Five years into her career as a medical doctor in Malaysia, Dr Maryam Aziz knew that she could do more with her life. “Growing up, I’ve always been attracted to things that are challenging. The reason why I took up medicine was because I was told that it is the hardest subject,” she laughs, elaborating that though it was tough, she still managed to find time to sneak in some business into her equation.
“I prepared breakfast and sold it at the auditorium and lecture hall. I even baked cakes and sold it to the hostel’s cafeterias. This is how much I love doing business,” she admits. Even after graduating from IIUM (International Islamic University Malaysia) with an MBBS in 2011, she was juggling her professional medical career and working as an agent for Shaklee.
However, as time passed, Maryam realised that she had missed several milestones of her first child and decided to shift her priorities. “I resigned from my day job and quit my part-time business to start Mary Jardin in 2016. From the formulation to production, everything was done in my own kitchen,” Maryam informs. Today, the proud mother of two is a successful self-made entrepreneur in the beauty industry.
Crafting Her Own Path
Maryam’s decision to become a businesswoman was not something expected of her. “All the men in my life are engineers while all the women are housewives. Yet, business was something I’m passionate about,” she says, noting that even when she was briefly in Jordan after graduation (her husband studied there), she started her own bakery business before returning back to Malaysia for her housemanship. “I’m a very self-motivated person and the kind who can’t sit still. This was most evident during my university days. I couldn’t study all day long. It’s boring. That’s why I did business. And I continue to do it until today.”
Making Natural Accessible
During her tenure in the medical department, Maryam was working in the dermatology clinic. “I initially applied to do aesthetic but had to abandon the plan due to unforeseen circumstances. From there, I became a Shakelee agent and built my audience in the beauty segment. The moment I decided to start my own business, I knew it had to be something I’m comfortable with and that the market is lacking,” she relates.
“The moment I decided to start my own business, I knew it had to be something I’m comfortable with and that the market is lacking”
Before Mary Jardin, natural and organic skincare brands were not only hard to find, but also came with a hefty price tag. “It’s not something most people can afford nor something people were familiar with. The average individual would know brands like Clean & Clear or Safi. But not many would know what is inside the product. With Mary Jardin, I want to help all women to enjoy the luxury of natural skincare and cosmetics safely and more economically.”
Maryam’s Herbal Garden
“Jardin is French for garden. And Mary is derived from Maryam. The name itself says a lot about me. I enjoy spending time on activities that are related to home and nature. With Mary Jardin, it is a combination of both. You can be assured that each product is handcrafted with love,” guarantees Maryam.
“With Mary Jardin, I want to help all women to enjoy the luxury of natural skincare and cosmetics safely and more economically.”
Prior to formulating her star product, she attended various classes and workshops to further equip her for her business. “I tried several formulas with various ingredients to achieve something that I could be proud of. Needless to say, it involved several trials and errors. Eventually, I found one that gave the best result and today, the anti-acne handcrafted luxury facial soap is Mary Jardin’s bestselling product. I really love it a lot, and so do my customers.”
Putting her medical knowledge into natural practice
As one of the pioneers of the beauty industry in Malaysia, Maryam has managed to stay at the top by incorporating her medical knowledge into her business. “When it comes to medicine, there are two types: curative and preventive. The former is something all of us are familiar with. Say, a doctor prescribes a drug to cure an illness. But there is also preventive medicine whereby a doctor would advise certain lifestyle changes or additional supplements to help prevent certain diseases from arising,” she explains, emphasising that medicine encompasses a very broad area and doesn’t always fall into the curative field.
“You need to educate your customers, not mislead them with ridiculous marketing schemes.”
“In preventive medicine, we also have alternative medicine, which includes natural and herbal remedies, and mind-body therapies (such as acupuncture, meditation and yoga).” To that, Maryam carefully stresses that her products do not have curative properties. “Different people have different needs. If you have a medical condition, you need the right active ingredient (and dosage) to heal you. Whenever I have people coming in, asking if Mary Jardin can cure their acne problem or fungal infection, I would tell them the truth. My products are not a substitute for curative drugs. You need to educate your customers, not mislead them with ridiculous marketing schemes.”
The Importance of Responsible Marketing
Marketing is perhaps the most important activity in a business because it has a direct effect on profitability and sales. Unfortunately, many businesses use it to mislead consumers for their personal gains. “That, or they lack the knowledge to guide the masses,” Maryam opines. One such case was of an acquaintance. “The brand was reported to possess mercury and the founder was accused of dishonest conduct. However, it was only later that we found out that she genuinely was not aware of the danger of mercury poisoning,” she narrates in disbelief. “Not many care for the products. Their main concern is just to sell.”
“It’s against my principle to exaggerate and take advantage of people who are desperate.”
Whereas with Mary Jardin, Maryam strongly believes in educating the masses. “The fact that I formulated my own products means I can explain in-depth about the benefits of each ingredient used, including how it functions and what can be expected from it. I do not claim Mary Jardin can miraculously brighten up your skin within 3 days. It’s logically impossible. It’s against my principle to exaggerate and take advantage of people who are desperate. Natural products need time. At the end of the day, I know my territory and have no problem by being honest with my customers.”
You decide how to live your life
In addition to owning a beauty brand, Maryam has also 4 companies across different industries which are parked under the Hilde Group umbrella. “A year after Mary Jardin, I also founded our own GMP certified factory The Luxe Production. Following suit was MJ Luxe Label, which showcases a range of nature motif shawls and Mary’s Farmhouse, which promotes clean eating for children and the parents,” she lists out. “Hilde, on the other hand, provides corporate services including management, administration, finance and multimedia to help and guide small businesses grow. We have a premium training hall that can cater up to 300 people in one seating.”
“When it comes to starting a business, I have learnt that it is crucial to have the right business mentor.”
Simply put, Hilde aims to help fulfil ‘Every Entrepreneurs Dream’. “When it comes to starting a business, I have learnt that it is crucial to have the right business mentor. Sadly, a surprising number of entrepreneurs start their careers without one. And believe it or not, your chances of success in life and in business can be amplified by having the right teacher,” Maryam reveals. “By having one, you will not only gain experience not shared in books, you will be more likely to succeed. The valuable connections, timely advice, occasional checks – together with the spiritual and moral guidance you will gain from having a mentor – will literally leapfrog you to success.”