Cosmoderm has undergone its own transformation since CEO Mawarni Hassan took the helm in 2011. Backed by her 14 years experience in education and HR training in a leading bank, Mawarni is driving growth to increase Vanity Cosmeceutical’s profit and sales, provide job opportunities and enter the global market.
She’s solid proof that you are able to do anything extraordinary in your life armed with a sheer determination and effort.
Since she first took over the company at the age of 49, she with a talented young team managed to increase not only the revenue by more than 60% but also brought the company back into the black .
A road less travelled
Her journey before becoming the CEO was truly unique and unexpected. She spent six years teaching English and English Literature in government schools. Later, she moved to the Ministry of Education and in 2007, she took an optional retirement at the age of 45 to pursue her career in the corporate world to work at a leading Malaysia bank in HR training.
Walking the talk
The jump from corporate to entrepreneurship was triggered by the need to be in charge of her own fate for financial independence and autonomy. While working at the leading bank, she absorbed some business acumen, culture development, leadership theory and took part in the bank’s transformation journey. “I wanted to see if I can actually put all the things that I’ve learned into practice – or basically walk the talk.”
Cosmoderm was a home grown brand with good fundamentals. It had a solid reputation as a pharmacy skincare brand with ten years in the market, with a loyal following, stable supply chain and a good distributor. It also needed a new brand owner to market it. “My initial objective was modest – just to build up its market share and establish Cosmoderm as a credible option for skincare solutions in Malaysia”.
Strengthening the core
On the first eight years of leading Vanity Cosmeceutical, Mawarni has effectively increased sale revenue by more than 60% with the help of a committed and competent team. “We have not only managed to increase sale revenue, but also turned a profit which was not an easy task.”
Among the company’s milestones, Vanity Cosmeceutical received the Best Brand Award for Halal Skin Solutions from The Brand Laureate Asian Pacific Brands Foundation in 2018. “The award is an acknowledgement of our brand and that we are at par with other acclaimed brands in the market.”
I wanted to see if I can actually put all the things that I’ve learned into practice – or basically walk the talk.
From a staff of two in 2011, she now has 49 employees including 26 beauty advisors all over the country. April 2019 marked as their fourth month moving to a new office located in Pelabuhan Klang that houses Vanity Cosmeceutical Sdn Bhd, Vanity Global, their export subsidiary with the factory that produces Cosmoderm products.
The hardest point
The first three years of operations were deemed to be the toughest time as she was still in the process of understanding the industry better. Due to her overconfidence in the increased sales, she expanded too fast and found herself at the point where she had to make hard decisions. “We were doing great in sales but could hardly see any profit. So I went back to the drawing board and decided to cut almost half of my team and reduced all the expenses I could think of. We went for guerilla marketing and campus roadshows to build up our customer base instead of magazine and newspaper adverts”.
For Mawarni, she wasn’t afraid to start all over again and build from there. With help from key team members and a supportive mentor she stabilised the business, stemmed the losses and gradually went into the black.
Exploration and expansion
Mawarni described the success of Vanity Cosmeceutical enthusiastically; “Sales have grown consistently every year increasing between 40-50% every year. Within three years from 2015 to 2018, we doubled revenue”.
She is proud to share that more and more companies trust the brand and Cosmoderm is currently in 2000 pharmacies including all outlets for Guardian, Watsons, Caring, AEON Wellness and independent pharmacies all over Malaysia. They also have successfully penetrated in Singapore, Brunei, Maldives and Lebanon since 2012. Vanity Global, a subsidiary was established specifically to enter markets in ASEAN countries and more.
Passing on the baton
It is time for Mawarni to not only pass the knowledge but also the business to her children. Gifted with four grown talented children with strong career experiences, she gradually brought in three into the business along with a son in law followed by two daughters in law in manage operations, sales and finance. “I believe in their abilities to manage the company so I coached and empowered them. I guess I have prepared them in terms of leadership and I can see that it is working out well.”
All of my children are very dedicated and competent. They give 110% when it comes to business.
Her son-in-law is the current head of sales while her second son is in-charge of Vanity Global – where he sets the direction for export. Her youngest son is the head of operations. The Chief Operations Officer position is held by her daughter while her eldest son is in charge of the Mentari Project Association, the company’s CSR project since 2012.
The future of Vanity Cosmeceutical
With her children powering the growth of the company, she hopes that they can further develop the business especially in improving online sales. “We are already in Lazada,
Talking about international expansion, her vision of Cosmoderm becoming synonymous with Malaysian Halal skincare from Malaysia in the global market seems to be on track. “My interest right now is to grow the brand step by step. We are also eyeing to enter North America and Middle East market. With a strong financial performance, I believe it is possible to achieve it within the next three years.”