Entrepreneur Dahlia Nadirah On The 3 Important Values That Built Her Cosmetic Brand So.lek
This driven Generation T lister created her beauty company to mirror her own life philosophy. Here, she shares the three crucial elements that form the heart, soul and spirit of her cosmetic brand.
It’s been three years since Dahlia Nadirah built her own cosmetic brand So.lek from scratch together with her brother Luqman Oley. While she started the brand offering only lip mattes to her customers, So.lek has since expanded its range of products to include eyeliner, mascara, blush and even nail polish.
Thanks to a social media movement she pioneered under the hashtag #gincugang, So.lek currently enjoys a popularity among urban and rural consumers—two markets she hope to bridge with her products.
So.lek's success is also due to Dahlia’s ability to infuse her personal beliefs and passion into her work. Here, she shares with us three core values that formed pillars of her thriving cosmetic brand.
The Heart of The Brand: The Women In Her Family
Dahlia reveals that she views her mother Normah Yusoff as a role model. “Today, she runs a successful engineering company despite having no experience in the field when she started out. In spite of this demanding business, she still found time to raise me and my three siblings into successful adults,” she shares.
Motherhood is an a joy that she embraces into her work; she even named two of her famous lip matte creams after her daughters, Anggerik and Seroja.
She then reveals that the muse behind her brand is her late maternal grandmother, whose old-world glamour and elegance inspired the details of So.lek's branding.
“She was a truly elegant woman. Before she left the house, she would take her time choosing her clothes and accessories, right from her headscarf to her shoes. I was close to her and her passing hit me hard. So I wanted to So.lek to have her at its heart. So.lek’s logo was inspired by the old school eyeliner that she loved to use every day,” she says.
The Soul Of The Brand: Arts & Culture
While the women in her family formed the heart of So.lek, two men in her life influenced its soul. Her father Juhari Ibrahim retired from corporate life to open up his own art gallery. Dahlia reveals that she has her father to thank for encouraging her to develop an interest in arts and culture, be it modern work like stage musicals or old-school classics like wayang kulit shows.
Her own marriage to musician Khairil ‘Loque’ Ridzwan Anuar has only strengthened her own appreciation for the arts further. This passion is evident through her creation of two bestseller lines of lip mattes under So.lek: Tari Gang and Muzik Gang. The products in these two collections are named after local cultural styles of music and dance, like zapin and inai.
“The best feedback I ever received was when one of my customers told me that after buying our Tari Gang’s Asyik lip matte, she felt compelled to Google up and find out what ‘asyik’ was (a type of dance). She then told me how she was moved by the dance’s beauty,” relates Dahlia.
The Spirit of The Brand: Nationalism
A proud Malaysian, Dahlia envisions So.lek as a representation of our diverse and multicultural society. This is why she incorporates tiny but meaningful details into So.lek. Aside from the Tari and Muzik gang, she has named her products after items like local flowers (dahlia, cemphaka and merak) and local legends (Mahsuri, Tun Teja and Puteri Gunung Ledang).
“With my products, I want to start a conversation on what it means to be Malaysian, especially on the aspect of our culture that is unique to us,” she shares. “Ultimately, I want So.lek to be a company that not only helps you beautify your looks, but your mind and spirit as well.”
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Photography: Kah Mun
Creative Direction: Allan Casal
Watches: IWC Schaffhausen
Hair: Eric Chang from Hairco using Shiseido Professional
Makeup: Chin Mun Liow using Clé de Peau Beauté