Local make-up brands have come up with innovative ways to woo customers including a beauty cafe and a mobile make-up truck. Picture credite: NSTP/Syarafiq Abd Samad

Jelly lipstick, chocolate-coloured eyeshadow palette and cookie-shaped compact powders inspired by delectable desserts and the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel – These were among the unique items in Sweet Recipe colour cosmetic collection rolled out in 2013 by South Korean make-up brand Etude House.

With products looking and smelling good and irresistible ice cream, chocolate and fruits as flavours and scents, the collection came with adorable print advertisements and campaigns to entice beauty buffs and fans.

Apart from unique products, coming up with creating marketing strategies is a never-ending battle among big and savvy global beauty brands such as Etude House.

Despite efforts that ranged from serious, heart-breaking advertising messages to funny and comical or even extreme videos shared over the social media platform, nothing beats the challenge of the real deal - offering customers a personal touch or hands-on experience with the products.

For two homegrown beauty brands, Zawara Cosmetics and Pinkboxcereal, it’s all about reaching out and winning consumers through innovation.

These popular brands have stepped up their game in the local scene by taking a unique approach and providing customers with a make-up and beauty experience that is extra special compared to a typical, beauty counters at department stores.

Nur Fadilla Abd Karim attending to a customer inside Cosmetic Machine, the touring truck meant to beef the brand’s efforts to reach out to customers. Picture credit: NSTP/Syarafiq Abd Samad



Cosmetics and skincare brand Zawara was founded in March 2015 by siblings Nur Fadilla and Kamarul Ariff Abd Karim.

Zawara has since garnered steady customers and fans (315,000 followers on Instagram) searching for affordable Korean-formulated make-up and skincare products that suit our weather and lifestyle.

The brand is synonymous with products which are halal and wudhu’ (ablution)-friendly and packaged in chic designs.

“’Zawara’ means guest and in our business, customers are our special guests. We need innovative ways to reach out to customers and treat them with memorable beauty experiences with our products,” says Nur Fadilla, 33, whose business started due to her passion for make-up and dressing up.

 Besides its flagship store in Section 7, Shah Alam, Selangor, the brand mainly retails its products via e-commerce platform as well as stockists and agents nationwide. In line with its efforts to boost sales especially among its stockists and agents, the brand launched Cosmetic Machine, a mobile truck that tours the country.   

Zawara’s Cosmetic Machine. Picture credit: NSTP/Syarafiq Abd Samad



Splashed in pink, blue and black, the eye-catching truck (launched in January) is installed with a well-decorated beauty counter and a vanity mirror, with various make-up and beauty products neatly stocked up.

“The concept of Cosmetic Machine is simple – It’s like bringing a shopping mall to your doorstep. Customers can try products that they see on our website and online platforms on site or where the truck makes its rounds.

“As a business that mainly retails online, this gives us an edge compared to others as we offer a way to sample the products at their convenience. It’s also a more personal way to get in touch with customers and promote new products too,” adds Nur Fadilla.   

“At our recent promotion in Sungai Petani, Kedah, the truck was stationed in the compound of a rented premise. Guests could either try our products or get a quick fix and tips from our make-up expert inside the truck or watch make-up tutorials and products demonstrations in a home-based party setting.

“Sometimes during such an event, we also train our stockists and agents located in the area,” she says.

Nur Fadilla founded Zawara with her brother Kamarul Ariff in 2015. Picture credit: NSTP/Syarafiq Abd Samad

  The initiative also helps the brand to gain instant and valuable feedback from both existing and potential customers as well as their stockists and agents.

“We’re thinking of placing our Cosmetic Machine at Kuala Lumpur city centre soon. We want to offer special beauty treats or make-up touch-ups for office workers during lunch break,” she adds.  

Pinkboxcereal founder Shafiqah Shafie (centre) and the team behind Malaysia’s first beauty café. Picture credit: NSTP/Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman



If you are a beauty buff who adores local brands, you may have heard of Pinkboxcereal and its popular Beauty Emergency Kit (a customised box of skincare and make-up goodies curated according to your skincare needs). Or, you are probably already a Doll, as how its founder Shafiqah Shafie calls the brand’s fans.

Last year, the brand opened Pinkboxcereal Café for customers to get dolled up and try local and international make-up and skincare brands in a homely and relaxed atmosphere.

Previously at Empire Damansara, Petaling Jaya, the café recently moved to Pelangi Square in Petaling Jaya due to increasing demand.

“Most of us have had the experience being bugged by salespersons at pharmacies or beauty counters trying to influence us to buy products that we don’t want.

“That’s how the idea to set up this café came about. I wanted a space where customers could have privacy and the time to try many new products in a fun and relaxing café atmosphere,” says Shafiqah, a beauty guru and professional make-up artist with 41,600 followers on Instagram). She has been running the business with her husband Mohd Ilya Fahmi Azmi since 2015.    

A former stewardess and copywriter, Shafiqah has been passionate about skincare and make-up since she was 12.

She took a professional make-up course at SUB College at Berjaya Times Square and graduated with an international certificate.

“I love sharing tips and my experience on skincare and make-up with my friends and colleagues. When I was a stewardess, I shared my knowledge and skills with my colleagues when we were off-duty. My hotel room was a fun, makeover party space” says Shafiqah.

  From giving make-up classes at home and make-up jobs for events, she turned to YouTube to share her beauty secrets.

Endless enquiries from viewers on the products that she reviewed or tested and shared on the platform led her to open her Instagram online shop, Pinkboxcereal – a wordplay created by her husband and derived from her collection of pink boxes. A website was set up in 2016, followed by the café in 2017.

On a busy day at Pinkboxcereal Café. Picture credit: Pinkboxcereal



With the concept of “skincare, make-up and all things pretty”, Pinkboxcereal Café is an all-pink place where customers can test skincare and make-up while enjoying a cuppa.

About 70 percent of the products are produced by homegrown labels, while the rest are international brands picked by Shafiqah during her travels. Pinkboxcereal’s in-house brand, Pinkboxcereal Beauty, is also available.  

  “At our café, which I like to call Dollhouse, we stock up quality brands and what’s trending in the beauty scene, which I’ve tried out myself.

“For a small fee, customers can enjoy a cuppa and try anything they want without any interference from salespersons. They can even get their make-up done here – using the available products – before going to an event. We have had bachelorette parties as well as mothers enjoying bonding sessions with their daughters here,” she says.

“Hygiene and cleanliness are the company’s top priorities at the café, with make-up tools consistently sterilised.

The café offers a wide range of local and international brands for customers to try. Picture credit: Pinkboxcereal


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