In an extremely competitive cosmetic market, how do you start a brand that will be able to stand out in the crowd?

Some enterprising Malaysians have zeroed in on creating their own lipstick brands, and each creator has come up with a concept that will hopefully win over customers locally and abroad.

To compete with global brands, apart from a product that needs to have an edge, be of good quality and be affordable, the lipstick brand has to offer enough colours to cater to a wide variety of customers.

That’s a tall order, but one that these brand founders, either through self-financing or family support, have challenged themselves to meet. Their products are sold mostly on the brand’s websites, via social media and online retail platforms, as well as at special events.


Kamelia Nisha

At only 23, Kamelia Nisha has created her own lipstick brand based on a concept she’s loved since she was young.

Kamelia was launched in October 2016 and now she’s juggling running her cosmetics business and pursuing her law degree at a local university.

“What sets our product apart from others is its fun and creative packaging, alongside a distinct fantasy mermaid concept. We also deliver quality ingredients, superior formulas and cruelty-free beauty at an affordable price point,” she says.

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Aznita Azman is the founder of Nita. Photo: Nita

Anita Azman

Aznita Azman, who was inspired by her family business in airport travel retail that specialises in perfumery and cosmetics for over 20 years, recently launched her brand Nita in January this year.

“I believe that Nita is the first in the market that reflects our Malaysian heritage,” Aznita, 26, says.

“Local indentities are implemented in my lipsticks with names like Saree, Cheongsam and Kebaya. They represent our diversity in their colours and names,” she explains.

Dahlia Nadirah Juhari and Luqman Hakim

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Sister and brother team Dahlia Nadirah Juhari and Luqman Hakim founded the makeup brand, So.lek. Photo: So.lek

After leaving a corporate job at the end of 2015, 31-year-old Dahlia Nadirah Juhari decided to start her own business and roped in her brother, Luqman Hakim, 25, to create their own lipstick brand, So.lek, which means makeup in Bahasa Malaysia.

“At that time in Malaysia there were very few local brands that had a lip product, but now we have over 30 local brands, which is great for healthy competition!” says Dahlia.

Tengku Chanela Jamidah and Didie Nasir

Dida, launched in June 2016, was created by fashion designer and founder of fashion label Thavia, Tengku Chanela Jamidah, and her friend Didie Nasir, founder of Dynda Designs.

They noticed that there weren’t many affordable high quality brands locally and said they saw the gap in the market and decided to fill it with a high quality brand that is affordable, on trend, and is designed in a fun and creative way.

“Makeup is something all women use to feel good about themselves. I’m all for women empowerment so we came up with the phrase ‘by women for women’ because we try and test the products on ourselves,” says Tengku Chanela, who, like Didie, is in her 30s.

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Tengku Chanela Jamidah Ibrahim (left) and Didie Nasir are the co-founders of Dida. Photo: Dida

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Jameson Juwily presenting his new range of lipsticks and lip glosses during an event in London recently. Photo: Jameson Juwily

Jameson Juwily

Cosmetics is something close to Sabahan Jameson Juwily’s heart as he had worked as a beauty consultant for Smashbox and later as a makeup artist for Stila.

In October 2013 the Britain-based Juwily, 37, launched MYJ Beauty in London. By day he works in London as a civil servant with the Ministry of Justice for the British Government, and by night he works on his lipstick business.

Juwily was given the nickname “James the lipstick man” by editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, whom he met at an event in London.