Kimberly Hajaj | Building a Beauty Empire
Meet the resilient, courageous Kimberly Hajaj, Founder of White Orchid Cosmetics. Originally from Lebanon, she now lives in Vancouver, Canada pursing her love of fashion and beauty endeavours. Her story will resonate with you for so many reasons ; she is an advocate for empowering women, she works hard for everything that she has and stands her ground on so many topics. We are truly humbled to have met such an outstanding woman who is so strong yet so gentle and kind. Her story will blow you away. Meet business woman, entrepreneur, beauty influencer and international sensation, Kimberly Hajaj.
Tell our readers a little about yourself.
I moved to Vancouver almost nine years ago to date. I was in a completely different industry than I am now. I went to law school because my mother was a lawyer and always pushed for that route but it was never my passion. I was always obsessed with fashion and beauty and always dreamt of one day becoming a fashion designer. That being said, in Lebanon it’s a bit more difficult to fulfill that dream and much more challenging than in other parts of the world. I never felt like a belonged there, I always wanted to discover the world and all it has to offer. It took quite a lot of convincing for my parents to understand that the fashion industry was just as important as a law career but after many rejections I decided to finish University and put a stop on my dream.
What brought you to Vancouver, Canada out of all places in the world?
I actually moved to Canada for about four months in the beginning to work on my English. The airport near my home [in Lebanon] exploded and it became very dangerous to go back. I was 19 years old when that happened and coincidently with the dangers of war back home, I decided that it was the perfect time to pursue my dream. I had to look after myself and my brother who came with me to Canada. There was no going back from there on and we started our lives here in the beautiful country of Canada.
Talk to us about how the experience of being 19 and having to take care of your younger brother and no home to go back to and more importantly how you found your way to today?
It was very difficult to be honest. It was really a day to day thing, never knowing when would be the last time we would see our parents again because of how dangerous it was in our country. The stress was always lingering in the air. I never got the time to really let things sink in because being the oldest, I always had to look out for the my siblings.
Can you tell us about one of those struggles you had to face in that period?
My younger brother was kidnapped and we barely got him back. The militia group wanted to turn him into a ISIS soldier. So that’s why I decided to take him with me to Canada because the next time we would have never seen him ever again.
Business was an escape for me, it was the only “me” time I had after everything my family and I had been through. I am a huge believer in the quote that says “Empower before you expire”, wanting to leave a legacy in this world before I go is what drives me to keep going.
When did you start your first business?
I have been in direct sales for almost seven years now doing D2D and B2B in telecommunications and just as of recently in financial technology.
In parallel to this, I have my own business. Through my job, I was able to understand more about sales because of the nature of sales and especially dealing with rejection. I remember my first day doing door to door and having so many doors close on me, it taught me some of the most valuable lessons in business. It definitely shaped me to be the woman that I am today. Orchid Cosmetics, my business venture, was a 3am type of idea where it came to me while I was in bed. Covid 19 opened a lot of people eyes and changed the way we perceived our day to day lives. For me, if I wasn’t going to change now, it would never happen ever.
I wanted something that I can control because as we all know, when you work for someone, you are always at their mercy. I wanted to launch a company in the beauty industry that truly empowers others. A lot of makeup brands have their own clientele that people just don’t relate to and fell left out of. So I made the hashtag #WOCForAll and I wanted a brand that stands for every single person and doesn’t discriminate in any way, shape or form. I didn’t want anyone walking away saying that White Orchid was not for them or didn’t work for their skin type or colour.
What products do you currently offer at White Orchid Cosmetics?
For now, we offer liquid lipstick, lipgloss, lashes (in various forms including vegan) and so much more. I am also in the process of having a story behind every single one of the products names. For the Lux collection, I have four products and their names are 30 under 30, ex-girlfriend glow up, Goddess and Alpha. I want there to be something meaningful behind every product that not only delivers a statement by what it does to you but also delivers a powerful message behind the name, leaving you feeling better and more confident than ever before.
The name for the company, White Orchid, came from the fact that I love red roses, but after switching it to white and orchids, I googled what it stood for and the answer was in line with my vision for my business and the products I wanted to sell. I stands for : Elegance, New Beginnings, friendships, purity, innocence and most importantly purity. I knew then and there that that was going to be the perfect name for my business. The idea came to me in early May of this year and I launched the company on May 1st 2021.
What is your vision for White Orchid Cosmetics in the near future?
I have a global vision for the brand. With my background, I want to combine the glam look with the way we do things in the Arab countries.
I am actually planning a fashion show for early next year about women empowerment. I want to show beauty and cosmetics and deal with local brands and give back to communities as much as I can. I don’t want to work with big corporation who are already well established. I would rather concentrate my time and effort on the up and comers of this industry. By the end of next year, I would like to have a Glam Team, that I am currently building up, with the intent to have clients hire us for their events all while using my products and growing the name and brand White Orchid Cosmetics.
At the same time, I would love to be able to host a Master Class for individuals who want to pursue makeup. It would be like a sharing of ideas and styles all while helping people grow in the industry and furthering their skills. A network event with a twist on beauty. I am all about less competition and more collaboration, #WOCForAll. I would love the company to get as big ass possible. We are already in a couple of local stores in Alberta. My vision is to have it in local boutiques and then eventually obviously in big stores like Sephora and all the big name retailers and ultimately expand world wide.
What inspires you to keep pushing your limits and keep growing?
I’m a huge believer that motivation is what gets you started alongside your vision but it’s discipline that gets you through the hard times and ultimately the finish line of where you want to be. The interesting part is that life keeps moving and that’s why motivation can’t compete with discipline. It’s what I do every single day and doing the work without expecting immediate results that gets me from where I am to where I want to be.
What is something that has been a big challenge for you in your progression?
In all honesty it is me. We truly are our worst enemies sometimes. My biggest scare was that I was scared that no one was going to buy my products but then all my products were sold out in the pre- sale launch. I have to remind myself of who I am and not be scared to dive into the unknown. Believe in yourself and your capabilities is my advice to anyone starting out.
I keep reminding myself that my whole life since I came to Canada has been in the unknown and if I could conquer that and raise my brother, there is nothing I can’t achieve.
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Inspiring & empowering women worldwide.
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