Mona Kattan Created KAYALI To Empower Individuality Through Scent

Fragrances, for many beauty connoisseurs, are more than just uniquely shaped bottles of liquid gold that make everyone smell irresistible. Scents are often linked to memories, special moments or people in one's life. For Mona Kattan, the creator of KAYALI fragrances, scent has always been a major factor in her life, from her childhood to her wedding day, inspiring the The Wedding Silk Santal, 36 scent.

Describing the brand as "playful, luxurious and approachable," Kattan's love for perfume extends beyond herself. She aims to share her joy of crafting scents with her customers as a way to encourage them to pause for a second and indulge in acts of self-care, self-love and fearlessness through fine fragrances.

Kattan's successful fragrance brand might be her first solo beauty venture, but she's no stranger to building a beauty empire. She and her sister Huda Kattan have worked together to build the beloved cosmetics brand Huda Beauty from the ground up. Now, Kattan has taken her wits to work on her true passion and "realize [her] wildest scent dreams through KAYALI." She shares her excitement with Hypebae about launching 20 fragrances in less than six years, which is a major feat in the industry.

Below, Kattan details her special connection to the fragrance industry, her top five KAYALI scents, launching 20 fragrances in less than six years and more.

For more fragrance news, check out our coverage of Drake's "Carby Musk" fragrance oil.

KAYALI, Fragrance, Beauty, Perfume, Huda Beauty, Mona Kattan,
KAYALI, Fragrance, Beauty, Perfume, Huda Beauty, Mona Kattan,

On the meaning behind the name of the brand

KAYALI means "my imagination" in Arabic. The brand is heavily inspired by my Middle Eastern heritage and the art of layering fragrances to create your mood. Whether you want to feel confident, comforted, happy or energetic, you can find a scent combination to suit that mood. We want people to feel empowered when they use KAYALI and to use fragrance as an act of self-love and self-care.

On the what inspired the brand

For as long as I can remember, I've always been obsessed with fragrances. I always say fragrance is like a bookmark in your life, as your sense of smell is directly linked to the area of the brain related to memories and emotions.

When I moved to Dubai over 20 years ago, my love for fragrance became even stronger and it has played a major role in the expression of the brand, from our iconic diamond shaped bottle design to the rituals and traditions surrounding scents and layering. I wanted everyone who wore KAYALI to feel like the diamond that they are. That's the beauty of fragrance – it's such a special and unique experience for each wearer.

On her earliest fragrance-inspired memories

When I was younger, my mom had this beautiful jasmine-scented fragrance that she always wore. Every time I smell jasmine, I think of her. My father will randomly give me jasmine as he knows how much I love the smell. Other than that, I think the smell of vanilla birthday cake is one of my favorite childhood memories, which inspired our cult fave, Vanilla, 28.

KAYALI, Fragrance, Beauty, Perfume, Huda Beauty, Mona Kattan,
KAYALI, Fragrance, Beauty, Perfume, Huda Beauty, Mona Kattan,

On fragrance as a connection to personal experiences

I associate almost everything to scent. Vanilla is a big one for me as it reminds me of the smell of birthday cake and my childhood, which is why it was part of my first ever launch for KAYALI. It's really a huge part of our KAYALI DNA. Sandalwood reminds me of my husband and the connection to his Sudanese heritage. Pink pepper reminds me of falling in love. Coconut reminds me of a beachy holiday, which is why I created Utopia Vanilla Coco, 21, whereas oud grounds me and always brings me back home.

On her top 5 Kayali fragrances 

That's like asking to pick your favorite child! It really depends on my mood and what I'm feeling that day, but I have a special connection with Sweet Diamond Pink Pepper, 25, I always say that this is me in a bottle – soft yet strong. I always have my Vanilla, 28 on me because I adore the smell of vanilla and I find it to be a perfect layering topper for most fragrances.

These days, I'm obsessed with the new addition to my Oudgasm Collection, Smoky Oud, 07. It's a super intense, bold, sexy and enigmatic scent. I think these days, I reach out for those the most, the last 2 fragrances vary a lot. I'm testing new samples that shall not be mentioned so, I'm always reaching for something different to find the perfect layering combination!

KAYALI, Fragrance, Beauty, Perfume, Huda Beauty, Mona Kattan,
KAYALI, Fragrance, Beauty, Perfume, Huda Beauty, Mona Kattan,

On fragrance tips 

Scent layering doesn't just begin with your perfumes; it starts with being hydrated to have a nice supple base to layer. It starts with your shower gel, your shampoo and your body cream. I would say to always start with a hydrating cream and always spray your perfumes on your pulse points. Don't forget to spritz a little on your clothes as well; your skin goes through different phases throughout the day but scent will always stick to your clothes and hair.

For hair, I like to either use our Déjà Vu White Flower, 57 Hair Mist or to burn some perfumed wood chips, which we call bakhoor. I let the smoke scent my hair because that lasts a very long time. My tip for layering fragrances is that there are no rules, make sure to have fun with it. I usually recommend layering fragrances from most to least intense.

On deciding what scents KAYALI launches

Inspiration can come from anywhere; it can be from a song, a mood, a color or a place. Vanilla Utopia Coco, 21 came from my desire to escape to a beautiful holiday destination; The Wedding Silk Santal, 36 came from one of the most important moments in my life, highlighted by the sandalwood note. Once I have an idea, I create a moodboard and work with our perfume house and their incredible noses to start on development of the fragrance until we get to a formulation or fragrance that can embody the mood or inspiration.