SO.LEK’s Founder Dahlia Nadirah On Her Brand, ‘’This Isn’t Goodbye’’

By: Aqilah Najwa Jamaluddin / October 6, 2021
Categories : Insider Spotlight

The name Dahlia Nadirah is no stranger to Malaysia’s beauty industry. The founder of SO.LEK cosmetic was the pioneer in producing Halal-based, wudu-friendly and cruelty-free beauty products in this country. Through the famous #GincuGang movement—which immersed over 30.2k followers on Instagram as of now—Dahlia alongside her brother, Luqman Hakim, has helped to motivate and empower women to embrace the uniqueness of multiculturalism through their products. However, on 24th August 2021, SO.LEK cosmetics dropped shocking news when they revealed the ‘’Selamat Tinggal Selamanya’’ collection—signalling the ending journey of the brand. 

The comment section then filled with an endless support from fans and friends alike. Ensuring that SO.LEK cosmetics will always be one of the top choices for beauty lovers in Malaysia. So, what does it mean for SO.LEK cosmetics and Dahlia Nadirah herself? Will we be expecting the brand to reemerge, coming back stronger than ever sometime in the future? Surely, everyone, me included, are still not over the brand just yet. Like kissing goodbye to our favourite ex lover, we also command a proper closure from the founder herself. 

Beauty Insider decided to reach out to Dahlia Nadirah herself to speak more about the latest news—what’s her initial plan? What’d she miss the most about SO.LEK and most importantly, a sweet message she had left for SO.LEK loyal fans out there. Read further to learn more about the bittersweet interview. 

What exactly was the driving force behind the SO.LEK brand? 

It all started during my short trip to the US with my family and I fell in love with their cosmetics. Noticing a lot of local brands that were sold in their drug stores, I instantly fell in love with the idea of creating good quality Malaysian made products that are affordable. I came back from the US and started working on the product right away. My team, my partner/brother and the intention of wanting to create awareness on Malaysian made products and on our heritage, traditions and culture through our products.

Tell us more about SO.LEK—how did you come up with the name?

Once we came back, I had a brainstorm with my mom and we went and looked for suppliers. I was calling local government agencies, meeting experts and chemists and looking for formulas that suit our weather and skin colors. Once we had that, I told my mom, I want to name something that is easy to pronounce, very straightforward and easy to remember. Hence SOLEK is born. At that time my brother was still in his last semester, doing his degree in Electrical Engineering, but I approached him and asked him if he could be my partner. And when he said yes, I changed SOLEK to SO.LEK, because there was a sentimental story behind it. You see, I am super close to my brother Luqman. And we love to annoy each other so much. When one party is annoyed with the other party, one would always say “Ala.. SO? LEK LAH!” as in “OH RELAX”. Hence, SO.LEK is the perfect name for the brand!

You’re so passionate about advocating Malay and Malaysian culture through your products. Why is this important to you?

I live in a community where I see A LOT (not all though) of people who are more interested in western culture, take the English language more seriously than our own language. And I feel quite sad because our own culture is so beautiful and if we neglect them, one day they will just die and be gone. When we launched one of our products we named one of them, MAHSURI, and I had the shock of my life when I found out a lot of people do not know who MAHSURI is, especially the new generation. And it makes me want to work harder to make sure that our culture will be preserved and “alive” for the next generation. And it’s not just Malay culture but all the cultures, traditions that we have in our beautiful country.  

As one of the first Malaysian beauty brands that produced Halal-certified based and cruelty-free products, what are the challenges that you have faced? 

Oh, there’s a lot.. Let’s see:

  • Getting the Halal certification itself was time consuming
  • Finding the right formula and manufacturer. I have super dry lips so we did the R&D for several months before we finally got the Gincu formula that everyone now loves. 
  • Cost-wise, finding a supplier that can do low quantity without crazy prices
  • Convincing people that Malaysian products are just as good as international brands. 
  • There was (and still is) this stigma around local beauty brands and use of mercury or unsafe ingredients in the products.
  • Justifying our prices to the customers; some have the mindset that local brands should be cheap and only international brands can be expensive when it should be the other way around. 
  • For international brands especially those in drugstores, they are able to set low prices due to low cost while us, we have to take into account the costly materials, packaging etc.
  • We also had mixed receptions on our brand DNA; people including our close friends thought that SO.LEK was too old-fashioned or “kampung”.

How about the achievement? 

Being Halal-certified has definitely put us in the maps as we got more and more recognition from international platforms that want to highlight Halal products i.e Rayan Beauty in Canada, potential distributors from Pakistan, Middle East. We were the first Malaysian cosmetics brand to take part in Pure London, a well-known trade show based in the UK in 2019. From there, we managed to close deals with UK e-commerce (Pure Modus). Opportunity to partner with big corporations including Isetan, Robinsons, Guardian, Parkson Play Up, AirAsia, Watsons etc. Our products also got recognized in the industry through awards from HER, Jelita, Harper’s BAZAAR, CLEO and a few more. Oh, I have been nominated a few times as entrepreneur of the year too!

Now, we would like to ask about the ‘’Selamat Tinggal Selamanya’’ collection. Is SO.LEK really bidding its farewell forever? Or is this considered as ‘’taking a short break’’ from the industry—can we expect SO.LEK to return in the future? 

I SURELY HOPE NOT! We are currently working very very hard to clear the stocks and hoping (and praying) that we will make a comeback some time next year. For now our focus is just to clear off everything before planning the next step.

What would you miss the most about SO.LEK?

Honestly I would miss our #GincuGang the most. We have the most supportive customers in the industry. And I will miss cracking our brains together to name the products, and to come up with ways to create awareness about Malaysian culture, heritage and tradition via our products. We are so fortunate because SO.LEK has brought us to a lot of places and we have met incredible figures via SO.LEK. 

Do you have anything you would like to say to SO.LEK fans out there? 

We are incredibly grateful for each one of you and we would like to say TERIMA KASIH to each one of you for all your support, love and constructive criticism for the past 5 years so that we could be better. For now, all we ask is if you could say a little prayer for us, hoping and praying that we would make a comeback sooner than later! And if you haven’t got anything from our SALE, you should get them as we are having such massive sales with never-before lowest prices ever. TERIMA KASIH AND SALAM SAYANG FROM US AT SO.LEK!

Okay, If you could tell your fans to grab these three things from SO.LEK, what would they be?

I cannot stress how much I love all our products but especially our Gincu (lip cream), Lakar (Lip Liner) and Alis (3-in-1 eyebrow pencil). Both our Gincu and Lakar are multipurpose so you can use them as eyeshadow, blusher, or even eyeliner!

Lastly, what’s next for SO.LEK and Dahlia Nadirah? 

Fuh! Bismillah. If you know me well, you’d know I can’t sit still. So currently I have so many small projects in hand and in planning stages which I will share very soon!

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