UAE-based Moroccan beauty brand izil’s constant transformation and evolution to meet the changing customer expectations have resulted in a 500% Y-O-Y (year-on-year) growth of the brand over the years.
Founder Mouna Abbassy started her retail journey with selling products on Facebook and then opening six kiosks in different malls in the UAE until 2016. In 2016, Abbassy decided to close all the existing kiosks and open a singular kiosk in Dubai Mall and launch an e-commerce website.
izil opened its own GMP-certified manufacturing facility in Ras Al Khaimah in 2019. Subsequently, a year later, on June 30th, 2020, a unique flagship store was launched in the Dubai Mall after another brand revamp.
“Firstly, we learnt that The Dubai Mall gave us enough visibility. Secondly, we needed to focus on growing the e-commerce, and finally, converting all the kiosks to the new design would have been very costly for the brand,” said Mouna Abbassy, explaining why they decided to close all kiosks and open one unified flagship store.
The introduction of the flagship store strengthened sales further and provided more stability than its previous kiosks. “It definitely helped the business financially thanks to higher sales than the previous kiosk, but it is also a long-term investment in a concept that we are planning to franchise in the future once it is completed,” she added.
Up until 2020, Saudi Arabia was izil’s biggest market, but after the second revamp, opening of the new store and strengthening of its e-commerce portfolio, the UAE is now its primary market.
“The UAE growth was much stronger during the covid pandemic. Moreover, the implementation of the 15% VAT in Saudi plus stricter rules at the customs made it harder for us to sell in Saudi Arabia (we sell exclusively through e-commerce in that market). However, we still see it as the biggest GCC market in terms of potential and we are taking the necessary measures to develop izil there,” she concluded.
Mouna Abbasy and the Inception of izil Beauty
Mouna Abbasy, Founder and CEO of izil beauty, has one of the most inspirational stories for women of our time. Born in Morocco, Mouna grew up in a country where beauty rituals formed a part of essential social affairs as far as females were concerned. She witnessed her mother and other women in the community prepare their own beauty recipes with the raw and natural ingredients.
The camaraderie, sense of belongingness and oneness with nature tied the female fraternity in a bond that was based on purity and the sheer joy of feeling and looking beautiful. The beauty recipes were prided not only for their pure ingredients, but also for the overall experience and the remarkable results they provided. It was a shared experience to exalt all the senses and create that unique moment where the female focuses solely on her natural instincts and well-being.
This celebration of natural beauty and femininity rooted itself deeply in Mouna, who later brought this passion to life in Dubai. She moved to Dubai in 2005 and immediately fell in love with this dynamic, energetic multicultural land of opportunity. Mouna joined one of the largest beauty corporations in the world where she fed my passion for the world of beauty care, but she felt something was missing. Beyond the world of glamour and artificial ingredients was a consumer insight waiting to be unleashed – one where every woman would feel naturally beautiful and be connected to nature through the best, purest ingredients. “People feel like they have to have a chemistry diploma to understand what they are putting on their skin”, says Mouna. “We want women and girls to feel confident about themselves, to look at beauty from a different perspective. Beauty is not necessarily the women we see in magazines. Beauty comes from within. We want to promote that kind of pure beauty which will help women get confidence and help them achieve their daily challenges.”
Fuelled by the passion and knowledge from her rich culture, Mouna started off with selling Moroccan beauty products on Facebook pages and exhibitions in the UAE. Because the products provide instant fantastic results, the demand quickly grew enough for her to open a kiosk in Dubai Festival City. Mouna’s Marketing background, and her 1-year program on cosmetic science at the UK Cosmetic Science Society quickly helped her scale up the business.
Between 2014 to 2016, izil opened 6 kiosks and started to be noticed as Mouna started receiving multiple awards and accolades. In 2016, Mouna merged all the kiosks into one major one at Dubai Mall, and launched an e-commerce website. As sales sky rocketed, izil opened up opened its own GMP certified manufacturing facility in Ras Al Khaimah in 2019 which was a massive step. A year later, Mouna finally took the plunge and launched a rebranded, high-end flagship store in Dubai Mall, which now also houses izil’s own deluxe spa.
When Mouna was 10, she suffered from a rare paralyzing illness that left her in a wheelchair for many months. Overcoming the illness through her sheer determination and fighting spirit, Mouna’s is a story we don’t come by very often.
Her journey is one of resilience, commitment and sheer hard work. With her background in Marketing and her determined personality, Mouna is a shining example of what women can achieve if they set their mind to it. She realized the gap in the beauty market for a natural, chemical-free brand that provides results, and merged it with the secret beauty recipes from her heritage. She understood that the woman of today wants to feel beautiful inside and out, without compromising on her time or exposing her skin to harmful chemicals. These women are comfortable in their own skin and want to be the best version of themselves, and that is what izil offers them.
As a female entrepreneur, Mouna has been recognized on multiple fronts. In 2015, she was the winner of the Hadafi Women’s Entrepreneurship Season 3 and also received the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award. In 2018, she also made it to Vogue’s article ‘These 5 Arab Women Are Changing the Beauty Game’ and Forbes magazine’s ‘Women Behind Middle Eastern Brands’ 2020 list.
izil, literally meaning ‘pure’ in the ancient Amazigh language, has also received immense recognition over the years. The most recent feather in its cap has been the Images Retail ME ‘Most Admired Beauty and Wellness Brand 2020,’ which is one of the brand’s biggest achievements to date.
As a mother, wife, businesswoman and an award-winning entrepreneur, Mouna is a role model for young girls who dare to dream big. Mouna is a shining example of how no language, culture or place can act as an obstacle if you have a vision and the drive to carry it through.