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EXCLUSIVE: Beauty Chat With Dahlia Nadirah, Founder Of SO.LEK Cosmetic

We spoke to Dahlia Nadirah, co-founder of SO.LEK—a local cosmetic brand devoted in advocating for Malaysian culture




Dahlia Nadirah is more than just a star in the beauty world—she’s a bright burn supernova. The self-made entrepreneur successfully turned her passion for beauty into building her own brand, SO.LEK Cosmetic, a brand she hopes to bridge the gap between the urban consumer and those living outside of the city. Through the #gincugang movement—which has amassed over 28k followers on social media—Dahlia alongside her brother, Luqman Hakim, help to motivate and empower women to embrace the uniqueness of multiculturalism in Malaysia. 

Warm, thoughtful, maternal, and alluring—this devoted mother of three shares her perception on the beauty diversity in Malaysia, her fondness of Peranakan culture and the power of female leadership in business. 

Before leaping to the e-commerce route, you worked in the bank sector for almost 8 years—what exactly was the driving force behind this SO.LEK brand? Tell us about your journey. 

Long story short, one day, I needed a break and went to the US with the family and fell in love with their cosmetics local brands that were sold in their drug stores. And it got me thinking, why can’t we have good quality Malaysian made products that are affordable. I came back from the US and started working on the product right away. And it has been a 4 year-break for me from the corporate world!’’

Tell us more about SO.LEK? How did you come up with the name of your company?

I have already had the name SOLEK in my mind as I want something that is straight forward, easy to remember and easy to pronounce. Along the way—somewhere in July—I approached my brother, Luqman and asked him to be my partner. And then I realized “OMG, SOLEK is so apt for the brand name!” as both my brother and I love to annoy each other and when one is annoyed, the other one would ALWAYS say SO?? LEK LAHHH! (meaning, so? Relax laaaa..)


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APPRECIATION POST . As we are officially going back to our (new) ‘normal’ life tomorrow, I would like to give a big shout out to my lockdown buddy, my best friend, my music scientist, my funny roommate, my person.. @antiloque . You have been my biggest supporter ever for the past 84 days (ok la maybe the past 14 years 🤪). Thank you for being there and supporting me physically and mentally when I had my anxiety & migraine attacks, thank you for makan habis licin all the food I cooked for the past 3 months.. even yang hangit, hangus and pahit 🤣 Awak memang teramat padu aaaaa 💪🏼 . The biggest silver lining of all would be the fact that we spent almost 3 months together, 247, without any arguments! Both of us are workaholics so it was such a great ‘break’. It was probably the longest time we have spent together in 14 years and with our babies and it’s been a blast, Alhamdulillah. Terima kasih for being the best lockdown buddy, if I could choose anyone in the world to do it all over again, I’d still choose youuuuu (walaupun diberi pilihan Lee Minho atau awak… Cheeeehhhhwaaahh) . Now that we are entering the recovery phase, how I wish we could stay in longer, and spend the day watching movies in bed, like literally one movie after another and it would goes for hoursssss! Then clean the house together and playing with the kids without work getting in the way. But nevertheless, I’m so grateful for the 84 days 🤍 We did well kan awak? Alhamdulillah ❤️ #mco #quarantinelife #lockdown #pkp #love #grateful #forever

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Married to Khairil Ridzwan aka Loque, a well-known local musician with a—together, the pair makes a very passionate couple due to their fondness of Malaysian culture. She even took artistic inspiration from contemporary dance like Zapin, Inai and Asyik to named her products, as well as flowers like Anggerik and Seroja, (which was named after their daughters—Anggerik Dang Jelita, Seroja Dewi Harapan and Melor Pelangi Merdu.)

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

Not just Malay, but anything relating to Malaysian culture. In fact I am completely head over heels in love with Peranakan Culture. I study them, I learn about them, I read about them. Basically I take them seriously, not just because I love the fashion aspect of it. I feel that with how fast the world is moving, the whole culture, heritage and tradition are slowly dying. So many urban youngsters now know more about Western culture and history than our own. And so many of us take them for granted which is so unfortunate as we have such a beautiful and rich culture. 

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?

I think the biggest positive change is that now we are more accepting. We don’t view beauty as what we used to; like a sharp nose, fair skin, round eyes etc. We now can accept that scars are part of the beauty, as an example. We appreciate the differences in beauty such as skin tones and skin type, sizes and what not. However, there is a lot more to improve though, especially on skin whitening products. 


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Serving you our best selling product… QUAY-LOT 🤪 No, seriously our KILAT is thaaaa bomb. They are breathable, water-permeable & peelable! Check them out at our Publika booth, happening now till 16th September from 10am to 930pm 💋 #nailpolish #breathable #breathablenailpolish #waterpermeable #peelable #solekcosmetics #cosmetics #kosmetik

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I believe SO.LEK will turn four years old this year? What is the most surprising thing about the experience so far?

I can’t tell you how much I have had shed tears over the years, facing challenge after challenge. I feel like the most surprising thing would be that there is something new to learn every single day in this beauty industry. Either new trend, new color, new formula or new product.

Describe your first ‘’beauty memory’’?

My late grandma I fondly called Mek. She is the epitome of elegance. She has never looked ‘selekeh’ or ‘messy’ not even once all the 23 years we had together. She had lipstick on every single day, literally. SO.LEK is created in her memory, dedicated to her.

What do you now believe about beauty that you didn’t when you were younger?

That you should really take care of your skin as early as you. I remember my mom nagged me to wash my face, wear a facial mask (bedak sejuk) since I was probably 10 but I’d usually rolled my eyes. Now I feel like kicking myself hard for not following her advice! Also, drink a lot of plain water to hydrate yourself so that your skin will look healthy.


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HOW DO I SAY GOODBYE… . With a heavy heart I would like to share that after TWO YEARS, today is SO.LEK’s LAST DAY at ISETAN KLCC. This partnership has been one of the highlights in SO.LEK’s journey and I personally have such soft spot towards ISETAN team as they have been such great partners to us. Kind, understanding, easy to discuss and approach, and have always been there for us.. easily one of the best partnerships we have ever had! . However since the start of the year, we have been reviewing & revisiting our current & future plans, goals, performance, target and budget and there were certain areas that we have to reconsider. And with the recent event hitting us, we had a discussion with ISETAN team and have come to the mutual agreement that it is best for us to move forward without continuing the partnership. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH ISETAN TEAM, HAYLEY, especially KD for all the love and support you have given us ❤️ The past two years have taught us, and we have gained so much experience, new Gincu Gang, new friends 🥰 But as you all know, all good things must come to an end. As hard as it is to accept, we will now bid farewell to ISETAN! We wish our ISETAN family all the best and all the success in the world ✨ . Ya Allah sedihnya, rasa macam baru break up dengan boyfriend or.. macam baru habis tengok KDrama yang best 😭😭😭😭😭🥺🥺🥺🤧🤧🤧 #partnership #isetan #theend #goodbye #gincugang #solekcosmetics

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What kind of beauty advice or information do you, your mother and your grandmother share with each other? Also, what advice do you wish to pass to your daughters?

I hope that my daughter is comfortable with her own skin. I know I own a beauty brand, but I believe no amount of beauty products could conceal your energy and aura. If you have a beautiful heart, you are beautiful no matter what! And never sleep with your makeup on, no matter how late you go to bed. 

If we came and rifled through your makeup drawer, what would we find? What are some of your favorite products?

Lip products! I have so many lip creams, lip serum, lip scrubs…anything relating to lips. I have super dry lips, so I’d try everything that would help ease the dryness. Hence why our main ingredient is olive oil as our products are not drying on the lips due to it. I do hundreds of tests to make sure it is not drying, before I decide to sell them. 

What are three must-haves products from SO.LEK?

Lip creams (Joget, Erhu and Keronsang, and maybe Anting and Sanggul too), Kilat (our breathable, water permeable and peelable nail polish. All colours), and Mekar (our blusher cushion)

In your opinion, what have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?

To be a leader, entrepreneur and mentor, you need to show a good example to your subordinates and followers. I learned that I need to believe in myself and my product then only I can lead and mentor them. With entrepreneurship, I have learned to be really patient. You can’t expect to just sit, and the money would rain on you. You have to go through a lot of trial and errors—fail hundreds of times, and get up even when you just want to crawl in the bed.  To be a mentor, you must be willing to learn, to listen, to accept and to share your knowledge in that mentoring journey. 

As a beauty entrepreneur, how did you learn to recognize your own worth?

I always believe in self-love and self-care. With SO.LEK, we always believe and make a point that our product would help to enhance your own beauty, not to alter it or change it in any way.

What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

Take that first step. Be it to register your company, to place an order of product or just to create an Instagram account. I get excited when I see women around me starting their own journey in this entrepreneurship because I feel like we have so much to offer. And I believe that God’s rezeki is so huge, and there’s a piece of cake for everyone. 

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