A suburban girl from the small town of Sirajganj became heavily infatuated with makeup at a young age. Her dream was to become one of the best makeup artists in the world. People in her neighbourhood initially laughed at her aspirations, but at the same time they also knew her to be the best beautician of the area.
Now she is halfway to achieving her dream. She is the first Bangladeshi beauty influencer to achieve a 'Golden Play Button' from YouTube. Shahnaz Shimul (34), is one of the most viewed Bangladeshi influencers and her beauty tips are adored by women of all age groups.
Shahnaz is a British-Bangladeshi influencer, who started her YouTube journey in 2014. Back then the Bangladeshi beauty industry was not on par to compete with international beauty standards.
Nonetheless, Shahnaz's easy makeup tutorials and affordable hacks garnered her millions of viewers. Currently, she has over 1.35 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.4 million followers on Facebook.
From creating content to video editing, everything is done by her. But despite Shahnaz's many identities, she is a makeup artist first and foremost.
"I prefer to introduce myself as a makeup artist first, then as a YouTuber and finally as a businesswoman," she said to The Business Standard. "I never thought I would receive so much support within a short span of time. But, as a passionate makeup enthusiast, I was determined to build a respectful position in the beauty industry."
Shahnaz Shimul is one of the oldest YouTubers of Bangladesh and she has a loyal fanbase. Her content focuses on both makeup and skincare. Moreover, she reviews products diligently to guide her follower base into buying what is best for them.
"I always wanted to do something with makeup. I realised there was a lack of Bangla makeover videos on YouTube back in the early 2010s. Hence, out of passion and determination to teach people about makeup and skincare, I started YouTubing," she added.
"My late husband, Ronnie Rahman, has influenced me to come this far," added Shimul.
To this day women from the remotest corners of the country rely on her easy-to-understand tutorials. Surprisingly, during quarantine, she bagged more followers of different ages and gender. It was due to her other, more personal YouTube channel 'Shahnaz Shimul Vlogz' which has 653,000 subscribers.
"I started my vlogging channel in 2018, after the death of my husband. Engaging with my followers through sharing my lifestyle gave me a sense of peace," she said. "My followers also found my vlogs to be entertaining. Especially at the beginning of the shutdown period, when people had nothing to do, they enjoyed my daily vlogs."
Shahnaz's husband pushed her to get trained as a makeup artist professionally after they moved to the UK in 2013.
In 2014, however, she took her dream to the next level. She completed 'City and Guild Level 2: media hair and makeup' and Level 3: beauty makeup techniques at Brighton University from MET.
"People were initially sceptical when I decided to study makeup, but only now do I know how passionate I am about it," she said.
Additionally, Shahnaz also conducts makeup workshops in Bangladesh. These events are attended by hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people. Both Men and women join her training programmes and Shahnaz is immensely happy to see how open-minded people are becoming day by day.
Shahnaz's husband was a businessman and a senior data analyst. He taught her the basics of business. Presently Shahnaz is also a full-fledged businesswoman, following in her late husband's footsteps and keeping his legacy alive.
She currently imports products from the UK for her business 'Shahnaz', where she sells both makeup and skincare products. However, due to heavy demand, she is also trying to expand her venture by importing products from the USA and South Korea.
Although Shahnaz is a British national, she operates her business in Bangladesh. So, it is not unusual for her to visit the country regularly. However, she aims to familiarise Bangladeshi culture to her UK fanbase in the future, she wants to introduce them to authentic Bangladeshi clothing and jewellery.
We asked her if it was difficult for a woman to live in a foreign country alone. She confidently replied that if you have goodwill, it is not that difficult to lead a good life. She loves to inspire women to be independent, and earn a living through their own merits. Shahnaz is often viewed as one of the most empowering women in the influencer sphere.
"I do not want our women to fall behind. I don't even want to achieve success through the failure of others. I always talk up new makeup artists or influencers, because a rising tide lifts all ships."