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Influence Built Through Passion, Substance and Honesty with Matin Maulawizada, Molecular Biologist and Makeup Artist

It's a Matter Of...Truth

July 7, 2020
July 7, 2020

What is real influence? Influencer marketing is not a new concept, it's a dynamic that’s always been part of society and is ingrained in the human psyche. Brands have always leveraged influential people to market their brands and products, social media turned it into an industry. However, real influence comes from expertise, informed opinions, and leadership. Kelly chats with Matin Maulawizada (Berkeley-raised Molecular Biologist, NYC raised makeup artist turned nontoxic beauty and human rights advocate) who is the embodiment of real influence. 

Kelly Kovack [00:00:08]:
This episode is presented by Landing International, a B-to-B sales and marketing platform that is revolutionizing beauty retail through technology.

Matin Maulawizada [00:00:19]:
Hi, I’m Matin Maulawizada … I’m a New York City-based makeup artist, and it’s a matter of truth.

Kelly Kovack [00:00:33]:
Influencer marketing is not a new concept. Brands have always leveraged influential people to help market their brands and products. Social media turned it into an industry. I’m Kelly Kovack, founder of Beauty Matter. I believe real influence comes from expertise, informed opinions, and leadership; not likes and followers. While the impact of influencers is often referred to as a paradigm shifting trend, in reality, it’s a dynamic that has always been part of society, and it’s ingrained in the human psyche. In simple terms, it’s human nature to want things just beyond our reach. Aspiration is the fuel of the influencer industry. Matin Maulawizada is the embodiment of real influence; even his Instagram bio has gravity. Afghan-raised feminist, Berkley-raised molecular biologist, New York-raised makeup artist turned non-toxic beauty and human rights advocate. At least for Matin, his influence was created by passion, substance, and honesty.

So, Matin, thank you for being here. I’m so excited to have you, because you know, I kind of felt the first time we met, we were like kindred spirits; I felt like I had known you forever.

Matin Maulawizada [00:01:54]:
I couldn’t take my eyes off of you.

Kelly Kovack [00:01:56]:
That’s very sweet. You know, and we met in kind of an environment that is kind of overtly creative, we met doing trend forecasting, which is…it’s always interesting, because it brings people from – as it should, from kind of different walks of life, but you really kind of have to put yourself out there, because it is just a hunch when you’re thinking three years out, and it’s sort of whatever’s rattling around in your head, you kind of have to form it into something cohesive, and it was shocking like how similar the things we pulled were.

Matin Maulawizada [00:02:33]:
Absolutely, yeah.

Kelly Kovack [00:02:34]:
You know, and so, even though we don’t see each other very often, I feel like sort of this very connected thing with you.

Matin Maulawizada [00:02:44]:
Oh, absolutely. I obsessively look at your pictures in your Instagram.

Kelly Kovack [00:02:46]:
I know, there was a time where I actually think I – neither one of us are digital natives, but I do think we might have been early adopters of Pinterest.

Matin Maulawizada [00:02:55]:
Yes, absolutely.

Kelly Kovack [00:02:56]:
Because we used to message each other and we would like molest each other’s Pinterest boards.

Matin Maulawizada [00:03:02]:
I wanted to re-post everything that you posted.

Kelly Kovack [00:03:04]:
But, you know, on that point, I think it’s really – and, I wasn’t going to start here, but since we’re talking about sort of social media, you know, I think…what is your feeling about kind of Instagram versus Pinterest? Because they’re very different platforms.

Matin Maulawizada [00:03:20]:
They’re extremely different. Pinterest, to me, it’s a grown-up form of Instagram. It’s a little more…you can collect things, it’s almost like archiving things for me. I used to take screenshots of everything and then I’d lose them and I could never…

Kelly Kovack [00:03:34]:
They’d be all over my desktop, yeah.

Matin Maulawizada [00:03:36]:
Exactly. And, with Pinterest, I can put a mood board together and keep it private until I show it to a client, so it helps me in those terms, of like, okay, I’m creating a fashion show, what are the inspirations that I pull from beauty or anything, actually. So, those images are put together on a board, it would be specifically for that person, I would send it to them. And, it’s interesting, because it really kind of…you don’t have to make a board anymore, you don’t have to bring images with you, it’s all on your phone. As Instagram, although you can save on Instagram and you can do the same, it doesn’t have the same kind of flexibility with organization. Instagram to me is like a tabloid magazine that you just kind of scroll through and have fun and enjoy the images, and you know that’s it all like…smoke and mirrors.

Kelly Kovack [00:04:24]:
It’s almost like…yeah, definitely smoke and mirrors, or contouring and filters. But, there’s also – Instagram kind of has like this fleeting quality to it, where I think Pinterest, for me, I used it for the same way, I was like, “My god, here’s this tool that can actually sort of help me organize myself.” But, you know, and I think that for brands, Pinterest, when you have to sort of create kind of a hierarchy of priorities, is always on the bottom.

Matin Maulawizada [00:04:52]:
Yes, absolutely.

Kelly Kovack [00:04:53]:
And, for me, maybe it’s because I naturually gravitated towards it, I was like, “But Pinterest is so much more powerful,” like there’s an evergreen quality to it, sort of the psychology behind why people are on Pinterest is totally different. Like, they’re there to actually look for things.

Matin Maulawizada [00:05:14]:
Yeah, it’s a research tool more than showing off. It’s not the place that you show off your work, or you’re trying to be cool or this or that, it’s just…it’s literally just there to support you. So, I feel that way with it. I really feel supported by my peers on Pinterest, by exchanging things or reposting or being forward with something, I take it more seriously than I would other social media platforms; Twitter is completely different, but especially Instagram, it’s more of a joke or a meme or something funny, while on Pinterest, it’s like, “Oh, have you looked at this color that’s coming?”

Kelly Kovack [00:05:53]:
Oh, really? So, you actually use it with your peers to sort of…

Matin Maulawizada [00:05:59]:
Absolutely, yes.

Kelly Kovack [00:06:00]:
Really? Interesting.

Matin Maulawizada [00:06:01]:

Kelly Kovack [00:06:02]:

Matin Maulawizada [00:06:03]:
And, it’s nice. It’s nice to see that, because it’s really inspirational to me.

Kelly Kovack [00:06:06]:
So, actually, if people really want to know where the real sort of creative trend, inspiration is happening, it’s actually on Pinterest.

Matin Maulawizada [00:06:13]:
Absolutely. Yeah, it has a lot more archives than you can ever find. Most of them are linked in a way now, but yeah, there’s no noise in it, it’s just pure what you are looking for, and it has all of it, which is great. So, the search is really easy on Pinterest. The search on Instagram is a lot harder, to sift through hash tags is really hard.

Kelly Kovack [00:06:38]:
Yeah, I mean, there’s so much noise and garbage.

Matin Maulawizada [00:06:40]:
Well, also, people, just to get traffic, they tag any hashtag, things that are not even related to the images, so like…literally like nine out of ten images have “Kardashians” hashtag on it, and it has nothing to do with…

Kelly Kovack [00:06:52]:
Or, (unclear 06:53) beauty.

Matin Maulawizada [00:06:54]:
Or (unclear) beauty things, which is so random and bizarre to me, but people do that, I guess, just to get traffic to their site.

Kelly Kovack [00:07:00]:
Right. You know, I think that…let’s talk about Instagram, because I’m sure as a makeup artist, it sort of changed how you had – or, maybe it didn’t, you know, did it change how you did business? The business of sort of…

Matin Maulawizada [00:07:15]:
Oh, it’s a second job for us.

Kelly Kovack [00:07:17]:

Matin Maulawizada [00:07:17]:
I mean, yes, because I’m not naturally gravitating towards social media and I don’t have enough followers, but then you – I mean, it’s human nature to compare yourself to people who have three million followers, and then you’re like, how did they get there, and why? Why so many eyeballs are on them? And, it’s mind-boggling, and I’m very jealous of them, at the same time, I’m just intrigued of what they do, but it’s like…I think it’s a platform that you just like, put yourself out there completely. I don’t. I do some work there, and then it’s my dogs and life – it’s a lifestyle type of thing for me.

Kelly Kovack [00:07:53]:
Yeah, but I love it. Your dogs make me happy.

Matin Maulawizada [00:07:56]:
Oh, thank you. Well, I just get – I just honestly get bored if I’m looking at just faces all day long, and it’s variations of the same makeup, I’m like, you can only do so many different things, and then also the unreal nature, if you just – like, there’s a lot of really popular sites, and I follow them and I love them, it’s just an eyeball with different makeup, of the same person.

Kelly Kovack [00:08:16]:
What are some of your favorite?

Matin Maulawizada [00:08:19]:
Oh god. Gosh, it’s hard to…I can never remember their handles.

Kelly Kovack [00:08:22]:
I know, someone did this to me, and I went blank.

Matin Maulawizada [00:08:25]:
It’s hard to – well, Beauty Matter is one.

Kelly Kovack [00:08:27]:
Oh, thank you. Thank you.

Matin Maulawizada [00:08:30]:
It really is, and I think it’s just…there’s a lot of makeup artists that are from all over the world. They’re not really makeup artists that do makeup on others; they do makeup on themselves, and it’s just the picture of their eye from the same angle, so every photo is their eye, and in order to create buzz, they just do these crazy makeups, that if you look at the full face, it doesn’t apply, and it doesn’t work. So, it only works if it’s just one eye. So, it’s really interesting to see that they get like, you know, five hundred thousand likes, and you’re like, “Oh, but if you see her entire face,” you would go like, “This is crazy.”

Kelly Kovack [00:09:09]:
So, it’s almost – and, I think like on TikTok, too, the whole…it’s almost like makeup as a form of creative expression, which is something very different than sort of the commercial side of…

Matin Maulawizada [00:09:24]:
It’s very different. Yeah, it’s not an applied type of feel, it’s more of a personal art project, or a personal craft project.

Kelly Kovack [00:09:30]:
Yeah, which I think is very cool.

Matin Maulawizada [00:09:32]:
It’s great, it’s amazing, and I’m looking at it, I’m like, “Wow, this is so beautiful,” but of course, it would last for two minutes, because there’s like a strip of eye gloss there, and like lip gloss, literally like a stripe, and you know it’s going to melt in like two seconds in the eyeball, because it’s the warmest skin on the face. So, it’s really interesting to see them do that, and they get so much traffic. So, it’s a very…it’s not an applied vision board, it’s more of a fun thing to look at and then you just scroll and you forget about it.

Kelly Kovack [00:10:05]:
Right, it’s more like entertainment.

Matin Maulawizada [00:10:07]:
Exactly. It’s completely entertainment.

Kelly Kovack [00:10:09]:
I mean, it’s entertainment, but it’s also become big business.

Matin Maulawizada [00:10:12]:
Well, yeah. What amazes me, it’s like…people want to be entertained by everyone, so we’re not actors, so for makeup artists to really make a platform for themselves, they really have to be entertainers. They have to be on stage, they have to talk, they have to teach, they have to be pretty, they have to be fit, they have to have the “it” girl in their chair, and it’s really…it’s kind of tough for everyone to do it; we don’t all get to do that.

Kelly Kovack [00:10:41]:
Well, you know, I think what’s really interesting is, you know, this idea of influencers, you know, social media sort of took the idea of “influence” that’s always been around, word of mouth is how every entrepreneur starts their business, because you have no money, but I think social media kind of created this platform, and then off of that, there’s been this completely new business called “influencer marketing” that’s emerged. But, you know, one could argue that you are kind of the ultimate influencer. You’ve built a career based on amazing editorial work, and celebrities that are some of the biggest celebrities in the world, and you’ve been doing them for years. So, you know, I would say that’s kind of a more authentic kind of influence, but it’s sort of evolved to kind of these unboxing and sort of this crazy kind of packaged form of influence.

Matin Maulawizada [00:11:44]:
Well, it’s a different type of influence, because when we were coming up, everything was done three, four months in advance, so you really did have to have a forecasting type of brain, and say, “Okay, what will people do this fall?” and you’re thinking about this in the spring because you’re going somewhere warm to shoot something, and then the magazine would come out six months later. Well, now, it’s like, “Oh, it’s now,” and you’re posting it and it’s done, and it’s like maybe you wait a week by the time they edit it, so it’s like all of these online magazines and all of that, so it’s taking that flavor and that wait and that preciousness of “Oh my god, my cover’s out,” and then you rush to the magazine store and buy like ten of them just to archive it. Nowadays, I’m like, “Oh god.”

Kelly Kovack [00:12:30]:
It happens so fast.

Matin Maulawizada [00:12:31]:
Yeah, it’s lost its flavor, and I was actually thinking about this the other day, I’m like, I wonder if it’s going to happen at some point that there’s too much content and we are not only flooded psychologically with it, but also, there’s no room in the world for it, and we need to purge it, we need to literally recycle and clean it, because it’s gotten to a point that’s absurdity.

Kelly Kovack [00:12:54]:
No, I agree. I think that there’s…you know, it’s sort of like we’re constantly bombarded by, especially in New York, by stimulation, and online, it’s just…I mean, I can’t even remember – I knew the number of how many visual images in a day a person consumes, but you can’t actually process it and really appreciate it, because it’s just noise.

Matin Maulawizada [00:13:19]:
That’s it, it’s become noise, then it’s also, they’re images not worth really consuming. I mean, of course it’s subjective, and everyone has the right to have their own taste, but it’s gotten to a point that anyone that creates some kind of shock or posts some kind of semi-provocative photo gets more likes and in turn gets more followers, and that pushes them to the space where discovery is, and it gets to a point that I’m like, “This is crazy.” It shouldn’t be. There should be a filter somewhere in there that would literally monitor these things.

Kelly Kovack [00:14:03]:
I mean, do you ever – I know that I do, do you ever just say, “That’s it,” and do sort of a digital detox and not pick up your phone, not…

Matin Maulawizada [00:14:08]:
I’ve not been cool enough to do a detox yet.

Kelly Kovack [00:14:12]:
Well, not an official detox, but sometimes I’m just sort of like…

Matin Maulawizada [00:14:16]:
I know people that actually post and say, “Okay, for the next three weeks, I’ll be off.” I’m like, “Okay, why do I need to know this?”

Kelly Kovack [00:14:23]:
Right. Well, it’s also kind of become a thing.

Matin Maulawizada [00:14:25]:
I think so, yeah, I’m sure.

Kelly Kovack [00:14:28]:
I mean, ironically, in Silicon Valley they’re doing sort of these detoxes, and I’m like, “Right, but you created the problem.”

Matin Maulawizada [00:14:37]:
Well, if I wanted to do a detox, I would…in like my dream world, I had this at one point in my house, but then, you know, I moved and I didn’t have time to make it. I had a faraday cage that has coppers in it, copper mesh…

Kelly Kovack [00:14:52]:
Can you explain what that is? I remember – I actually remember you talking about this.

Matin Maulawizada [00:14:57]:
Oh yes. It basically creates a space that no electromagnetic wave could come in, and I would turn off the breaker on my bedroom and literally, there would be no wires, there’s no electricity, there’s absolutely no electric noise or waves in my room, and I have to say, it was amazing, because I wasn’t allowed to keep my phone…

Kelly Kovack [00:15:15]:
You could really feel the difference?          

Matin Maulawizada [00:15:16]:
Yes, because you couldn’t get any reception, you have to put everything away, and there’s no electricity, so you couldn’t turn on the TV or radio or anything, or look at your phone, so it was kind of wonderful. The sleep quality was really different, and then of course, I got back to life and forgot about it, but for the two or three years that I was forced to do it, my doctor suggested it, and it wasn’t because I was online all the time, it was because I was detoxing for other things, it was quite amazing.

Kelly Kovack [00:15:45]:
I had someone also who actually made me change the habit of, you know, there are so many people who – the first thing that they do when they wake up is they grab their phone.

Matin Maulawizada [00:15:56]:
Of course, because that’s where your alarm is too now.

Kelly Kovack [00:15:59]:
That’s where your alarm is, and then you start going through emails or whatever, and you know, I was doing, at that time, a lot of – I had a lot of clients in Europe, and so whatever was in that email was kind of setting the tone for my day, and it wasn’t always good, and so, he really made me – he’s like, “Don’t keep it – don’t keep the phone in your bedroom. Give yourself an hour before you pick it up so you can kind of set your intention for the day,” and I have to say, it was a little hard at first, but I do it now and I…it really kind of changed everything.

Matin Maulawizada [00:16:36]:
Absolutely, it’s a habit. Yeah. You just refuse to look at it until you’re ready to go to work. I think, yeah, that’s the problem with having limitless access to all – everyone, and everyone expects immediate answers. For example, I’m good on texting, even texting or DM on Instagram better than actually answering emails. Emails I don’t even look at until I’m done at work, and sometimes I’m working until 10, 11 at night, so people don’t hear from me, and my agents go crazy, because you know, some of them only deal with email, and then I’m like, “Well, too bad, because I don’t read my emails until the end,” and so that could be a problem, because they expect you to always be on, and of course, we’re working in a global arena with B-to-B or fashion or any of this, and it’s so well-connected, but yes, when London wakes up, we’re up, yeah, which is middle of the day for us, and if we send an email at the end of the day, they are just beginning, and then by the time they get back to us, we are asleep, so it’s really tough to…

Kelly Kovack [00:17:45]:
It never stops.

Matin Maulawizada [00:17:46]:
No, so that expectation has to be more realistic. I saw a movie, a documentary Michael Moore did, it was one of those things, he was interviewing people in Germany, and actually, it’s become illegal with certain firms to email their coworkers after 6pm. They literally cannot do it.

Kelly Kovack [00:18:05]:
I actually think that there needs to be sort of more discipline around that.

Matin Maulawizada [00:18:08]:
Absolutely. I don’t get my work details until 9 o’clock at night because it comes from LA sometimes, and people in LA, they work until 6 o’clock and they send it at the very last minute, it’s 9 o’clock New York time, and my call time is at 8am. I’m like, come on people.

Kelly Kovack [00:18:24]:
Well, and it’s also sort of we have this – well, especially, I suppose, in New York and even kind of in the beauty industry with so many entrepreneurs, and you know, entrepreneurs are incredibly driven because they’re passionate and they’re on all the time, and sometimes there’s this expectation that their team needs to be sort of as on as they are, and I think we’ve all been in situations where you’re getting emails at like ungodly hours, and the expectation is like, “Well, why didn’t you respond?” “Yeah, I was asleep.”

Matin Maulawizada [00:18:59]:
I mean, your phone doesn’t ding every time you get an email?

Kelly Kovack [00:19:02]:
Right? It really…and, I think that there’s – especially in beauty and this is kind of a good segue to talk about sort of wellness and clean beauty, but in beauty we almost have this dichotomy where we talk about wellness and health and sort of “clean beauty” and non-toxic, and then so many of the work environments and the culture is incredibly toxic.

Matin Maulawizada [00:19:29]:
Yeah, absolutely. The sales floor alone, I worked in sales for…I mean, I started at the counter when I was in college, and in the ‘80s, ‘90s, it was amazing, and then it got into early ‘90s, late ‘90s, was still doable, achievable. I came back in a different capacity after college to head teams for brands, and the expectations of sales were so incredibly high and impossible to achieve.

Kelly Kovack [00:19:57]:
But, you know, the irony is, and this is like one of my soapboxes, is that, you know, the most important people I think in the beauty industry, are the people on the frontline, the people you’re talking about that are on the sales floor. You know, for brands, in that moment, in that store, for that customer, they’re the face of the brand. But, so many of these brands don’t give them the time of day. They’re just like, “We’re paying you X amount per hour; you need to sell this much.”

Matin Maulawizada [00:20:29]:
It’s almost minimum wage, in a way, and they are forced to sell, you know, really high values every single day.

Kelly Kovack [00:20:37]:
But yet, they’re writing checks to influencers, giving them the latest products, and yet the people on the frontline are expected to sell the product, and they don’t get it. So, there’s kind of, I think, a, you know, to me, I just…like, I would love to have a platform to be an advocate for those people, and I think like, if you want to know what’s happening with consumers, you don’t need to talk to a focus group; go talk to the people who are at the counter. They’re selling it, they’re talking to the customers.

Matin Maulawizada [00:21:05]:
No, they are the ones that really turns you onto products. I’m sorry, influencers in social media, we post, and it’s all because, you know, the brands supply us products or pay us to do it, and a lot of people, they take that money and post whatever comes their way, and the saddest thing is it’s not true – it’s not the truth about the products, it doesn’t educate you completely about those products. Until you sit down on that chair and try the cream and put it on for, you know, three to four weeks, you have no idea of what it does. There’s no miracle creams out there, and the saddest thing is, it’s like, yes, most of that budget goes into influencers’ pockets instead of going to sales force, and also, they don’t have the advertising budget anymore, so they hire anyone. I’ve been re-hired to clean up work that people have done because they didn’t have the budgets to do it properly, and I mean, yeah, these people, they know how to do makeup on themselves…

Kelly Kovack [00:22:08]:
Right, because they watched a YouTube video.

Matin Maulawizada [00:22:10]:
Yeah, I mean, they’re great at what they are doing for themselves, but it’s like, you cannot do every single face, and you’re not savvy at what it takes to do a shoot, to make a macro photo for an eyelash, so they just stick false eyelashes, and I mean, it looks like a mess. So, it’s a really tough thing to balance.

Kelly Kovack [00:22:32]:
What do you think brands can do better in terms of kind of creating truthful content and sort of engaging the people on the frontline?

Matin Maulawizada [00:22:44]:
One of the things, and I was just in London a few months ago and I saw a few ad campaigns that really interested me, and it was – all of the models were of different ages, and they were a lot of women over 40, 40 to 70, on beauty campaigns, videos, so it wasn’t retouched, it wasn’t crazy looking, it wasn’t, you know, some unachievable, insane triple filtered, you know, face-tuned image, it was a proper, beautiful makeup on a beautiful woman that looks like someone that you know. So, I think if we move towards that trend, it would be amazing. I know fashion is moving more towards that, so they’re creating fashion for different body shapes, different heights, different vibes, but beauty hasn’t done that yet. I know there was a couple of – like Noors did a beautiful campaign with Charlotte Rampling once, and it’s one of my favorite ones, of course, but there needs to be more of that, especially in American beauty.

Kelly Kovack [00:23:45]:
What do you think kind of on that thought, but a little different, about the Gucci beauty campaigns?

Matin Maulawizada [00:23:53]:
The new ones?

Kelly Kovack [00:23:54]:
The new ones, or the new one.

Matin Maulawizada [00:23:56]:
I haven’t seen it.

Kelly Kovack [00:23:56]:
Well, when they launched the new products with sort of the imperfection and the red lips and the imperfect teeth and the…no?

Matin Maulawizada [00:24:04]:
Honestly, I haven’t seen it.

Kelly Kovack [00:24:05]:
Really? I’m going to send it to you, they’re amazing. They’re amazing.

Matin Maulawizada [00:24:08]:
So, good, I’m glad they did that. European brands are trying to go there, for sure, a lot more. I mean, I was surprised how many of those kinds of images you would see in Europe, but in America, it’s still like that pretty girl, you know, 17-year-old that will pretend to be 30, you know, working 18 hour days and have a baby and a half and looks like that, so it’s just kind of unachievable beauty here. I know all of it is a fantasy, but it still can be fantastic and beautiful, but it has to be a little bit more real.

Kelly Kovack [00:24:46]:
So, this is kind of a good segue into the back-half of what we’ll talk about, which is a little bit about sort of thinking a little further out and putting our trend forecasting hats on. And then, I also want to talk a little bit about your culture and sort of your – we haven’t even talked about where you started, which is very interesting. That’s all up next.

And now, here’s our trend minute, brought to you by big thinkers that aren’t afraid to make predictions.

 I’m (unclear 00:25:24) from the Beauty Conversation, and I’m here to talk about trends. Let’s talk about “dirty” beauty. Okay guys, it’s time to challenge filth phobia. As clean beauty and germ-phobic language reach their peak, we’re predicting a shift to consumers who are happy to celebrate a more natural state of being. So, this includes Gen Z and Y customers pushing back against antiperspirant and deodorant use with over a third of 18-24 year olds saying they don’t use them. Shaving brands like Flamingo and We The People have also reframed the narrative around hair removal towards something much more newer that doesn’t pitch body hair as “unclean,” and skintellectuals are also learning more about their skin microbiomes and the perils of overenthusiastic cleansing and exfoliating. Now, we see this “dirty” beauty trend as part of a wider movement that challenges media perfectionism and unrealistic beauty ideals. That’s your trend minute, I’m (unclear 00:26:26), and for more of our insights, go to @TheBeautyConversation on Instagram and sign-up to our newsletter.

 Are you a wellness or beauty brand that’s looking to secure a retail partner? Landing International are beauty and wellness experts empowering brand builders to democratize the business of beauty retail. With the Landing International B-to-B marketing and sales platform, you can connect with retail partners and access sales, marketing, and training solutions to enable your brand’s success. Save 10% on the new premium subscription by emailing Landing International, revolutionizing beauty retail through technology.

 Matin, I’m going to use your Instagram bio, because one, I love it, because I think it’s so – I don’t know, it’s so succinct, and when I read it, I was like, “Oh yeah, that’s Matin.”

Matin Maulawizada [00:27:32]:
Well, because none of it makes sense.

Kelly Kovack [00:27:34]:
Well, yeah, but…

Matin Maulawizada [00:27:35]:
It all comes together somehow.

Kelly Kovack [00:27:36]:
Exactly right. So, Afghan-raised feminist, Berkeley-raised molecular biologist, New York City-raised makeup artist turned clean beauty and human rights activist, or advocate, rather. So, you know, let’s first talk about your background in microbiology, right? So, going from microbiology to makeup artist is a little incongruous.

Matin Maulawizada [00:28:04]:
Well, yeah, my life was in these segments, and then somehow it all came together. I sold makeup. So, I came here without speaking a word of English, and, you know…

Kelly Kovack [00:28:14]:
How old were you?

Matin Maulawizada [00:28:15]:
I was seventeen-and-a-half.

Kelly Kovack [00:28:17]:
Oh, wow.

Matin Maulawizada [00:28:18]:
And, I couldn’t get a job after a while, and I was like, I needed to make money to go to school. I paid for my own school, so I didn’t even know what scholarship was or any of that. I literally was like plucked out of my country, dropped into India, waiting to get a visa to go to hopefully France, I was hoping. I ended up in Northern California because my sister lived there and she somehow managed to get us visas to come here. This was during the Soviet War with Afghanistan. And, I literally left with a small suitcase of clothes, with nothing else, because we pretended that we were going to…

Kelly Kovack [00:28:54]:
On vacation.

Matin Maulawizada [00:28:55]:
Not even on vacation, it was…my mom had to go to do some medical things in India, and India was the only place that you could get a visa.

Kelly Kovack [00:29:03]:
And did your whole family…

Matin Maulawizada [00:29:05]:
No, we came in segments, so we all lived separately, and then a few weeks later, my dad sent my two younger sisters to India, and then we all – so, at least all of us were together, and I had three younger sisters outside all over the world, and then eventually, everyone merged into northern California. So, it’s every immigrants’ family has gone through this. So, that’s what happened, and I found myself living in America, with the only word I knew was “thank you,” literally. Nothing else. And, I had to get a job. So, I worked at a fast food for a while, and it was good, it worked, but I always…I was interested in fashion, for sure. Beauty was never on my radar. I mean, I enjoyed it, because I watched my sister get ready all the time. So, I was the eyebrow patrol and the makeup patrol when I was a kid. They would make me sit in front of them when they got ready, and they would ask me if it was symmetrical, and of course they would beat me up if I said no.

Kelly Kovack [00:30:02]:
Oh really?

Matin Maulawizada [00:30:06]:
If I would say no.

Kelly Kovack [00:30:08]:
So, you have six sisters. Where are you sort of in the…

Matin Maulawizada [00:30:10]:
I have four older and two younger, so the four older ones were – by the time I was like, you know, eight, nine years old, they were already grown up enough to wear makeup all the time, and they were all like glamor pusses, and my mom was, but this, you know, they were coming up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and it was still like, thin eyebrows, they would pencil in their eyebrows completely, and weird arches that eyebrows shouldn’t do. They all have no eyebrows anymore. So, it was those days that they were just like draw on their brows, and it’s really hard to get it perfectly done on your own, but it was fascinating to watch them transform themselves from little girls to these women, and they were all really glamorous, beautiful girls. That’s how I was introduced to beauty, and my family was one of those families that they had group waxing day, and those days I knew that I had to stay outside and play outside because I would get beaten up because they would be in pain, the girls. So, they would like – their friends would come in and they would just like team up and they would make a batch of sugar…sugaring, I should say, more than waxing, and they would put the sugar on their legs and they would just like yank it out and scream. So, it was a really interesting place, and I was the only boy growing up, so there was no boundaries, because when women are all together, they don’t care what they have on. I mean, it was just like half-naked women running around all day long with masks on their faces and rollers, so it was like growing up in a beauty salon. It was really fun. It was really fun; I would not exchange it for anything else. And, my mom used to take me to the salon whenever she would get ready, so I would be sitting in the salon all day watching these women get their hair done. So, it was that kind of environment that I grew up, but I really loved fashion. I always looked at catalogues and magazines, whatever I could get my hands on in Afghanistan. When I came here, I wanted to work in a store or something, I said, “Why not there?” and I could speak a little bit of English, and I was that one guy, because I spoke French and I didn’t know any Italian, so I am that guy that called Versace “ver-sas,” this is the ‘80s. And, I kept applying and finally I got a job at the European designer department at Macy’s in San Francisco. This is before they had their men’s store and all of that, so it was really tiny, and I got exposed to the most beautiful men’s clothes and it was really fun, and you know, I started learning how to dress or dressing up better. I was an ‘80s kid, it was fun. I made half of my clothes, I would go to thrift stores and buy…

Kelly Kovack [00:32:53]:
But then, how did you end up studying molecular biology?

Matin Maulawizada [00:32:57]:
So, that was always my path. I wanted to be a plastic surgeon because of the war in Afghanistan, kids were getting blown up in bits and pieces and they were losing limbs and burned skin, and I wanted to do reconstructive. I have to say, if I did go to that path and didn’t go back to a war zone, I would have been the poorest plastic surgeon in the world, because I would not have touched people’s faces in the way they wanted. I literally would have refused every client.

Kelly Kovack [00:33:25]:
Well, especially sort of at that time, sort of in the ‘80s and ‘90s where plastic surgery was far from natural.

Matin Maulawizada [00:33:32]:
I think it’s worse now.

Kelly Kovack [00:33:34]:
Do you really?

Matin Maulawizada [00:33:35]:
Oh yeah. Because at least then, people didn’t have access to it, so very few looked bad. Now, almost everyone looks bad. So, I would have been really, really poor. Yeah. I think, honest to god, there’s only like a couple that I trust. It’s borderline criminal what they do to women. Anyway, to go back, so I did pre-med for four years in molecular biology. I studied anatomy and molecular biology, and then I interned with a plastic surgeon, and the first nose job I watched, I passed out four times. Meanwhile, I could roll up my sleeve if it was like an emergency, because I worked in the hospital, I worked in a nursing home at one point. These are the odd jobs that I had going, you know, in college, just in healthcare. I had no problem with it at all. If it was an emergency, blood didn’t bother me, but as soon as you took the scalpel and deliberately cut someone live, I would pass out, and I had no idea that that was going to happen.

Kelly Kovack [00:33:43]:
I mean, how would you?

Matin Maulawizada [00:33:44]:
I came from war. I’ve seen brutality. But, this was – plastic surgery is another level of brutal, because it’s elective and there’s no reason for it, in America at least. There is reason for it, but…

Kelly Kovack [00:34:58]:
For cosmetic purposes, yeah.

Matin Maulawizada [00:35:00]:
Yeah. So, I realized that I can’t continue. I tried it for a whole year, and it never got better, and it was one of those things that I’m like, “I guess I’m going to have to do something else,” and then I took my Master’s in molecular biology and I stopped. Thank god I didn’t get a PhD on that, because it was like something I really didn’t like. I loved the process of creating the formula that I did for my Master’s, it was patented and Genetic uses it, so it was really fun to do that. I was part of a project that create pulmozyme, which is a cystic fibrosis drug. So, creating and designing that with my boss was really fun, because it was like…at one point I was very nervous, I had to give a presentation in front of all of these post-docs and gigantic scientists, and I went to him and I’m like, “I’m so nervous; I don’t think I can talk in public,” and he looked at me and he goes, “You know what? You know more about this molecule,” folic acid, it was, “You know more about folic acid pathways than anybody in that room, so this is your molecule. Whatever you say, they’re going to buy it, so you just relax and say what you know.” I was like, “Oh my god, this is so, literally, micro-specialized,” because when I went there, I literally was the authority on that product. So, just designing that and meeting the media, the media was supposed to make the sale lines that were making the protein, and it doubled their sale cycle, so they literally doubled the money they could harvest in one time instead of half, so it was a huge project and it was really creative and beautiful, but once my project was done, it became a routine, and the routine part I really did not like, because it’s very isolating, I mean, I was living in a room not bigger than this and it was my lab and nobody was allowed in or out. I had an amazing server system, so I played music all day long and literally babysat cells. So, it became very isolating, and it's a very different type of life.

Kelly Kovack [00:36:58]:
Well, your career is sort of the antithesis of that, right? You’re around people all the time now.

Matin Maulawizada [00:37:01]:
All the time. Yeah, it’s like – and, it’s what I love. So, it was very difficult for me to just be alone that long.

Kelly Kovack [00:37:08]:
Do you think that your background in sort of science and biology gives you a unique perspective to evaluating products that…

Matin Maulawizada [00:37:18]:
It helped me a lot with getting contracts, for sure. They didn’t listen to me like they should, but it does help, and it’s a good PR for the brands when they introduce me, so it’s like, it gives them some kind of an edge that, “Oh, this guy knows what he’s talking about,” but at the same time, sadly, so far, it hasn’t been like, “Oh, how do we clean this?” I joined a brand with the intention of cleaning up, in five years, cleaning up the products and it can get less toxic. Everything is toxic, let’s put it this way. There’s no such thing…

Kelly Kovack [00:37:52]:
Well, you were talking about clean beauty before it was even a thing.

Matin Maulawizada [00:37:57]:
Exactly, and it was one of those things that, I mean, toxicity is a real thing, and the saddest thing is until…as human beings, we are the kind of animals that until we get sick, and until we experience it, we don’t believe it, and by that time, it’s too late. I even started a project with a friend of mine who was really an advocate to clean beauty because she had skin cancer, and we started this line for a younger audience, and nobody was interested. These kids, literally, the only thing they were interested in is how to highlight and contour their faces.

Kelly Kovack [00:38:28]:
             Well, I was talking to someone recently, and I hadn’t really thought about this, but that there’s actually, I guess, an uptick in skin cancer, on the face particularly, and people are beginning to think that, you know, before, we would put sunscreen on, but now there’s sunscreen in everything we use: in our moisturizers, in our makeup.

Matin Maulawizada [00:38:53]:
And sunscreen is one of the most toxic products.

Kelly Kovack [00:38:54]:
Right, so we’re layering chemicals, and I had never really thought about the impact of these hybrid products and sort of these, you know, I guess the layering of sunscreen.

Matin Maulawizada [00:39:08]:
Yeah. Well, sunscreen is – there was a study that I read early on, and that’s one of the reasons I left one of my favorite collaborations that I had with a product line, because they insisted on sunscreen in everything, including lip products, and I was really against it for lips. I read a really interesting article, this is when I was still a molecular biologist. There was a study done in England with children with freckles, and they were a group of children with freckles that played outside with sunscreen, and one group without sunscreen, then five years later, they looked at their skin, and the ones that had more pre-cancerous freckles were the ones that had sunscreen on, and the reason was that they didn’t get the warning that, “Ouch, this hurts,” let me go in the shade. They were exposed to the sun all day long without the hurt, but they would still get the harmful rays. So, sunscreen, really, it’s a – this is really, really controversial to say, and people will hate me to say it, I honestly don’t believe in it.

Kelly Kovack [00:40:11]:
I mean, I have – you’re not the first person…

Matin Maulawizada [00:40:16]:
Good, I’m glad that somebody else will…

Kelly Kovack [00:40:18]:
I think it is we tend to forget how we started as humans and how we evolved. Like, we lived for thousands of years without sunscreen. But, yes, we have sort of these environmental sort of issues, but…

Matin Maulawizada [00:40:32]:
There are gorgeous oils that will give you sort of an eight or a ten naturally, and there’s no chemicals in it. Honestly, if you’re that pale and you’re going to go to the beach for 12 hours, you have no business being on the beach naked for 12 hours. No. One pm, nobody should be on the beach completely buck naked.

Kelly Kovack [00:40:58]:
It’s just common sense.

Matin Maulawizada [00:40:59]:
There’s no reason for it. Wear a hat, wear a long-sleeved t-shirt. There’s no reason for you to expose yourself to that kind of sun all day long. So, that’s my problem with this whole…but, it’s such a gigantic industry that everybody is looking for sunscreen, every skincare advocate pushes, “Don’t forget your sunscreen.” I’m like, okay, it’s the middle of December in New York City, it’s completely gray, of course we get sunrays coming through the clouds, but you’re working 10 hours a day inside the building. I’m sorry, you don’t need sunscreen for fluorescent lights.

Kelly Kovack [00:41:25]:
Well, I’m also – there are now sort of a new group of products that are kind of environmental protection. I’ve seen a new trend, and I think it’s an algae ingredient that provides blue light protection.

Matin Maulawizada [00:41:40]:
That’s way better. I know someone who is actually allergic to indoor lights. She had to use a screen because she would turn hot and red on her face. It’s the only I have known. But, if you have that kind of allergy, I get it, but really, 90% of women, there’s no reason to wear it everyday.

Kelly Kovack [00:41:57]:
Well, you know, in terms of sort of clean beauty, I think clean beauty kind of brings together your advocacy and sort of kind of what drives you, which is sort of this truthfulness. Where do you think clean beauty is going to go? Because right now, everyone is saying they’re doing it, and you and I both know…

Matin Maulawizada [00:42:16]:
It’s become a hashtag more than anything.

Kelly Kovack [00:42:18]:
Yeah, that you know, on one hand, you have brands saying, “Oh, we have an algorithm that allows us to develop products in three weeks,” and it’s like, well, that’s impossible, because you have to do stability for 90 days, so I’m not sure how that works, but you know, do you think…how are we going to get to the truthfulness that I think as an industry, we owe consumers?

Matin Maulawizada [00:42:42]:
I think we have some good leaders in the market, the brands that are seriously impactful, and they’re not only looking at the clean formulation. They’re looking into clean packaging and environmental impact of makeup, and not only that, the workforce: how are they treated? Who is harvesting these ingredients?

Kelly Kovack [00:43:02]:
Especially with mica.

Matin Maulawizada [00:43:03]:
Exactly, with mica, that’s a big deal right now, because children were used in those mines. So, there’s some brands that are only sourcing with mines that are certified with adult workers. So, it’s like, you know, beauty is not all fluff; there is some real harm that is being done by producing an abundant amount of products for people to look good. First of all, I think there’s way too much in the market; there’s too many products in the market, there’s no reason for all of these things.

Kelly Kovack [00:43:31]:
And, do you think that – you know, I had someone from the Huffington Post did an interview and asked me about VSCO Girls, and someone from Piper Jaffrey actually downgraded Estee Lauder and said that the decline in color cosmetics was because of VSCO girls, and I was just like, first of all, I think it’s a great tagline or like, you know, a sound byte, but I don’t think 13-year old girls have been the reason that we’ve seen the rise of an entire category, or the decline of an entire category, but I think color cosmetics, social media influencers, was kind of like this perfect storm, and you know, color was the easiest beauty category because it’s so visual, and you just have launch after launch after launch after collaboration, and eventually you had like a glut, there was too much product, there was too many brands, and the retailers were over assorted, and what happens? The sales go down.

Matin Maulawizada [00:44:33]:
It makes sense. That’s exactly the kind of noise that we were talking about earlier with social media. It’s like, I don’t want to see content for the sake of content, I want to see something interesting, or nothing at all, just relax, have a day off. You don’t need to have three posts for me.

Kelly Kovack [00:44:48]:
No, for me, I think, you know, I’m always of the mindset of people often say, “Oh, 30 second videos are trending,” “No, it’s long-format videos that are trending,” and I’m of the mindset of like, content is whatever it needs to be, just make sure it’s good. And, if it’s good…

Matin Maulawizada [00:45:10]:
Make it authentic, make it something you really believe in, not just for the sake of doing it. That’s the problem, and I think color cosmetic got to the point that – first of all, they just put anything with a name on it and it sells, and it’s completely…I mean, long-wear lipstick, I’m sorry, who needs to have lipstick on for 16 hours? No one. No one. And, it doesn’t last 16 hours or 18 hours or 24 hours nowadays, and there’s no reason for it. The only way to make it plaster onto the lips like that is to put extremely toxic aromatics in it, and it’s literally – you might as well just ingest cancer, like tumors that are removed from people, that would be healthier than putting those lipsticks on. And it’s lipstick, so you’re eating it, you’re licking your lips, and it’s just very dangerous to put that on the thinnest skin on the body. So, it’s that kind of trends coming in, and it’s staying and taking advantage of the youth and the younger audience, because it’s cheaper, these women, they wear it for fun, they wear it for a picture, and they get hooked on it, and it’s…and that’s who they are taking the money from, and honestly, it really disturbs me, and it hurts me to see that. It’s just…there’s certain companies as we were talking about going towards clean, like Cradle created a group of makeup artists and environmentalists, and they’re not about all organic, it’s about non-toxic, and responsible sourcing. I think they are getting more and more into a true, authentic nature.

Kelly Kovack [00:46:41]:
And, I think retailers have a role to play in this.

Matin Maulawizada [00:46:45]:
Absolutely. Whether it’s online or physical retailers, but not a lot of them are responsible in sourcing. So, every brand, of course, they have their standard of clean and what they think is clean and what’s not, but one of the most strange ones is the one I see over there. They do a really good job of leaving everything out, and even products that I thought were clean were refused when I recommended to them. So, I…that’s where I stop.

Kelly Kovack [00:47:15]:
You know, I think the other sort of issue is around clean is this whole greenwashing that we’re seeing, and I just recently – I think it was a couple weeks ago, Cult Beauty partnered with this block-chain company called Provenance. They’re actually creating a kind of a platform where brands – there’s two forms of validation. One is third-party validated, and the other is more substantiated, but that Cult Beauty is, I think they’ve partnered with ten brands that are using block-chain to verify their claims, because I think so many brands are just left to make claims with no substantiation.

Matin Maulawizada [00:47:56]:
Exactly. Well, I think that’s what transparency is going to be the next wave of what would survive, and sooner or later, people are going to buy into like really realizing what’s healthy and what’s not, because skin is the biggest organ on your body, whatever you put on it, it goes in it, and whether you get sick or not, at some point, you’re going to be bombarded with enough information that you would actually buy into it and really think twice about putting anything on your body.

Kelly Kovack [00:48:26]:
So, I want one last thing that I want to make sure that we talk about because I know that it’s very important to you is your advocacy and the non-profit that you set up called “Afghan Hands” which makes the most beautiful scarves.

Matin Maulawizada [00:48:39]:
Oh, thank you so much. 

Kelly Kovack [00:48:41]:
But, can you talk about sort of why it was important for you to start it, and kind of what it does and the intention?

Matin Maulawizada [00:48:47]:
Well, when Afghanistan opened again after the Taliban, it was a very hopeful time for all of us, and I went to Afghanistan, and it was shocking – people were dancing on the street, literally. I went right before the New Years, Afghan New Years, which is March 22nd, and people were outside playing music in their cars loud…

Kelly Kovack [00:49:07]:
Because with the Taliban, you couldn’t play music, right?

Matin Maulawizada [00:49:10]:
Yeah. It was forbidden, dance was forbidden. So, everyone was on the street, it was like a big block party in every neighborhood. It was kind of amazing, I was crying every day from happiness and from sadness, because the city was destroyed; nothing was left. The Taliban didn’t destroy the city, you know, the factions fighting against each other did, and then the Taliban took the life out of the city and women were not allowed out, and all of the sudden you would see men and women on the street. Still, burkas were strong because they lived with it for so long and they were afraid of going out without it, but there were still some women without it, and then men, I mean literally, they were dancing on the streets, foreigners were walking around shopping, it was just a really hopeful time. This lasted until the Iraq War started and when Americans kind of put Afghans on the backburner again and focused on the Middle East, but for that period of time, it was flourishing, and there was 30 years of women not being able to go to school, before – during the war, it was the war efforts, women were being kidnapped and there were some cases of gang rape by the Russian soldiers and their bodies were thrown back out by their door, so it was that kind of – I don’t know if it was a rumor or a fact, but things like that were circulating, so people were holding their girls inside so they couldn’t go to school, they couldn’t go shopping, they were literally imprisoned in these compounds they were living in. So, I realized there were literally two generations of women that did not know how to read or write unless their parents taught them, and most families, they had more to worry about than teaching literacy to anybody. I realized that these women, they really needed to be somehow literate, at least to read a sign, to read where the bus is going, to read where the doctor’s office is, to read a document and not just put their thumbprint on something, they could actually sign. So, those things were important. Also, another thing we wanted to teach was their rights as women according to the culture, according to religion, so they couldn’t come and say, “Well, the Quran says you cannot walk outside the store,” and they would say, “No, show me. Where in the Quran does it say this?” because it’s really…it’s just word of mouth, people use religion against women to imprison them. So, those were the reasons I started thinking about doing a literacy program in Afghanistan. So, Afghan Hands is essentially a literature program, and it’s very grassroots, it’s tiny. So, we had five to ten women at the beginning, we started with that, and by the time I left Afghanistan, in 20 days, we had 25, and then it went to a hundred within a year, and then it went to 200 the next year. So, some of them move in and out, so we’ve kept a body of 75 to 100 in Kabul. We had another 100 in Jalalabad, which is eastern Afghanistan, but security was so bad, I literally…I was in danger of traveling there, and I’m not an NGO that is protected or has the…what do you call it, the USAID money or anything like that, so I don’t have security, I mean, I go as a local. So, it was dangerous to go, for me. So, I had to give that to someone else so I concentrate in Kabul, and we survived for many, many years and it was really flourishing beautifully. At least, for me, success was if the project made enough money on its own to keep these 100 families fed and clothed and educated, that was my goal, that was my Afghan goal, it still is. Unfortunately, security, there was a big bomb that was called “the mother of bombs” that dropped three years ago in Kabul that really struck the city to its core, and people left; my suppliers left, and I couldn’t get things in and out, so I said, one time, products back, so up to last year, we still were producing products to sell on the market here, but it’s been a year that they only operate within Kabul and they cannot operate outside, because it’s just, we do not have materials. In Afghanistan, you cannot just go and buy the best wool, the best thread, that could be considered high-quality in America. So, it’s kind of at a standstill when it comes to the import business, but we are just operating within Afghanistan for now. So, it’s been, you know, there’s a famous Afghan song, it says “one step forward, two steps back,” that’s what we’re doing. So, as long as we’re still going a little bit further and forward, I’m happy, but it’s been a sore subject for my psyche and for my soul, because it had the promise of really becoming a phenomenon, and it’s still – the model is amazing, so we might have to do it somewhere else in the world that is safer that we can actually operate freely, and women could operate freely, but Afghanistan, unfortunately, it was one of those tough situations, but I’m not giving it up, it’s just we couldn’t expand the way I was expecting and hoping to do.

Kelly Kovack [00:54:29]:
Wow. I think that, you know, what you created with Afghan Hands, it’s so important that I think, you know, we’re sometimes so detached; I mean, you obviously weren’t, it’s sort of where you’re from and you have a connection there, but I think kind of as an industry, one of the things that kind of makes me happy and I think that we’re also at a point in our career where we have the resources that can leverage to not only sort of make money and make a living, but actually affect change, because I know that you used kind of your network to help promote it and build it.

Matin Maulawizada [00:55:09]:
Absolutely, yeah. I never wanted to do celebrity makeup, it was the weirdest thing. I wanted to do fashion, and the more fashion I wanted, the more celebrities I got. I had no idea who they were, what they were doing, what movies they were in, how famous they were. I literally never watched television, I hardly watched movies at that time when I first moved to New York, and then – but, I kept getting booked for them, so at some point, I just gave up on that, okay, this is my field, this is what I’m doing, and later in life, when I started Afghan Hands, and then, you know, like Angelina wore one, and it got People Magazine, and I was like, “Oh my god, this is why I was brought on this path instead of that path.” It was interesting.

Kelly Kovack [00:55:55]:
Everything happens for a reason.

Matin Maulawizada [00:55:56]:
It was for a reason. It was really interesting. So, that was like a lightbulb went on, you know, like when your life kind of makes sense all of the sudden. So, that was – and, another thing, it was one of those projects that I started…so, I initially funded it with the seed money that I put from the money that I saved, and then what I did was, there were two kinds of clients: there were clients that I loved to do, and there were clients that I really didn’t want to do, whether they were a look that I didn’t like or appreciate or a style that I didn’t appreciate, so I basically put the money with the clients that I didn’t want towards Afghan Hands to fund it.

Kelly Kovack [00:56:37]:
Oh, interesting.

Matin Maulawizada [00:56:38]:
And, the clients that I wanted, I kept the money for myself, and it made my job a lot easier.

Kelly Kovack [00:56:45]:
Interesting, because there was a reason to take those jobs beyond…

Matin Maulawizada [00:56:49]:
There was a reason, and if they were negative about it or I didn’t like their energy, I would just roll it off my shoulder, like, “You know what, this is going to feed a hundred families for two weeks.”

Kelly Kovack [00:57:00]:
That’s amazing.

Matin Maulawizada [00:57:00]:
So, that’s how I viewed the jobs and the dollar amounts, and it kept my sanity, because I was really getting burnt out, and I was not enjoying my job. So, it was kind of a selfish endeavor, as well.

Kelly Kovack [00:57:13]:
So, Matin, just in wrapping up, first of all, thank you so much for coming here, it’s always so fun to talk to you. If there was one piece of advice that you could give to sort of a burgeoning makeup artist or one of those people working so hard sort of on the sales floor that could make a really profound impact into their career, what would it be?

Matin Maulawizada [00:57:38]:
I’m an old-school type of makeup artist, so I would say find someone that you really like, their technique and their looks, and then assess them. I completely buy into true education and really like, learning your craft instead of just winging it and say that, “Oh, but practice, I’ll get better and better,” because it’s an environment that is very different. You want to learn how to do makeup in different environments and different faces and different situations. So, I still believe in a proper assistant job. Yeah, you don’t make money, it’s not gratifying, it’s very hard work, but it’s something that is very valuable at the end, when you really are accountable for a campaign or a look for a show or something like that, then you really – it pays off to know all of that, as opposed to nowadays, you do a YouTube Channel and an Instagram page that is cute, and you’re pretty, so you get a lot of likes and you get jobs from it, which is wonderful, but you still need to really learn how to…

Kelly Kovack [00:58:48]:
And, it’s a craft.

Matin Maulawizada [00:58:49]:
It’s a craft. It’s a job. It’s a proper job, it’s not just fantasy. So, I would like to have them properly trained for that.

Kelly Kovack [00:58:57]:
Well, Matin, thank you for coming here today.

Matin Maulawizada [00:59:01]:
I was so happy to see you! Thank you so much for having me.

Kelly Kovack [00:59:06]:
Thank you.

For Matin, it’s a matter of truth. He’s both inspirational and aspirational. Coming to this country as an immigrant speaking no English as a teenager, his career in beauty started as a way to help subsidize his Master’s degree in molecular biology. After a brief time working as a research scientist, he made a career-changing pivot that put him on a wildly different path. While brands continue to increase influencer budgets, the concern around credibility, reputation, and the quality of followers are top of mind. Matin’s relationships are not transactions, they’re partnerships, and the influence he wields is built on a portfolio of work that represents years of honing his craft. The real power in his reach is profound, and it can’t be qualified simply by the number of likes and followers. Influencers have proliferated the marketing of beauty products across categories and will continue to have their place in the marketing ecosystem, but I believe Matin’s type of influence is what consumers crave. They want meaningful and real content. They want expertise, not advertisements. So, in the end, it’s a matter of truth. I’m Kelly Kovack, see you next time.

Matin Maulawizada [01:00:38]:
Hi, I’m Matin, and to me, what matters is the truth: the truth about products that I use, products that I post, and products that are authentic to me.

Kelly Kovack [01:00:51]:
It’s a Matter Of is a production of Beauty Matter LLC, copyright 2020. You can find more content and insights on and follow us on social media @BeautyMatterOfficial.