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.