Meet SA's beauty mogul Rabia Ghoor who started an empire from her bedroom

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Rabia Ghoor. (Photo: SJ van Zyl)
Rabia Ghoor. (Photo: SJ van Zyl)

INTERVIEW: News24's Bashiera Parker speaks to Rabia Ghoor, South African beauty mogul and the founder of swiitchbeauty.

Rabia Ghoor is a self-made South African beauty mogul with a growing empire which she started as a teenager.

"I started...from a four-square-metre area in my bedroom. I was fourteen years old at the time," the swiitchbeauty founder writes in a note on her website. It's written in a tone synonymous with the brand's pastel pink and white packaging.

swiitch, spelled with a lower case s and two i's, is all about making "things that do what they say they're going to do [for] South African humans on the internet."

Rabia - just like swiitchbeauty's packaging, branding and presence online - is vibrant and relatable and her products cater to a whole new generation of South African consumers.

"I guess most makeup that's made isn't made by the user; that's what makes swiitch special," Rabia, who dropped out of school in Grade 10 to run her own company, says.

The 22-year-old tells us about swiitchbeauty's newest product – a lip tint – that'll have consumers flocking to the site during #swiitchweek: "In line with my lazy girl era, we are releasing some really hydrating lip tints in four shades called #AirBalm. Just quick, easy sticks that hydrate and give you a nice 'lil tint."

Introducing the shades: "It's an era", "It's soft life", "It's provocative", and "It's giving", the swiitchbeauty Instagram account shared earlier this week just in time for Black Friday: "Imagine somebody asks you what lipstick you're wearing, and you're like, 'it's giving', and they're like, 'It's giving what?' And you're like, 'no, it's just GIVING'."

We sat down with Rabia, catching up on swiitch's plans for the future, her feud with Halle Berry, and more – and it's giving Kylie Jenner.

Tell us a little more about your frenemy Halle Berry?

It's possibly the highlight of my career. I'm happy for it all to end here. LOL. For context - I tweeted something about Halle Berry in 2018, and homegirl kept the receipts to clapback on Jimmy Kimmel's "Mean Tweets" TV show. An "L" I truly was thrilled to take. (L according to Urban Dictionary: "Catching an L means catching a loss. In this sense, you catch an L if you say something stupid or, if you try to sound intelligent but are proved wrong.")

What inspired swiitchbeauty?

It was 2014, and the beauty offering in South Africa was abysmal, the internet was on the come up, and I thought, 'Why not?' There weren't any 'cool' DTC (direct-to-consumer) beauty brands using the internet to connect with consumers – a trend I saw making waves internationally.

I just want to put it out there: Some have called you the South African Kylie Jenner. Have you heard that before and how do you feel about it?

I just want to put it out there: I have a killer Kylie impression, so if you ever see me IRL, please ask me to do it. It's my only party trick.

#swiitchweek is coming up, and we're super excited! Anything you can share or tease us with?

[RABIA IN KYLIE JENNER MONOTONE:] I'm super excited for #swiitchweek this year. We've been working really hard to prepare, and we're SUPER excited for you guys to see what we've got planned!

I've been taking collagen before bed for the last couple months, and that's really, really changed my sleep/skin/hair game. I've done some research on it, and it's really contradictory, so I don't know if it's a placebo, but I am having the most restful sleep of my life, so there's that... I am SO lazy post-pandemic, so I really just be doing the absolute bare minimum. I make sure I use sunscreen but really, not much else. If it's ever makeup, it's literally like concealer, brow gel, mascara, lip tint and MAYBE blush.
-- Rabia Ghoor on her daily beauty and makeup routine

How does swiitchbeauty cater to a uniquely South African audience?

swiitch is for the people, man, it always has been. Our product development process is really personal and in flux at any given time based on the needs and wants of our community. We don't just launch products and hope they sell; we work alongside our community at every stage of the production process to ensure whatever it is we're making is something that, one, is a genuine need and, two, does what it says it's going to do.

Can you talk about the importance of supporting local?

I feel like South Africans have always had to aspire to international brands in the past, and that's changing, thanks to the internet. Cool people are doing and making cool shit, and they have a platform. Supporting local isn't an obligation anymore; it's a pleasure, which is so wonderful to see.  

(Photo: SJ van Zyl. Make-up artist: Andrea van den Houten)

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