Muhammad Khairul Anwar bin Rosli, better known as Nuex Rosli, is a professional makeup artist, entrepreneur and sciences whizz. But more importantly, Nuex is someone who grew up knowing nothing but hard work and love. “I’m the third child amongst eight siblings. My parents worked hard to raise us up. My father worked as a clerk during my childhood years and didn’t earn much. My mom, on the other hand, had to stay at home to care for all of us,” Nuex shares.
In order to earn extra income for the children’s education, his family would sell nasi lemak in the morning and pisang goreng in the evening. “We even sold ice-cream Malaysia and burgers at our neighbourhood. My father would sometimes take us out to collect aluminium tins to sell as well. Looking back, they were the ones who sow the seed of entrepreneurship in me,” Nuex proudly informs, adding that he is not ashamed of his background at all. “As a child, I never felt embarrassed about my family. I don’t care if my friends know that I sell nasi lemak too! Heck, I even took orders from them during school days. My childhood moulded me to become the person I am today, and I truly appreciate the journey.”
Presently, all his hard work had paid off when Nuex was awarded as the New Entrepreneur Award (Muslimah Fashion) in 2017 and Beauty Industry Entrepreneurship Icon Award in 2018 by NiagaTimes.
I gave up my doctorate degree to become a full-time entrepreneur.
Were you always a creative person growing up?
This may come out as a surprise, but I am not a creative person. I can’t draw to save my life! I can still vividly remember how I hated Pendidikan Seni during my school days. I’m bad even at colouring! [laughs] But no, I’ve always been a scientific person. As a child, it was my ambition to be a doctor.
So, how did being a doctor lead you to where you are today?
During my tertiary studies, I was offered to study Artificial Intelligence. I didn’t like it at all because it has more to do with engineering and computer science than biology. Despite that, I stayed on as per my father’s request. He said, “God must have other plans for you”. I also joined the university’s theatrical group. There, I had to learn how to do my own makeup. And I’m talking about dramatic effect makeup that can transform you into anything else. [laughs] Anyway, my career started when three juniors came up to me and my best friend Syedewa for makeup services. We gave it our best shot and honestly, the makeup was horrible (for me, at least [laughs]). But they loved it! It wasn’t long before more people were requesting for our services. In a way, our client’s satisfaction instilled our interest to further sharpen our skill. After graduation, I fought to put myself back into science. I wasn’t an easy task, but I managed to continue my Master’s degree in Biology, specialising in genetic studies.
Oh wow, how did you manage your studies and find time for have time for makeup?
To this, I have my professors to thank, especially Professor Badrul Munir. Without his support, it would have been almost impossible for me and Syedewa to juggle between work and study. And we didn’t disappoint him as we managed to finish our research papers within 2 years. We even published 7 international research papers and few proceedings. My faculty were impressed and asked me to get my PhD. So, I took up the challenge to work on my research papers while building my business. But being a doctorate candidate and a businessman at the same time wasn’t easy at all! I had to juggle between my makeup jobs, as I was practically booked almost every day, and my own hijab brand, Absolute, which was growing fast then. Three years later, I gave up my doctorate degree to become a full-time entrepreneur.
It certainly is a long journey!
It has been an incredible one! I remember how we used to study the latest makeup trends and how-to tutorials on YouTube [laughs]. And we’ll watch them during our lab works’ free interval with our lab coats on [laughs]. I also took a class with celebrity makeup artist Rose Jr. so that I can learn more about the industry and polish my techniques.
But what made you launch NR Cosmetics?
The idea started when I noticed that despite the speedy growth of our local cosmetics industry, not many were able to capture the ideology, theory and the science behind beauty products. Amidst the blooming market, I figured it’d be good to infuse my expertise and create high-quality products that can meet international standard. Also, there were only a few local brands catering to the professionals. I personally love international brands like Charlotte Tilbury, Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana. When some of the local cosmetic brands asked me to review their products, I was sceptical, to be honest. I gave them a try nonetheless. Sadly, it didn’t meet my standard. I’m not saying they are all bad. Some are actually good. However, the majority can’t even be compared to drugstore brands like Maybelline, L’Oréal or Revlon. Yet, a few managed to market their products well and became viral on social media despite their mediocre quality. And it blew my mind to know people are obsessed with them. You can say NRC is my way of educating the masses. Additionally, it’s my dream to create a local brand that professional makeup artists can trust.
How was the process like?
I took the advantage of my scientific background and combined it with my artistic experience to formulate the best product in the market. Of course, my experience working with chemicals was a huge bonus too! I chose a local factory certified with GMP by our government and worked closely with its chemists. The goal is to produce a product that a professional makeup artist would use yet easy enough for a newbie to apply. Firstly, it has to withstand our Malaysian weather. Secondly, it should be beneficial for the end users. That’s why I included ingredients that are good for the skin, such as brown algae, argan oil, honey bee venom and vitamin E & C. Thirdly, it has to be suitable for all skin type, from the very dry to the very oily. This would mean professionals would not need to carry a range of products to cater to different skins. And lastly, it must consist of a wide skin colour spectrum! My main focus is to start with makeup base products (skin prep, foundation, powder etc), and slowly build my way up to a complete makeup range!
Speaking of the ingredients, can I say it’s sort of like a makeup with treatment?
Exactly! For example, our face mist is infused with pitera, which can be found in SK-II. You can spray it on your face accompanied by your makeup or incorporate it into your daily skincare routine. Also, our moisturiser has Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, honey bee venom and sunblock. There are many testimonies of how our products helped improve our client’s skin. It’s amazing!
Was it challenging to start your own makeup line?
Hmmm, the current challenge I’m facing is counterfeit. If you’re not familiar with our brand, you won’t notice the difference in terms of packaging. It’s that similar! Of course, I can’t really do much. And I don’t mind as people are inspired by the best. In the end, the consumers have to be smart. If it is below our market price, be careful; It could be a duped version!
Always look ahead and do your best. Know what is important to you and be grateful.
What is your ultimate goal in the beauty industry?
I would like NRC to be the brand of choice, locally and internationally. For now, we’re working on getting the halal certification so that we can launch it in Dubai. I want to show that it’s possible to create a locally priced yet internationally qualified product. I’m thrilled knowing more professional makeup artists are loving and using NRC now! It brings me great pleasure! And because they trust my knowledge and my products, there are requests from our users asking me to start a skincare range. But that’s still on hold. Let’s see how things go.
Is there anything else that you’d want to do?
Being in the beauty industry for the past 8 years, I believe it is high time that I contribute back to the community. I’ve been working on this non-profit charity programme, where I ask and encourage people from this industry to join hands and help those in need. Besides the glitz and glams, I want to show the society who we are and what we can do! There’re more projects to come and everyone is invited to join us!
Lastly, what is your formula for success?
To always remember those around you. I’m a family man and this empire I’m building, I’ve looped in all of my family members. I even made my sister sell her company’s share to come work with me [laughs]. Anyway, my drive is my family because if I fall, they will too. Which is why I would make sure I do whatever I can to push through any obstacles, for their sake. Also, you must experience failure to be successful. Even if you’re an MBA graduate, your business will fall without experience. And if you have the experience, don’t be afraid to share your knowledge with others. You can only grow if you share. Furthermore, be proud of who you are and what you’re good at. Be strong as criticism comes and go. Don’t let it break you. Always look ahead and do your best. Know what is important to you and be grateful. One day, you’ll eventually be there.
For more information, www.absolute.my