Support local: Singapore beauty retailer aiming to expand its portfolio of local halal, vegan and organic brands in light of COVID-19
The Min List is a multilabel boutique that focuses on halal, vegan and organic beauty and personal care products.
It was founded in 2016 by three partners from business, engineering and IT backgrounds. In 2018, the company refocused the business towards halal beauty.
“We realised that there were many Muslim consumers having a hard time finding good halal-certified beauty products. They needed a trustworthy place where they could shop easily without having to scrutinise every single ingredient,” said co-founder Nur Adlina Adyani Abu Samah.
Since then, the company has expanded scope of its brands to vegan and organic products.
“To be honest, the demand for halal cosmetics is not enough to be the only selling point. [Muslim consumers] say its good to have halal certification, but its not the main point they look for. Even if its vegan, they are willing to try it,” said Adlina.
The company began with an e-commerce platform and opened its first boutique in October last year.
Six months after its opening, the store was forced to close temporarily during the country’s ‘circuit breaker’ period that lasted nearly three months from April.
During the lockdown, the company took some of the downtime to source for new brands to bring into the market, especially local brands.
“Even though we are always on the lookout for international brands, in the current situation we are trying to expand our portfolio of local brands,” said Adlina.
Like other businesses, the firm faced issues with logistics issues such as shipping delays from the international brands it represents.
“There will be more emphasis on local sourcing in the future. Not just in beauty. We know of fellow business owners in other industries that have encountered logistical issues and forced to look for local alternatives,” said Adlina.
Currently, the firm carries over 30 brands and less than 10 are local. Moving forward it hopes that local brands will make up at least half of its portfolio.
“There are all these up and coming local brands because of the clean beauty trend. We’re seeing many local brands crop up in the market focus on vegan, organic and even eco-beauty. Even local publications are picking up on these local indie brands, so there’s definitely a growing interest,” said Adlina.
She added: “At the same time, we can support local business during this tough situation. It’s a win-win situation for all.”
The Min List boutique has since reopened but sales are still sluggish.
“We’ve definitely seen a dip on the retail front. We thought people would return after circuit breaker, but we are still seeing more people online. I guess it because even with things started opening back up, people are still uncomfortable going out,” said Adlina.
On the bright side, it has seen a steady increase of online sales. “Moving forward our focus is to drive traffic online. It will also help us grow our outreach internationally, which is something we have been working towards,” said Adlina.
Adlina revealed that the company was previously planning to expand into the Middle East by replicating its omnichannel model.
“Given the situation, we had to pull back a bit. Instead of opening up a physical store, we will be working to increase the traction to the website through a mix of digital advertising and influencer marketing.”
She continued: “Our main goal is to be the go-to source for halal, vegan, organic and clean beauty products. We want to be a place where Muslim shoppers can buy products with ease.”