Hav­ing gained ex­pe­ri­ence in mar­ket­ing, brand­ing, and so­cial me­dia af­ter work­ing in fi­nance for more than seven years, Dahlia Nadi­rah chan­nelled th­ese skills into launch­ing her very own cos­met­ics line, SO.LEK.


She’s mak­ing high-qual­ity makeup more af­ford­able.

It was a trip to metropoli­tan New York, at the end of 2015, that sparked in Dahlia Nadi­rah the idea of com­ing out with her very own cos­met­ics line, SO.LEK. “I saw a bunch of Amer­i­can cos­met­ics that were both sold at an af­ford­able price and high in qual­ity. At the same time, Kylie Jen­ner had just launched her in­fa­mous Kylie Lip Kit and never have I seen a brand gain that much hype in the beauty in­dus­try. As soon as we re­turned home, we did some re­search and no­ticed that there were only three lo­cal brands launch­ing their own line of matte liq­uid lip­sticks. We saw po­ten­tial and the op­por­tu­nity to start our own,” says 32-year-old Dahlia, who runs the busi­ness with her brother, Luq­man Hakim.

SO.LEK has since suc­cess­fully man­aged to ap­pear unique from other lo­cal cos­metic brands due

to their mar­ket­ing strat­egy. “If pos­si­ble, we’d like our prod­ucts to be 100 per cent Malaysian-made. By this we mean not just the pro­duc­tion it­self, but also the way we brand our cos­met­ics. Our brand is filled with 100 per cent Malaysian DNA! The name, logo and con­cept of ev­ery prod­uct is in­spired by the things we see around us in our coun­try,” she ex­plains.

The story be­hind their brand name, SO.LEK, is filled with sen­ti­men­tal mem­o­ries. “Luq­man and I have been very close since young and we love to joke around. When­ever one of us would get an­noyed or up­set, the other would say “So? Lek lah!” mean­ing ‘So? Re­lax lah’. There­fore, we thought it was per­fect to use this phrase, which we’ve been say­ing up to this day, for our cos­met­ics line! Be­sides that, we wanted a name that when trans­lated lit­er­ally means makeup,” she adds. To en­sure the qual­ity of the prod­ucts and re­main af­ford­able at the same time, Dahlia di­vulges that the profit mar­gin for SO.LEK is very low. “We didn’t start out by max­imis­ing prof­its since we as­pire to be a high-qual­ity brand that’s made af­ford­able for all. We spend a lot of our time on re­search and devel­op­ment. It was through con­stant dis­cus­sions with our man­u­fac­turer that we were able to achieve the qual­ity we now have. For in­stance, we were told by a loyal cus­tomer that our BB cush­ion and blusher cush­ion are on par with prod­ucts she spent RM200 on, while ours is priced at RM55!”

As a mother of two girls, five-year-old Ang­gerik Dang Jelita and one-year-old Seroja Dewi Hara­pan, Dahlia ad­mits that em­brac­ing the role of an en­tre­pre­neur, mother and wife is far from easy but it’s not im­pos­si­ble. “I have a to-do list which I go through ev­ery night be­fore bed to en­sure the fol­low­ing day is well-planned. I also take one day at a time. I make it a point to spend at least three hours a day with my kids and to be with my hus­band at night. Whereas dur­ing the day, I work and meet up with friends for lunch or tea,” says Dahlia, who al­lows her kids to play with makeup that’s free from haz­ardous in­gre­di­ents.

When asked about the mis­con­cep­tions she usu­ally hears about work­ing moth­ers, her an­swer in un­flinch­ingly hon­est. “(It’s) that we care less about our chil­dren, which is com­pletely un­true. In fact, both work­ing mums and stay-at-home mums are equally amaz­ing. Be­com­ing a mother is def­i­nitely tough due to the amount of re­spon­si­bil­ity, and in­stead of bring­ing other women down, re­gard­less of whether they choose to work or stay at home, it’s bet­ter for us to sup­port each other. I used to feel it deeply when con­ver­sa­tions with friends and oth­ers touched on the amount of time moth­ers spend daily with their chil­dren, but now I just shrug it off and move on with my life. I have qual­ity time with my girls with­out any dis­trac­tions. As long as they are happy and healthy, I’m okay!” she as­serts.

A strat­egy that has helped Dahlia ex­pand SO.LEK is to keep up with­what’s hap­pen­ing. “By be­ing aware of what our con­sumers want, we’re able to grow our line bit by bit. What I can tell you about SO.LEK is that we will go be­yond colour cos­met­ics!”

Fi­nally, Dahlia also has a word of ad­vice to as­pir­ing moth­ers who want to start a busi­ness in the beauty in­dus­try. “Good plan­ning will ben­e­fit you in the long run. Work on your time man­age­ment too, es­pe­cially when it comes to di­vid­ing your time be­tween your job, fam­ily and your­self. I do ad­mit that things can get pretty chal­leng­ing but if I can do it, I’m sure you can too.”

In fact, both work­ing mums and stay-ath­ome mums are equally amaz­ing.

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