Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Minara El-Rahman of Mora Cosmetics Is Helping To Change Our World
Always Practice Gratitude: I am forever grateful for the people who have supported my vision for this brand. I make a point to write down all that I am thankful for daily as a way to keep going. If it wasn’t for all of my blessings, I would not be able to do what I am doing!
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Minara El-Rahman.
Founder Minara El-Rahman is a New York beauty maven at heart who, before starting a cosmetics business, worked as a lawyer in the bay area. This knowledge helped her build a strong foundation for her company when she realized she wanted to live a more sustainable life that was halal-friendly, in and out. Minara built Mora Cosmetics to intentionally honor Islam’s core values of excellence and respect for the planet and our bodies with a clean, vegan, halal sustainable brand.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always been passionate about the beauty space. When I was in high school, I visited a beauty specialty store called Ricky’s NYC and used pigments there to create fun lip balms in contact lens cases to sell to friends.
After college, I was in fashion PR and kept in touch with PR managers from brands like Phyto and Tarte Cosmetics, but ultimately ended up in law school to focus on intellectual property.
From there, I got into digital marketing for various verticals. Still, I always knew I wanted to launch a halal makeup brand since there wasn’t anything on the market in the U.S. I remember being pregnant and told by my doctor that I had to avoid using my beloved makeup brands because the products weren’t clean. But, when I looked for clean beauty products, nothing worked for my darker skin tone.
That’s when I knew I had to start a clean halal beauty brand. I just needed investment capital. All it took was looking at my 401k balance and just realizing I needed to take a risk and do it!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake we made was assuming that our packaging supplier would know how we wanted to fill the components. We wanted a domed tip for our Satin Sheen Multistick. However, our packaging supplier was the right resource to help us achieve that. Ultimately, we got a custom mold we purchased from a vendor our beauty lab recommended. The lesson learned is to never assume a supplier knows everything. Ask a million questions to be as clear as possible so that you can execute your vision!
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
For so long, Muslim Americans have faced discrimination and bias. I have personally felt it for 20+ years as a visibly Muslim woman. With the rise of social media platforms like Instagram, we saw some token representation of Muslims in the beauty industry, but never truly a space carved out by a Muslim for Muslims that included all beauty lovers. With Mora Cosmetics, we intentionally honor Islam’s core values of excellence and respect for the planet and our bodies with a clean, vegan, halal sustainable brand.
I am so happy to be able to show that diversity may not be the same as inclusivity and to make the beauty space a more welcoming place for Muslim consumers.
On top of that, we ensure we give back to ocean-based charities because we know that we are stewards of the earth. We must love the planet, honor it and take care of it by giving and investing in sustainable packaging.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
One of our main core values is to respect the planet and give back to ocean-based charities. We have been able to support charities such as Coral Gardeners, Sea Legacy, and more.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve? Three things that our community can do to help take care of our planet are:
Support sustainable beauty brands: Beauty brands aren’t all equal. Support brands that are truly trying to reduce the waste in our oceans. Recycle beauty packaging that you can. A lot of unique retailers offer recycling programs, such as Credo Beauty, Nordstrom, and others.
Invest in beauty multitaskers: Reduce the clutter in your beauty routine by investing in multitasking makeup. A multi-stick that you can use as a lip color, blush, and even contour means you will buy fewer products and packaging that will end up in our oceans.
Buy less: As a beauty founder, I may be an anomaly, but I believe less is more. Do you need so much product? Buy classics that you will use daily. Don’t buy more until you run out of it.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is taking ownership of things. It isn’t always fun and sunshine being a leader. You will have to have difficult conversations, admit to making mistakes, and then work to correct those mistakes. But the first step to all of that is taking responsibility for your actions, apologizing when needed, and then moving forward.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Believe in yourself: I wish I had someone to tell me to chase my dream sooner, honestly. So often, we have loved ones tell us not to because they can’t see our vision or worry about failure. My parents were so worried about my financial situation that they told me not to pursue this path. However, with my husband’s love and support, I started Mora Cosmetics, and it has thrived!
- It’s OK to say no: Your time is valuable. You don’t need to be accessible for “quick chats” and “helping” if you can’t. Everyone needs downtime and it’s perfectly valid to say no to requests if it comes at the risk of overloading. I have been flooded with requests to chat with other brand owners, and I will always say yes. However, recently, I realized it was eating into my time with my children and family. I have taken the time to say no until 2023. I love helping others, but I also need to protect my time.
- Be selective: Take your time figuring out which business opportunities align with your brand and its goals. We had the chance to be a part of a beauty box, but they wanted us to supply products at a loss to them. While it was an amazing opportunity to get in front of consumers, we decided it didn’t make sense for us as a company to do this.
- Connect with others: The people you surround yourself with are important. Whenever I find a beauty brand that I admire, I seek out that founder to forge a friendship with them. I often find their values align with mine, and I can ask them things that I can’t ask anyone else. Some beauty founders that I count as close friends are Sienna Brown from Glosshood and Cece Meadows from Prados Beauty. They have given me so much inspiration and advice.
- Always Practice Gratitude: I am forever grateful for the people who have supported my vision for this brand. I make a point to write down all that I am thankful for daily as a way to keep going. If it wasn’t for all of my blessings, I would not be able to do what I am doing!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Minara: My dream is to work on a plan that will help beauty brands take ownership in their part of the global warming crisis. For example, investing in compostable and reusable packaging, having access to domestic factories for packaging, and trying to reduce beauty waste.
Can you imagine if ALL beauty brands made business decisions that would reduce global warming? We could save countless lives!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Minara: “Verily, with every hardship, comes ease. -Quran 94:5
No matter how hard the beauty founder journey is, I know deep down that we can overcome all hardships, and there will always be success in some form. Repeating this during the hard times allows me to look forward to the good times!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Minara: I would LOVE to meet Mindy Kaling. As a desi woman, she was the first person I saw who looked like me when she was on The Office, and she has gone on to create an amazing career where she has uplifted the Southasian voice in American media. She is gorgeous, funny and has the best style, and I bet we would have an amazing meal together!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Minara: Subscribe to our mailing list on moraglam.com! You never know what special goodies we have in store.
This was very meaningful; thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Minara: Thank you so much for having me!