail but do not learn to quit. There is a major difference between failing- knowing that you have done everything in your power to make the business succeed, and quitting because you are facing too many obstacles. Keep trying until you master your craft.Practice makes perfect.

TEW: What three things do you like about the USA?

  1. Locals are helpful
  2. San Francisco, in particular, is a multicultural city and a great place to make contacts
  3. You can find an app for everything

sally hansonrevlon stickTEW: What three things have you found most different in the US from your home country that have also been difficult to adjust to?

  1. There is not an equal opportunity for foreigners to find jobs.
  2. There is not much government assistance for foreigners in terms education or health.
  3. The transportation system is pretty bad compared to Europe.


TEW: What are three fun or interesting facts about your home country?

Hadi: Considering Saudi Arabia to be my home country. Some interesting facts are

1.  McDonald’s has two sections, one for “men only” and the other for women and families.

2. The embassy does not issue tourist visas for K.S.A ( kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

3. Stores have to close during prayer times (5 prayers a day) and reopen in between those times.

smashbox lip gloss

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TEW: What are some beauty trends for 2015?

Hadi: Makeup: Sheer Cream eye shadows are definitely making a comeback- we saw a lot of it in the Derek Lam show

For nails: Pastel colors are chic, they look great for all seasons this year

For hair: the deconstructed braid is in, it looks effortless and 2015 is about being effortlessly glam.


Written by Hadi Labarang and Martina Trejo

Photos courtesy of Hadi Labarang




Nyna is the Founder and CEO of The Expat Woman, a global platform focused on connecting, supporting and empowering women who have moved abroad or plan to relocate. She is also a LinkedIn coach, consultant, trainer and speaker. LinkedIn played a huge role in my professional journey abroad, helping me build a network of powerful expat women and allies.

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