Katie Jane Hughes, the British celebrity makeup artist behind Hailey Bieber’s signature dewy look, is launching her own brand. Hughes first earned a following by doing makeup tutorials on Instagram, where she now has 875,000 followers. Her makeup looks have also earned her 58,000 YouTube subscribers and 162,000 TikTok followers.
On Tuesday, Hughes debuted KJH Brand, which is being sold via direct-to-consumer e-commerce. At the center of the brand are kits of interchangeable products that work together to create customized looks. Dropping first was the $75 Hyper Shine High Lite Kit, consisting of the Hyper Shine Serum, the No.1 Brush and the Hyper Shine Lite Pigment in four shades.
According to Hughes, the highly pigmented highlighter can be used alone or with the serum to add shine or create a more seamless look for those with drier skin. She said she launched with a highlighter as it’s an accessible product. Hughes is self-funding the brand.
“The reason why I decided to come out with products, even though the market is crowded, is that people can learn and take information in various ways from different people,” said Hughes. “The way that I educate seems to click in a lot of people’s heads, based on the way that I demonstrate how to do the looks.”
Hughes is bringing that expertise and her tutorials to the brand’s social channels. KJH Brand’s Instagram account already has 76,200 followers.
“[My following] boils down to education and consistently being available to my community, whether that’s in DMS, through the brand page or through my own,” said Hughes. “It’s noticing different questions and then being proactive about making videos that tailor to those questions.”
For each product launch, Hughes plans to roll out educational content clips on the brand’s website featuring makeup artists from her community. In time, that will expand to non-makeup artists, to show how they use the product differently, she said.
Opening the door for experimentation in makeup is important to Hughes, she said. For Hailey Bieber’s appearance at the Tiffany & Co. flagship re-opening in April, for example, Hughes added the brand’s Hyper Shine highlighter to Bieber’s ears to highlight their top points. Hughes has worked with Bieber for the last five years, since accepting a last-minute booking in L.A.
Hughes famously does not use a filter when posting makeup looks on Instagram, and her YouTube features uncut and unedited videos. Her series “Uncut by KJH” has over 100,000 views on the platform. “I turn my iPhone horizontal and then basically just shoot for however long [the look] takes, with no edits, no cuts,” she said. “So you get to see the good, the bad and everything in between. It demystifies that editing process that [is used for] most short-form content on Instagram and Tiktok.” According to Hughes, because social media algorithms favor edited content, many makeup fans find that translating featured product applications to real life is a challenge.
KJH Brand’s head of brand, April Ramirez, said that the power of the brand is in Hughes’s experience and approach. “The consumer immediately has a greater level of trust in expert-founded brands,” she said. “Katie has been engaging with her community on social media for over a decade, and with that, she’s built a sense of trust and loyalty with these individuals, many of whom she communicates with regularly in DM’s. That personal interaction creates a strong bond.” The brand is exclusively marketing through organic social posts, out of the gate.
Moving forward, the brand will regularly drop products that work with the serum and highlighter. The next drops will be cheek and lip products, in spring 2024, followed by brow products.
“What motivates me to create is to shift someone’s perspective on what they’ve been told they can’t do — for their skin, their eye shape or for their age,” said Hughes. “Somebody being like, “You can’t do a hooded eyeliner because your eyes have a heavy fold,” is crap. There’s a way for everybody to achieve what they want — in life and makeup and beyond. I get such a kick out of helping someone figure that out.”