One local brand has grown from producing spa products to making alternatives for a wider market.
WHEN siblings Faridah, Fauziah and Faisal Ahmad Fadzil started Tanamera in 2000, they wanted to commercialise Malay spa products, which, at that time, were regarded as niche and provincial.
Home-grown and self-funded, the brand made its name manufacturing products using local herbs and spices.
The three of them said that these are Malaysian products bearing Malaysian identities, so when marketers advised them to skew their products to sound foreign and exotic, they refused.
“We know what we are and we stand by that,” says Faisal. He has been busy attending trade shows to have the brand marketed overseas.
“Ironically, it is the local market that needs convincing. People in Japan and Germany, for example, have no qualms with our products. It’s Malaysians who think we are not good enough because we are local.
“We are a premium brand and we are small. We want to retain and uphold our family values. We may have made mistakes in the past — we are manufacturers, after all, not marketers — but when it comes to our brand, we get it right,” says Faridah.
The siblings have also been advised to use boxes as a sign of exclusivity but Faisal says they would rather give better ingredients over “boxes that people throw away”.
“And now you see many foreign beauty brands are jumping on the no-box bandwagon. It reduces wastage, eliminates use of resources and is better for the planet.”
The brand has enjoyed slow and organic growth but a lack of funding meant that it cannot achieve optimum development.
Three years ago, through a programme under Ekuiti Nasional Berhad (Ekuinas), the brand received the financial boost it needed without the owners losing their say.
They hired people to do marketing, finance and corporate finance to complement their manufacturing skills and things have been looking up since.
Faisal says the Tanamera postnatal set was the brand’s breakthough into the Malay market, thanks to endorsements by celebrities on Instagram.
Traditional Malay culture dictates strict practices for after-birth care, including leaf bath, tangas (vaginal steaming), lulur (scrub) and pilis (a paste made of herbs).
Tanamera made them in sachets and powder, so the process is fuss-free and not messy.
“This was a big break for us and it’s satisfying that we can use old Malay practices and make them relevant in the modern world.
“We started off wanting to promote the Malay art of wellness, so a postnatal set is in that direction,” says Faisal.
These days, the brand — which has stores at The Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur, The Starling Mall in Petaling Jaya and Cenang Mall in Langkawi — is developing products to give customers alternatives to conventional products.
In its line-up are alcohol-free hand sanitiser, surface spray, and oil for babies and children.
Faisal says: “Conventional sanitisers use alcohol which dries skin. Ours does the job of sanitising and keeps skin moisturised.
“We knew it worked, but when the independent lab test results came back, we realised that we made it even better.”
The brand has a surface sanitiser made of silver colloid, tea tree and lavender essential oils to clean small surfaces like door knobs.
Its Kidz Baby Spot Massage Oil is made of garlic, ginger and nutmeg oils with a base of virgin coconut oil to help babies and toddlers with mild stomach discomfort.
Faridah says she is trying to develop a cuticle lotion, in pen format, to combat dry cuticles.
“This is an interesting product and I think many people, especially those who spend long hours in an air-conditioned space, will find useful.”
Faisal says: “I feel like we have come a long way, from contract manufacturing to developing a spa line and now to face and body care, but I think we still have a long way to go.”