“I am compelled to help women to feel more confident about their unique beauty at every age, to make smarter skincare choices and, I hope, to feel happier,” she says.
In this exclusive interview, Maleka explains what drives her to communicate the #beautyhasnoage message and talks about the lessons she has learnt in building her MERUMAYA® range of skincare products.
What led you to launch the #beautyhasnoage campaign?
So many of us are trying hard to look like other women when we were born to look unique. It can make us miserable and dissatisfied.
We chase the unattainable and negative goal of anti-ageing – that’s why at MERUMAYA® we champion Youthful Ageing. It’s a much more positive message and goal that supports happiness.
#beautyhasnoage is inspired by multiple experiences, not least my own insecurities I grew up with –all to do with the way I looked.
Though born in the UK, I have had the benefit of my parents’ eastern values: in the eastern culture we revere elders, their wisdom, patience, experience and beauty.
In the western world, women past a certain age often feel invisible, unheard, irrelevant, not beautiful. I also see young girls (and boys) so concerned about their self-image and I want to help.
So, I’m concentrating on communicating the #beautyhasnoage message as wide as I can. I do not ‘own’ this mission – women of the world do if they decide to pick up the mantle and change attitudes.
How do you intend to evolve your messaging to keep it relevant?
I will use MERUMAYA® as a platform to keep communicating the message by creating products that don’t over promise, by staying close to our customers and genuinely inviting their participation in evolving our brand so that it remains relevant.
This is not a marketing stunt. It is about truth and integrity and absolutely about understanding the feelings every woman, no matter how accomplished and successful, shares.
I will continue to try and animate it. First round was the launch of the make-up pouch bearing the #beautyhasnoage message, and there will be a series of accessories that our customers, as well as press and bloggers, will have access to. We will continue to put our customer central to all our initiatives.
How do you ensure differentiation of your products without wandering into hyperbole?
I create products that have a need. I do not create the insecurity/need in women and then, miraculously, launch the perfect product to answer it.
When I create a product it is because:
- It is a key product often used by women. I make it a better performer in a number of ways. A good example is Melting Cleansing Balm™, which has redefined the cleansing balm category.
- It helps the skin to perform better for itself making the skin more youthful
- My own experiences of ageing
- Customer requests
Which Korean beauty trends most interest you and why?
I am not up to date with Korean beauty trends, to be honest, though I have a growing interest in their active ingredients, provided they have robust clinical data to support the claims.
I am less about short-lived ‘trends’ and more about quality, efficacy, innovation, sensorial textures, saving precious time, results vs gimmicks, integrity, British-made and offering good value. You could describe MERUMAYA® as the John Lewis/M&S of skincare.
What tips can you pass on to other niche players from your experience of building the MERUMAYA® brand?
MERUMAYA® is about superior effective performance. It is expensive in terms of formulations, but I set prices fairly and accessibly. It can be frustrating when brands that do not have those values, but are ‘shouty’, gimmicky, way overpriced or have cash for endorsements/advertising achieve huge sales. You need to be strong and not succumb to that way of doing business.
- If you price fairly, be prepared to battle against the ingrained belief that ‘the more you pay, the better the product’. That simply is not true a lot of the time.
- Ensure you have cash flow for double the time you think you will be losing money.
- Your website is critical.
- Despite the apparent reach provided by the internet, it is very challenging to get cut-through on your USPs. Especially when you are not an advertiser, paying for product reviews or paying retailers for emails/windows.
- Distribution is challenging and fragmented. Have a clear strategy that factors sales vs profit generating channels.
- Be prepared for a very slow decision-making process.
To get more detail on the latest trends driving the Skincare market, check out our new report here.