Alvin Thomas meets celebrity Joelle Mardinian whose beauty tips have brightened up the lives of her devoted online followers.
What’s in a few numbers, you ask? Well, with 5.6 million followers on Instagram, 2.4 million followers on Facebook and 319,000 (at the time of going to press) followers on Twitter, Joelle Mardinian is far from your average social media influencer. Who you’re looking at here, folks, is a celebrity, television personality, entrepreneur and one of the most influential Arab women in the world today.
And if you saw last week’s issue of Y Magazine, then you’d know that Joelle was in town for the signing ceremony of her new Clinica Joelle cosmetic surgery clinic; and that is exactly where we catch hold of her (with a lot of help from her friend, Lina) for an interview.
Surprisingly, however, Joelle, who is now tired after her long day – which included headlining the Influencer Marketing Summit in Dubai and then flying here for Clinica Joelle – is still ready for an interview.
And without any further delay, we sit down to have a chat.
Joelle originally hails from Beirut in Lebanon, but spent much of her life in London, where she grew up.
“My love interest for fashion and make-up grew when I was a little girl,” she laughs. “It is in my blood. My mum is a make-up artist, and I think that’s where my love affair with make-up started. But I didn’t even put on lipstick until I was about 16 years old because I was a very ‘girly’ girl.
“But I always loved make-up. I love everything about it, as it helps define everything that is beautiful. The difference that make-up can make is amazing, and I love to teach women that make-up is not just about beauty and hiding your imperfections, but, rather, about looking healthy and being confident.”
Today, the 41-year-old star is also the host of the makeover TV show, Joelle, which has been airing on MBC1 for the past 13 years – making it one of the longest-running shows of its kind worldwide. With a daily audience of 120 million, it also one of the most-watched shows in the Middle East. Her show has featured celebrity interviews with the likes of fashion designer Peter Dubdas, Italian fashion journalist Anna Del Russo, Kim Kardashian, actress Eva Longoria and Ivanka Trump.
Quite a CV, right? But as they say, “With great power comes great responsibility”. And Joelle, who is also a mother of two young kids, says that she is more than up to the task of juggling her roles.
“I am only one person at the end of the day,” laughs Joelle.
“But the show has been running for 13 years, and it is a very hard show to produce as a lot of contestants have to stay in the show for long and sometimes up to two years. So it is a huge responsibility.
“When I set out to study make-up artistry, I never imagined this amount of success. I worked for two years in a salon just to grow my portfolio, making no money at all. But it never stopped me and it was all in passion. Everything that I do comes from passion. It’s never been about money: it’s been about success and to prove that I am capable of being a role model for the younger generation, to make them believe in themselves.
“For the first eight years of my career, I gave up all of my time. I remember my friends and family used to travel on holiday, and I used to stay back in Dubai working through the summer and the heat.
“But then, five years ago, I realised that my family and my children were growing up. And all I wanted to do was to spend more time with my children. So I take time off from my calendar for my kids to spend 24/7 with them.
“I don’t take nannies or maids. We travel to some place that they can enjoy like London or Switzerland. I am a very hands-on mum.” But, she is quick to point out that all her success and fame isn’t what makes her.
“The way that I have suffered is that I don’t have as many friends as many,” she says. Looking at her friend Lina with tears in her eyes, she adds: “I love Lina and I respect her. She is not just an employee, she is my sister; my heart and soul and I can never imagine not having her. And my team: they are my friends and my support system.”
This passion and dedication to her brand and her family is what she says has made her the woman she is today. But Joelle’s success doesn’t just end with her TV show or her cosmetic clinic brands, Maison de Joelle and Clinica Joelle, either. Joelle has represented – and featured in global TV commercials – with brands such as Max Factor, Pantene and Braun.
In 2010, she was the recipient of the Arab Woman of the Year award by L’Officiel Middle East, and was also named Businesswoman of the Year and one of the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by CEO Middle East and Arabian Business. Joelle was also selected as one of the world’s 500 Most Influential Arabs by Forbes.
The entrepreneur began her business career with Maison de Joelle in 2008. She currently owns 11 salons in the region, and is currently expanding in Oman in partnership with Perfect Medical Center, a company owned by the SABCO Group.
Talking about her new venture in Oman, which will begin operations in July in Shatti Al Qurum, she says: “The bigger I grow, the more opportunities I get. And I can’t let go of opportunities. I am someone who excels at them. God has given me so many opportunities, and I cannot sit back and relax. I have to make them a reality before striving to making them successful. Once that happens then it has to be maintained.
“Opening in Oman is the right decision and I am sure that it will be a success story. I will not rest until I make it a major success.
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