Doll Me Up (Chapter 3): Marketing

Shopkeeper Stories with Nazlin Hilal the founder of Doll Me Up Cosmetics and Boneca cosmetics make-up in Singapore small business make-up fashion enterprise

Nazlin Hilal, founder of Doll Me Up Cosmetics, shares some strategies that she uses to ‘put wheels on her business’ and sustain spectacular standards of service.

Nazlin has a warm and affectionate personality, so it’s easy to see why people like her: she is sincere about providing value to her customers, and has a lovely way of bringing out the best in people around her.

If a great brand is about “making people feel better”, Nazlin’s brand of cosmetics is about empowering her customers with confidence and flair. But, an awesome personality alone won’t sustain the rigours of a business. What else has been helpful?

1. Make it easy for customers to share the word

“Facebook has been a very good platform to do it. People like to take photos and we like to look at people’s photos. I think that is a form of advertisement because every time customers come here for classes, they might take photos and upload them on their page. Somebody will look and say: ‘Hey, cool, I want to go for such classes.” I find that my particular business works a lot through word-of-mouth.”

2. Tailor your business closely to what customers want

“I try to get feedback from customers, from friends, and all that. “What is it that you think we should change? What do you think we should do?” We cannot just be doing the same thing, so I was like: What else can we do? From there, we hear them. Basically, it’s a lot to do with what the customer wants.”

Shopkeeper Stories Doll Me Up Nazlin Hilal cosmetics fashion make-up small business enterprise in Singapore

3. Develop a reputation for honesty and trust

“Sometimes, when customers want to purchase something, I stop them from purchasing. It’s simply because I know it’s not suitable for them or, looking at their personality, they will not use it… So I’ll point them to something that they’ll actually use. Because of that I guess sometimes they appreciate it.”

4. Create experiences and services around the product

“Another thing that we ventured into are short demos, like make-up demos, since we have the space. Normally when people come and watch a demo, they’ll be more interested to purchase because they’ll be like: “Okay, looks nice on the model.” And they’ll be like: “Okay, I think I want to try.” We always try to do it in such a way that we actually show them how it is used so that they really know what to do.”

“I like to have people who are very real [for the models]. Somebody who looks normal, so that our customers can relate to them. Because if it’s somebody who’s very pretty like a professional model, they will say: Of course it looks nice because she’s a model. We try to have people from all walks of life. Our customers have different skin tones, different face, shapes and all that. So they became our models for that day.”

Shopkeeper Stories with Nazlin Hilal the founder of Doll Me Up Cosmetics and Boneca cosmetics make-up in Singapore small business fashion

5. Use beautiful packaging that your customers enjoy

“Most people think that the cosmetics are different from this brand to that brand, but actually the ingredients used are about the same. What makes it different is the packaging. Sometimes you pay more thinking that this brand is good, but sometimes a lot goes into the packaging. Because the packaging looks nicer, it will also cost more.

“When we first started, we ourselves didn’t have a lot of money, so we said: Let’s keep the packaging very simple so we can charge the customers less, but over the years we realized that the customers also want better packaging. They don’t realize that they would have to pay a bit more because of the better packaging– but it looks better that way and makes them happier. During our fifth year launch, we actually changed the packaging totally for some of our products.”

Shopkeeper Stories with Nazlin Hilal the founder of Doll Me Up Cosmetics and Boneca cosmetics make-up in Singapore small business make-up fashion enterprise

Doll Me Up Studio

6. Stay strong and positive when people are negative

“It happens, and they would say: Don’t go to her. She’s not good. All these kinds of things. It can destroy you to some extent, because word-of-mouth can pass on very fast. … But we also believe that the people who have actually come to us will know us best. After some time, these things will just die off, because people will say: Oh, I’ve gone to her classes and it’s okay. I’ve purchased her product, it’s fine.”

7. Collaborate with other small business owners

“I like to help other businesses. Sometimes for no reason, they would just tell me: Can I give you a few brooches and you just wear it and post a photo of it — so I was like, Okay, sure. Because I always take a photo of myself before I leave the house simply because I want to show what is the makeup that I use and all that.

“They say: Your customer network is quite huge and I get a lot of requests. That’s also a good way to network, because the next time when I need sponsors and all that, I can approach the same people and say: We have an event, do you want to sponsor something?”

In the next article, we will explore Nazlin’s approach to growing the business. How did the business change over the years, and… what’s next?

Shopkeeper Stories is a photographic documentary of small business owners with their trades around the world, sharing their views on business and life. You can catch all the posts on Facebook and Instagram @ShopkeeperStories. Enjoy!

Series on “Doll Me Up”

Chapter 0: Introduction

Chapter 1: Starting a business

Chapter 2: Creating a product and brand

Chapter 3: Marketing

Chapter 4: Growing up

Chapter 5: Family life


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