CEO Series

A Former AirAsia Stewardess And Her Husband Now Run KL's First Ever Makeup Café

Many Malaysians were first introduced to Pinkboxcereal’s café by a video that went viral. Having two hours to play with as much makeup as you want is quite a new concept in KL, and a lot of interest has been sparked thanks to the buzz.

This Malaysian-made business has gripped beauty enthusiasts in Malaysia, but co-founder Shafiqah Shafie is no stranger to social media fame.

With almost 19k subscribers on her YouTube channel and 36.3k followers on her Instagram, Shafiqah is a beauty influencer in her own right.

In an interview with NST, Shafiqah revealed that, “During that time, I was also active in social media. I started making tutorial videos about makeup on YouTube, and accepted makeup jobs at events, apart from offering my makeup and skincare classes at home.”

“That’s when my husband suggested the name Pinkboxcereal for use on my YouTube channel. He got the idea from my collection of pink boxes at home!”

Shafiqah’s favourite pink boxes have turned not only into an active beauty channel, but also an online business selling 150–200 #emergencybeautykits every week, and the weekend makeup café that will eventually evolve into an all-week venture, if this pair of founders have their way.

Located in Empire Damansara, Shafiqah tells us that the unconventional café gets a steady stream of 15–20 guests every weekend.

Her foray into the makeup world began when Shafiqah was 12. 

Shafiqah strutting her beauty guru stuff / Image Credit: Pinkboxcereal

While News Straits Times attributes the beginning of Shafiqah’s makeup journey to after she ended her brief stint in AirAsia, Shafiqah revealed to us that this was a long time coming.

“Got my ehem ehem, period, at that age and suddenly I feel like a woman! Haha! While the kids were busy playing with Pokemon and Digimon at that age, I was busy figuring out how to grow old gracefully.”

Her goal was to look like Mariah Carey, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and all the Hollywood celebrities when she got older. By flipping through her mom’s magazines, she picked up and experimented with celebrity beauty tips which then turned into a full-fledged passion.

“I’m not obsessed about having the ‘perfect’ or ‘flawless’ look, I don’t mind the zits here and there, I just simply love how natural beauty can be enhanced and sustained through just pampering oneself.”

She honed her skills by attending beauty and makeup schools in 2015, between the SUB International School, and also some skincare classes.

In her stint as a beauty guru, a lot of her viewers inquired about the products that she used, which prompted her to begin her online store. 

Image Credit: Pinkboxcereal

According to co-founder and husband Iylia Fahmi, “The initial idea was to create something like a first-aid-kit that contains beauty supplies. After hundreds of sketches, drawings and illustrator files, we came up with the first ever #emergencybeautykit. Besides, Shaf was a flight attendant, the word ‘emergency’ seemed to be stuck in her head all the time!”

A winning factor for us is that the kits help to support the local makeup and beauty industry, by pushing out and embracing local products. The team told us that at least 80% of the kits are filled with local products.

“It is not easy to make it here in Malaysia where a lot of judgments have already been planted about local products. So it is part of our responsibility, to choose the good ones and help them shine,” said Iylia, adding that, “One of the youngest entrepreneurs we moulded is only 22 years old.”

Each order will be shipped out in adorably pink boxes stamped with the #emergencybeautykit label, and according to Iylia, they’ve been shipped out everywhere from our neighbours Singapore, all the way to Brunei, Australia and even the States, with each order ranging from RM50 to RM1200.

This eventually led to the formation of the Makeup Café, maintaining the idea to promote and sell local products.

Their usual workspace is not accessible to the public, but Shafiqah informs us that they receive a lot of requests from their fans, affectionately nicknamed dolls, for self-pickup so that they can meet the whole team.

Of course, a business like theirs with an influencer as the headlining star would like to have these meet and greets, but it was a hassle for dolls to come into their workspace during office hours.

So this weekend café is Shafiqah’s elegant solution. And the rest, as they say, is history.

PinkBoxCereal’s lean team / Image Credit: PinkBoxCereal

Virality does sometimes bring the critics out, and this was true for PinkBoxCereal’s makeup café as well.

Many netizens have pointed out that you can easily play with makeup in Sephora for free, but what Shafiqah offers to her dolls in her pink café—or dollhouse—is the comfort.

“It is intimidating to try out testers at retail stores with the sales person standing next to you most of the time. I’m not saying that having someone to assist you is bad, but I’m pretty sure there’s a bunch of other girls out there who simply want to play around for a little while and have that little bit of privacy.”

“Some of them are here consistently every weekend to work on their makeup skills! Some also come here to celebrate their bachelorette/birthday party.”

For RM25 a pop, attending dolls have two hours to try anything they want, from facials, to makeup, or even to shoot videos and picture. The floor is theirs.

Shafiqah’s YouTube videos are constantly playing in the background in the café, but interested attendees can also eventually choose to attend Shafiqah’s beauty and makeup classes to get more in-depth knowledge. Visitors also get to leave with a beauty kit after.

There is also the issue of cleanliness when it comes to sharing makeup, and when we posed this question to PinkBoxCereal, they were quick to dispel any misconceptions. 

The makeup cafe in session / Image Credit: Pinkboxcereal

In the dollhouse, every brush, sponge and other tool is sanitised and sterilised after every use. They have brush/sponge cleaners, and what they call an “industry-standard steriliser machine” which even customers can use.

It also helps that their brushes, sponges and products are mostly sponsored items, so they can pretty much replace them every month. As for lipsticks and mascaras, there are small wands and brushes around for that.

PinkBoxCereal will eventually be moving to a bigger space to accommodate what we can assume to be a big rush of customers.

This will allow them to open their makeup café for the whole week, instead of just the weekends.

“In terms of returns, we are doing awesome alongside with our main businesses shoppinkboxcereal.com and beauty classes! The beauty café is more of Shaf’s personal agenda kinda thing that she wants to do for her fellow dolls,” said Iylia.

For now though, they’re focused on expanding their customer base for both and, “At the same time, loving and giving back to our fans. Growth is good but we would not want to grow too fast and wouldn’t want to forget the people who love and supported us from the beginning.”

 

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