Doll Me Up (Chapter 5): Family Life

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

Shahrin (Nazlin’s husband) popped into the Doll Me Up studio after work in the evening to look after Danish

People living in the Arctic region have about a thousand words for “snow” because they are sensitive to the quality of snow for everyday decisions like sledding, catching seals, building houses, and so on. Meanwhile, Singaporeans have a colourful package of words to describe the weather such as “damn hot” “super hot” “so hot cannot take it” and “so hot want to die already” (and it mostly helps us decide where we will go to eat).

Given that language is always changing to reflect our reality, it comes as no surprise that the word “mumpreneur” made its way to the Collins dictionary in 2011 to describe “a woman who combines running a business enterprise with looking after her children.” While I think there are serious problems with this word (for example, what does it mean when men are called entrepreneurs, but mothers are labeled mumpreneurs?), the word reflects a shared experience and makes it easier to self-organize around communities of support.


Nazlin did not explicitly describe herself as a mumpreneur in our conversations, but she has handled this tricky role with incredible calm. She wandered into her cosmetic business knowing that her children would stay in her spotlight. Keeping them in her aura of motherly love was a big motivation for being her own Boss.

I got married very young at twenty-two, but I didn’t manage to get a child until five years later. When my son came, that was when I started telling myself, I want to spend a lot of time with him because it was so hard to get him. My second son came six years later … I always say these are my precious ones. It is actually one of the driving factors that made me want me to quit my job and actually start the business.

Her children remain her daily motivation.

To quit and then just go into something which you are not even sure— that one was very scary, the first few months. But I told myself: “Okay, I really want to have a job where I can plan time with my kids, where I can focus on something which I really love.”

She makes a conscious effort to tune her business to the human rhythm of living well and sustainably.

As a mom, you always want to think of your kids. Sometimes, I have people tell me: “Don’t you want to take on this project, you’ll get a lot of money.” 

But if I take on this particular assignment, it’s a good offer, but I want to have that particular time with my children. 

I always tell myself that the reason why I do this is because I want to have time with my kids, so I try to space out my workshops and events or classes.

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


Her husband, Shahrin, has been her most loyal and lively supporter. He helped her research the nuts-and-bolts of business policies, set up the physical studio, looks after the children, and gives her endless encouragement.

At one time I wanted to give up. I was telling my husband, “I think I should sell clothes because it’s a bit easier. I don’t have to worry about all this.” He was always my biggest motivator. He told me: “Never mind. It’s okay. I will help you. I will help you.” So he was the one who helped me a lot.


Having a wonderful family has made a universe of difference.

Luckily for me, on weekends, my husband would be the one attending to them. During the weekdays, he works. Normally by 6 he is already home. Once he’s back, then he will take over. Anytime in-between my aunt is the one who will help to take care of them. I’m lucky.

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

Dealers | Sisters

Nazlin has a cool posse of exclusive dealers. They provide outreach to customers who live in other parts of Singapore and provide support at events, and she regards them as family.

I taught them, so they are make-up artists themselves now. That’s one of the prerequisites, because I find that it’s not just about selling. There are a lot of people who approach us and say: Can I sell your products? And I say: It’s not so much about selling. When you sell, I want it to be somebody who knows.

So that’s why I recruited my own students, because they use the products. They know the products very well. So it’s easier for them and they have the customer’s interest at heart. They will know, this one is not so suitable, this one is more suitable for your skin tone. 

We have become very close, we are like sisters– because they are always the same people. And my customers recognize them. Because every time they come for the event, it’s always this group of girls helping the booth and all that.

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

Work Schedule

Sorting out the mornings, afternoons, and weekends.

Normally, I try to make it such that in the morning until late afternoon, I’m always at home so I can attend to the kids and all that.

Normally my weekends are always taken up with the workshops and assignments. Other than workshops, I also do makeup, for example, for events, for weddings, and all that. That is always during Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

What! The whole weekend is blocked out?!

Yes, correct. That’s why normally I make sure that during the weekdays – morning to afternoon – I should be at home. I would do the cooking and be there with my kids.

Working at home

The wonders of a supportive family is immeasurable, and can only be matched by the wonders of technology. The flexibility of working at home was one of the reasons Nazlin chose the combination of a studio and e-commerce website, rather than a retail shop.

With a studio concept, Nazlin can choose her opening hours which she announces through her social media pages, instead of feeling the pressure to turn up at regular hours every day.

I’m able to do a lot of the work at home like replying to customers, attending to inquiries, and doing proposals and all that. Now with iPhones, iPad and all that, it’s a lot easier. I can just do it at home. I don’t actually have to be physically here.

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

We wish Nazlin all the best with her ideas, and appreciate the insights she gave us into what it’s like to run a make-up business in Singapore… from the ground-up. This chapter concludes our 6-part series on Nazlin Hilal. What an awesome person, and what a beautiful story!

But, this is not the end. You can visit Nazlin’s Facebook and website to get in touch and try out her innovations!

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

Did you read the other chapters in this series? Check out Nazlin’s full story, glistening with useful insights.

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

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your friends! You can also see more Shopkeeper Stories around the world on our Facebook and Instagram @ShopkeeperStories. Join us there!

Curious to know more about the author? You can read more here. Wishing all my readers plenty of dazzling inspiration and positive energy to take your ideas forward!


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