Hubert Burda Media

Leap of Faith: Dahlia Nadirah

In times of economic uncertainty, driven by dreams, these resourceful young individuals leave behind their steady professional careers to dive into the unknown world of entrepreneurship, armed with astute business plans and plenty of courage.

Putting her best face forward

Inspired by the global success of Kylie Jenner’s much-coveted Lip Kit, Dahlia Nadirah took a leap of faith and established her own beauty brand, So.lek Cosmetics, last October with her brother. Today, So.lek Cosmetics has amassed almost 2,000 #GincuGang followers and sold 4,000 pieces of its best-selling lip creams available in five permanent shades. “It was during a trip to New York in late 2015 that I fell in love with all the drugstore make-up products available because of their affordability and quality. I spoke to my mother and brother about the idea of starting up a cosmetics line back in Malaysia as we had none at that time,” says the former social media manager, who was previously attached to Maybank and RHB Bank.
Like most businesses, Dahlia’s lip creams were formulated under a trial and error process as she worked in tandem with the manufacturers to develop the right textures and shades. “Most of the matte lip creams out there in the market are quite drying upon application, so my main criteria are that my lip creams have to be easy to wipe off and are not too drying,” she stresses. The name So.lek, derived from the Malay word alat solek, which translates to cosmetics, came naturally to Dahlia who is a strong proponent of traditional names. “My brother, who is also a fan of annoying me until I get mad, will often use the term ‘solek’ to get me to calm down and relax,” she reveals while laughing.

With the recent release of an eyeliner product named Celak, Dahlia has plans to expand So.lek’s offerings to other cosmetic products. “The main advantage So.lek has over other local cosmetic brands out there is that I’m able to penetrate both the urban and mass markets. We’ve received positive feedback from our customers that our lip creams are not too drying, so I’m happy that we’ve managed to come up with the right formula,” says Dahlia who oversees the branding, while her brother manages the financial side.

What influenced your decision to go down the e-commerce route?
My background in digital branding is definitely an advantage to me. We launched So.lek online through Instagram and we’re currently working on launching our new website. Eighty percent of our sales are made through online and the remaining 20 percent are through various exhibitions that we have participated in. We’re now working on building the brand awareness.

You’ve always been a strong advocate for all things Malaysian. Why is this important to you?
We’ve already reached the stage where we can compete with international brands. For the past few years, I’ve been using a lot of Malaysian products and I have to say that they are as good as international products. This doesn’t just apply to cosmetics but also food, music and art. If we don’t support our own local products, then who will?

How do you perceive beauty?
I’ve always been a supporter of natural beauty even before I started So.lek Cosmetics. Make-up can only do so much and as cliché as it sounds, beauty has to come from within. Good intentions will be reflected on your face.

Can you share with us a beauty tip you swear by?
I’ve been using bedak sejuk, a traditional powder made from fermented rice, on my face since I was 12. I’ve used all the face masks in the world and I’ve found that I get the best results from bedak sejuk. I source mine from an old lady in Kelantan who uses real rice and dries it under the sun for 30 days.