The lady boss speaks on advocating sustainability, hair tricks and challenges they faced during and after the lockdown
By: Aqilah Najwa Jamaluddin / July 7, 2021
If you’re one of those who love strolling around the area of Jalan Telawi, Bangsar you might have stumbled upon COCOdry bar. Even before stepping into the salon, the well-energized, vibrant colours of its exterior were totally captivating.
Since establishing its footing almost two years ago, COCOdry has won the heart of many ladies all across the country. Not your average hair salon—COCOdry focused on the value of using only natural ingredients, championing sustainability, and women empowerment. Thus, they do not believe in hair cutting, hair colouring and none of that fussy stuff!
Curious? Beauty Insider chats with the girl boss herself, Kim May Chee, who speaks on advocating sustainability, hair tricks she had learned while quarantine-ing and the challenges they faced during and after the lockdown.
Get To Know, COCOdry Bar
Kim founded COCOdry bar at the age of 26. Interestingly, she flew to the United Kingdom to speak with three blow dry bar owners to learn further about the business. She needs to find enough resources to understand how she could emulate their working principles in the Asian community—specifically, Malaysia.
She explained, ‘’The term ‘dry bar’ was introduced by drybar in the United States, which stands for a hair salon that provides blowouts exclusively, which includes a wash, blow dry and hair styling—no cut, no color! But yeah I get what you mean, we provide washes shouldn’t it be a wet bar instead? We get asked this question a lot! But we are much more than just a salon without cuts and colours, we are an experience & we make women feel cococonfident everyday!.’’
Coming from a marketing background, you obviously know what it takes to run a business. But what exactly was the driving force behind COCOdry salon? Tell us about your journey.
Marketing is only one aspect of business, I have so much to figure out every single day which really excites me! The driving force behind COCOdry was my passion in entrepreneurship and women empowerment. Other than giving good hair days, I wanted to start a business that resonates with the values I believe in. Women empowerment, community building by instilling positivity and self-confidence. If I can start a business at 26 without much experience & capital, I believe that anyone can do it too.
COCOdry On Practicing Green & Clean
At COCOdry, they practice sustainability by using paper bags and have started an initiative where you can bring in empty bottles or containers of their products in exchange for 5% off on your next purchase. Their range of products are also natural and animal cruelty free. Having hand-picked them from brands who share the same core values as them on being natural, environmentally friendly and sustainable.
You’re so passionate about advocating sustainability and only use & sell natural products to clients. Why is this important to you?
As a consumer, the chances of stumbling onto a salon that sells natural products are rare. It’s the change that the salon industry needs right now and being sustainable is non-negotiable. If I can make this tiny change from within for the better, why not?
What do you think is the biggest myth or misconception of haircare?
There are so many! Hence recently we have started #COCOsays series with the intention of sharing tips and educating our community about hair care. But if I had to choose one biggest myth of all time, I’d say, ‘Washing your hair everyday is bad’. That’s not true! It really depends on the shampoo you choose, the climate and your lifestyle. We wash our face everyday, but why can’t we do it to our scalp, afterall it shares the same skin as our face. I’d also like to add that not all articles you read online are 100% accurate. Please remember that they’re mostly written for western countries that have a completely different climate, scalp and hair type from Malaysians.
Adapting With The New Norms
Like hundreds of other businesses, COCOdry was also affected by the harsh circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdown period caused a huge loss in the company’s sales and revenue.
‘’With the third lockdown in place, no physical operations were possible, and it has even affected the timeline of COCOdry’s second outlet at Publika. Hence, we’ve channeled all our remaining resources into the COCOdry ecommerce store which has helped with our operating costs. Right now, we’re focusing on improving our online presence and focusing on maintaining relationships with our community, hoping that things will pick right back up, just like the first MCO.’’
Refusing to wallow in distress, the COCOdry’s team saw this as an opportunity to build their social media presence. Ever since the pandemic hit, they have actively been posting videos—ranging from seasonal messages to hair tutorials. Simple yet important short clips that could spread positivity and joy. Fun!
Are there any new hair tricks you learned while in quarantine? And what’s your favourite at-home hair care tips of all time?
I didn’t learn during quarantine but my all time favourite trick is THE FLIP. Flip your head upside down to blowdry. Your hair will magically have more bounce and volume. If you love voluminous fringe, blow your fringe towards the direction of your face, and you’ll feel like a TAI TAI immediately. As for hair care tips, use a tonic. It’s a step that people often neglect unless they have hair loss issues. But, we already know that prevention is better than cure. Afterall, tonic helps to prolong the anagen phase and prevent hair loss.
What does a typical day during your quarantine look like? Walk us through your daily routines.
I love waking up to watch the sunrise at 7am, filling up my 5-minute journal and working out for at least 30 minutes. This is my morning routine, keeps me grounded and consistent! What comes after is the daily huddle with COCOsquad and starting my day with the most difficult tasks so the rest of the day will seem easy in comparison. When I get overwhelmed with challenges, I take 20 minutes off to mediate and keep my mind fresh and focused.
Kim’s Words On Women Empowerment
Like any other strong female entrepreneur, Kim is all about women empowerment. At COCOdry, they practiced self acceptance and self love. Kim strongly believes that each customer will walk out feeling COCOconfident in their real hair, this is why they have introduced many different styles for different hair types.
The world of beauty is more diverse now in Malaysia and more inclusive than it was just a few years ago. Which changes make you feel positive—and where is there still room for improvement?
‘’For the longest time, the beauty industry has made people feel left out. All skin colours are beautiful, all hair types are gorgeous, I’m happy to see that more brands are working on being diverse and inclusive, ending the world’s obsession with fair skin and straight hair, one step at a time. What I’d love to see improvement is transparency and setting realistic expectations toward the consumers. Stop making empty promises and stop making ads with perfect results that we know aren’t real. Brands should encourage people to learn how to celebrate ourselves for who we are, accept our flaws and vulnerabilities in every state and not chase for unrealistic perfection.’’
The 28-years-old beauty also dedicated at least 5 minutes of journaling everyday to count her blessings, despite her packed schedule. ‘’Recently I stumbled upon a saying, find three hobbies you love, one to make you money, one to keep you in shape and one to be creative. I’m blessed to wake up everyday doing what I love’’, she said.
In your opinion, what have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?
‘’My priority has changed since I started, from myself to my team, and learning how to be a good leader. To be honest, I’m still a work in progress. I’ve made so many mistakes and learnt from them every single day. I believe that if you wanna go far, go with a team as it takes a village to build a successful business. I’ve learnt how to put others’ needs before mine, coming up with core values that guide us in decision making, putting the right people in the right jobs, getting things done while taking care of their well-being and encouraging my team to take on leadership roles.’’
She further explained, ‘’I want them to work with me, not for me and give them opportunities to my partners and build COCOdry together. Recently, I’ve made 3 of my core team members girlbosses. Seeing them accomplish things they never thought they could, is my biggest accomplishment so far. I wouldn’t have it any other way.’’
Lastly, what’s next for COCOdry and Kim May Chee?
‘’I’d love to see COCOdry going overseas, having our own range of hair care products & bringing this customer experience and happiness to even more people.’’
As for her personal achievement, ‘’I’m already working on other side hustles and wouldn’t limit myself to just the hair care industry! I want to experience life as much as I can, travel the world and at the same time, build a business empire, inspire more women to do the same, be on the cover of business magazines because of the waves and impact that I have made. I don’t know if I’m gonna get there but I’m taking baby steps hoping that I’ll get there some day.”