Syazmin was a final year student when she went to the UK in 2016. Her husband, Hafidz, who quit his job in Doha, Qatar, followed her to be by her side.
Restless and lonely in the house while his wife attended classes, he took notice of the craze the Europeans had towards handmade bath and body products.
Out of a mix of his boredom, curiosity, FOMO (fear of missing out) on this opportunity, as well as access to cheap ingredients, he tried his hand at making his own bath bombs.
While Syazmin didn’t pay any attention to his experimentations in the beginning, she soon joined him.
“After months of trials and tribulations, we ended up with a whole lot of soaps, bath bombs, and scrubs.”
“It was then that we thought, ‘Ok, so what do we do with all these products? Maybe we could try and sell it?’” she said.
Striking a Eureka moment, they began building an online presence on Instagram under the brand BUIH.
4 years later, they’re now selling in a 5-star hotel gift store.
From IRL To URL
BUIH already had some online sales and a steady follower growth before it started selling in Kuala Lumpur bazaars in 2017.
This form of retail allowed the couple to further spread their presence in the market.
It also gave them the opportunity to interact with local customers, who weren’t convinced about buying—or even saw the need for—bath bombs, unlike the crowd in the UK.
“It was a challenging journey I’d say, we had to educate society on why our products are unique and different from what the current market has to offer,” Syazmin said.
With a consistent presence on Instagram and interactions with customers at bazaars and exhibitions, doubtful Malaysians became fans.
So when LUSH launched in Malaysia in 2018, BUIH was mostly unaffected by it because of its existing following.
Not to mention, they’re also the cheaper option, if we’re simply comparing price points.
The cheapest bath bomb you can get at LUSH costs RM30, while BUIH sells theirs at RM19.90.
With their confidence within the retail sector, they decided to add a different revenue stream to their business.
Gifts + Retail = Hotel Gift Stores
They ventured into the events sector, selling their products as door gifts at corporate events and weddings.
“The revenue has been steadily growing. Gifting contributes to more than 60% of our revenue, whilst retail and online sales each contribute to 30% and 10% of our total revenue,” Syazmin said.
Much to Hafidz and Syazmin’s surprise, BUIH’s growth exceeded their expected targets, so much so that it caught the attention of a 5-star hotel in Penang, the Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel.
“We were approached by the E&O team about the possibility of having BUIH products in their shop, and we were delighted to have been given such an offer and we’ve been there for quite some time now,” she said.
Most Malaysian homes don’t even have bathtubs to enjoy bath bombs, so selling them in hotel gift stores is a strategic move.
Hotels have a bathtub in every room, and guests don’t have to worry about racking up water bills (but water conservation is always a good thing to practice nonetheless).
Handmade & Sustainable
“Indeed, we are inspired by LUSH, particularly by their sustainability business model and their environmental ethos,” Syazmin said when we pointed out similarities between the brands.
BUIH’s soap bars are plant-based and coconut oil is used in all of their products. Recyclable PET bottles are also used for packaging.
Even with their business growth, the couple still makes everything by hand.
On how they manage to do so, Syazmin said, “We have this rule of not taking too many large orders at the same time so that we can ensure we can deliver to our customers according to the timeline and utmost quality.”
She and Hafidz make up the core team of BUIH, but they hire an extra team of friends and family to help with accommodating orders at events and bazaars.
Additionally, scaling up the company has always been their future plan for BUIH.
In doing so, we’ve started our outsourcing journey by strengthening our suppliers and business partners network. We’ve engaged with multiple original equipment manufacturer (OEM) players and discussions have been made to outsource our products using our original recipes.Syazmin, co-founder of BUIH
“We are also looking to strengthen our presence in the retail segment, and we’ll be in a few more popular retail brands in Malaysia,” she said.
BUIH currently retails at Robinsons KL and The Gardens. They also have clients that include Isetan KLCC, Sephora, and Monki.
Featured Image Credit: Syazmin & Hafidz, co-founders of BUIH