Halal skincare to be a strong niche market

(Staff Report)
Filed on January 9, 2011
Halal skincare to be a strong niche market

DUBAI — Layla Mandi is a young Canadian Muslim woman who has single-handedly ventured into the still unexplored field of manufacturing and marketing a wide range of Halal beauty products.

“I developed OnePure products because I wanted Muslims around the world to have the choice of Halal certified beauty products that were chick, effective and luxurious,” Layla, the CEO and founder of OnePure, told Khaleej Times in an interview in Dubai.

In Dubai she is looking for a reputable partner to distribute her products in the region. She has just returned from Pakistan attending the first Global Halal Congress in Karachi.

The formulae of the products were developed by her in Canada working with a chemist and a dermatologist. The products are manufactured in Malaysia and certified Halal by JAKIM (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia), the internationally recognised centre of Halal certification services based in Malaysia.

As a requirement of JAKIM, OnePure products carry the Halal logo on their labels. Halal is derived from the Arabic word which means permitted or allowed by Islamic law.

“Some companies claim certification through a consultancy or just label products Halal but are sadly misleading and not regulated,” Layla said.

She said that several ingredients of beauty products could be derived from pork as well as from vegetables. “When we buy a product, we do not know the source of its ingredients. That is why a Halal certification is necessary to ensure that the source are vegetables and not pork,” she said.

Layla’s story of struggle, specially being a woman, and her success in building a brand in a highly competitive international market, is a source of inspiration for young women like her. In the interview she talks about what motivated her to revert to Islam, enter this field of business, her obstacles, her progress and her plans.

Initially the issues that inspired her to learn more about Islam were the strong family ties and values of the Muslim families she knew growing up. At a time when most families were divorcing, the Muslim families were connected and strong.

As she matured and educated herself about Islam, the Muslim way of life made perfectly clear sense to her. “it felt “true” and I knew I found the guidance, in the Quran, that I had been searching for in my life,” she said.

Having studied Canadian history, Layla worked as a make-up artist for fashion catalogues because she loved travel and as a make-up artist she could do that. In her work she was appreciated for her attention and eye for detail.

This motivated her to start her own business in 2006. That needed research. Searching through Google, to her surprise, nothing came up for “Halal skincare”.

When learning about Islam she asked a simple question: ”If my skincare contain questionable ingredients can I pray?” the answer she was told was a big ‘NO’.

So she started searching for products that did not contain ingredients forbidden in Islam and after spending endless confusing hours at the mall she figured she needed to develop a brand to give herself and all Muslim women a clear choice, a Halal certified skincare line that was results based and was luxurious, modern and cool. Slowly but surely OnePure was born.

She started with OnePure make-up products like lipstick etc, and moved on to skincare products and cosmetics. “This has become my passion. I believe I am setting a new standard in Halal certified beauty,” she said.

“In the past four to five years, the industry has developed so rapidly that we can find pages after pages on Halal beauty products on Google,” she said.

Her products include a wide range of essentials, whiteners, anti-aging products and treatments. “In my opinion I have fabulous cleansers, a really effective Acne treatment and the best eye cream on the market,” she said.

“My target customer is a 30 year old Muslim woman who wears Hijab and has her own career and income. She is looking for a product that reflects her identity as a Muslim at an entry-level price,” Layla explained.

OnePure are available in the Gulf since January 2010. In Dubai, they can be had from Galeries Lafayette and Soiree boutique. They are also on sale in Egypt and on Saudi Arabian Airlines. And of course they are available in Canada.

Layla plans to introduce the products in Kuwait and in Pakistan this year.

“Women anywhere in the world can also buy the products online . The shipment is free,” she said.

“Gradually, I plan to grow internationally with physical presence of my products. I strive to ensure OnePure is competitive on an international scale at each stage from packaging, design, R&D and ultimately results for my customer satisfaction. With these goals I certainly believe OnePure is a global brand for all deserving women,” she said.

About the obstacles she had in developing her brand, Layla said that she has self-funded the entire way and she is currently the sole owner of the brand. She has built the brand to a stage that she needs a strong partner.

“I am now looking forward to companies who are interested to work as importers and distributors for the OnePure brand and who know the industry and the Gulf market and have a strong distribution network,” she said.

“I am also interested to talk to companies who want to do contract manufacturing or create their own brand of Halal cosmetics as I can certainly help them do this. I am looking for serious partners for investment and distribution,” she said.

One difficulty Layla faces in the Gulf, being a woman, is that she has to deal with men, mostly, and she feels that after while they get nervous around her. This is a challenge for her.

Layla said that people are not aware of Halal cosmetics and their concept, so they ask a lot of questions. Once they get the answers, they are happy to have the choice.

Layla said that many people wonder how haram (forbidden, prohibited by the faith) animal ingredients end up in their skincare and the simplest way to explain it is that a lot of ingredients are made from animal by products-including haram animal and the by-products are sold to skincare companies and put into the products for various effects, for example to make the product thicker. Gross.

Layla said that OnePure creates all the products with hot weather countries in mind. The weather here makes skincare needs very different than North American issues and all major brands develop products for cold climates.

“For example when creating the moisturisers I wanted something that didn’t slide off and sweat in the heat. I insist on creating formulations in small, artisan batches and use flower and plant extracts, avocado and jojoba oils and vitamin E to name a few of the items in the products,” she said.

OnePure has developed products with a heavy emphasis on anti-aging and one of the more popular products has been its eye cream, which targets dark circles by improving circulation in the orbital area. “I work hard, I listen to my customers,” she said.

Layla said that the Halal beauty products industry, estimated to be a trillion dollar industry, is at its inception worldwide with about five companies. OnePure is the only range that can compete with the major international brands, she said.

“Over time, I expect it to develop into a very strong niche market,” Layla said.

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