Orkid Cosmetics website.
Raeesa with kids during coding class at iTrain event.
Orkid Cosmatics Founder, Raeesa Sya aims to make halal beauty products popular in Malaysia. Pix by Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman
Some of Orkid Cosmetics’ lipstick range. Pix by Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman

Way of the millennial

Tech-savvy and hungry for success, Raeesa Sya embodies the millennial spirit, writes Izwan Ismail.

RAEESA Sya is one talented woman. At 27, she has probably ventured into more things than her peers.

Her resume reads like a dream: Tech and beauty start-up founder, consultant, design agency owner and now, cosmetic line owner.

Raeesa has also won a string of accolades: Marie Claire's 10 awe-inspiring women of Malaysia 2017, Tech in Asia 12 under-30 promising SEA entrepreneur 2016, Cleo Hotshots 30 under-30 2014, First runner-up of D3MDD Hackathon 2014 and more.

EXPERIENCED MILLENIAL
The Lim Kok Wing-Curtin University graduate studied Graphics Design and majored in Multimedia. She spent her early career in design and start-up companies.

“I gained a lot of knowledge and experience developing websites using Flash, HTML and Java script,” says Raeesa, who is from Subang Jaya.

She is also creative with a passion for street art and custom-designed shoes and clothing, which she sold via MySpace back in 2007 when she was still in high school. That was the start of her entrepreneurial career.

Her talent in building start-up companies is extraordinary, considering her young age.

After graduating in 2010, Raeesa joined blog advertising company Nuffnang, and did a microsite for the company. She handled regional accounts for Asia Pacific under Netccentric.

A year and a half later, she took a year's sabbatical, and did design consultancy and Islamic content syllabus for kindergartens using Adobe tools.

When social media gained popularity, she joined IM4U and helped grow its social media presence.

Her interest in social media in terms of helping to boost business presence and influence grew.

She delved into growth hacking, social media strategy, digital marketing and brand identity, and even ran two start-ups besides securing investments.


Raeesa giving a talk at one of the girls in tech events.

In 2015, Raeesa founded a tech and beauty startup (Lulu). It was later acquired by HMH Technologies.

A year later, she successfully raised a six-digit US dollar funding from Silicon Valley-backed venture capitalist (VC) firm 500 start-ups, KK Fund and Captii, with her co-founders for her start-up, Bfab.

Apart from running start-ups and now, a cosmetic line, her design agency (Revolt) specialises in brand identity and creative solutions for start-ups, small business owners and corporate companies.

Raeesa also provides consultancy in digital media to clients like Serai Group, Carhartt, Tabung Haji, Pop Digital and The Rec Room.

SEEING OPPORTUNITIES
Raeesa has been pondering on venturing into real product business for some time.

“Halal product business is one area that is less tapped by Malaysians. I feel that halal cosmetics have far lesser players, hence the establishment of Orkid Cosmetics.”

Orkid Cosmetics offers a line of halal and syariah-compliant matte-coloured liquid lipsticks.

“Matte liquid lipstick is a trend among millenials today, made popular by the likes of Kendell Jenner,” she says.

Many popular lipstick brands are not affordable to students and those who just started working.

“These are the customers I'm targeting — those who cannot afford to spend much on cosmetics, yet want to look trendy and fashionable.

“Social media is where they look for such products,” says Raeesa.

To date, Orkid Cosmetics has close to 2,400 followers on Instagram. Raeesa also uses other platforms such as Facebook and the official website (https://www.orkidcosmetics.com) to push her products.

CHALLENGES
Producing a fully-halal product line is not without its challenges.

For Raeesa, it's a new learning curve.

“We need to ensure that everything is according to syariah — from content and processing right up to the packaging.

“We are also a vegan company, meaning all of our products are made using plant-based materials. We work in a very lean style, using social media and some influencers to promote the products, such as Google Analytics, digital marketing tools and refferal candy.”

Orkid Cosmetics lipsticks are priced at RM39 and can be ordered online via its website and Instagram.

“Moving forward, my goal is to make halal beauty products popular in Malaysia and possibly, in the future, build a boutique lab for my products.”

At the same time, she will continue to share her knowledge in building start-ups, empowering women in tech and entrepreneurship matters.


Raeesa says halal product business is one area that is less tapped by Malaysians especially halal cosmetics. Pix by Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman

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