Taking The Bull By The Horn

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Raised in a military family with an entrepreneurial background, Faisal Fadzil, Managing Director of Tanamera Tropical Spa Sdn Bhd now manages his family spa and personal care business which first gained exposure and recognition in Germany. Speaking to Top 10 of Malaysia, Faisal touches on his family’s struggles, company achievements, his pet peeves and his strong family bond.

“My father was supportive when my mother got into business. She first started doing Tupperware,” says Faisal Fadzil. His first taste of a family business came with a downside. He developed a dislike for meehoon goreng and bubur kacang hijau due to attending Tupperware parties with his mother and siblings while growing up. Then, she transitioned into herbal products. “She inherited traditional formulations from my father’s aunt, who was a Royal family’s midwife and started her traditional Malay herbs range,” he explains. “We use to help out at home,” Faisal reminisces.

When Faisal’s father passed away, his mother became the sole breadwinner. With both sisters overseas at the time, Faisal began helping his mother. “It was a tough time but I focused on our survival. I grew the business with my mother and we expanded it further when my sisters returned,” explains Faisal.

Unexpectedly, their first recognition came from a lady in Germany. “We started in Germany then expanded to other European countries. Now, we’re in 15 countries,” says Faisal. The premium Tanamera brand is popular amongst Japanese communities. “Formulated, designed and manufactured here, our products are 100% Malaysian and we are proud of it, although there are Malaysians who look down on local products,” laments Faisal while sharing his dismay regarding their biggest challenge. “At the same time, we have two amazing champions in the form of Dato’ Dzulkifli Mahmud, MATRADE CEO and Dato’ Hafsah Hashim, SME Corp CEO. Now all Formula 1 drivers get a Tanamera gift pack,” he adds. The company has 7 acres of land in Kuala Selangor with 2 factories, apart from their current office at Kampung Melayu Subang.

Tanamera, coined by Faisal, is derived from Tanah Merah which is the healthiest soil. “Our formulation is based on the Malay art of wellness and eco-consciousness so it is ethnic-chic,” shares Faisal. “We try to explain diversity with our products, like our Warna soap which consists of three colours – one made of bamboo charcoal representing the Chinese, one made of tumeric representing Indians and one made of coconut oil representing Malays. I did it for fun but people love it,” Faisal adds.

There are three requirements for a Tanamera product. “It has to be human-friendly and safe, eco-friendly and animal-friendly, so we test the products on family members and Directors instead,” says Faisal with a laugh. They are also the only ones with a training SOP on the Malay art of beauty and wellness. “We run three spas and do regimental trainings for those carrying Tanamera products. We have the retail range, professional range, hotel range, baby range, post-natal range which is number one in Vietnam, and spa range,” Faisal elaborates.

Future plans include expansion. “We want to have a more visible branding and our own retail locations. We plan to open our first outlet in Japan by 2017. That’s pretty exciting,” Faisal shares. Tanamera is already recognized internationally nevertheless. “We are the first with 100% natural ingredients. We are also one of only 2 personal care brands in Southeast Asia to ever win the prestigious Japanese G-Mark award. I put all achievements on equal footing,” adds Faisal.

As a leader, he is approachable but respect is important and he prefers everyone pitching in. “I’m not short-tempered but I cannot tolerate apathy, carelessness and taking things for granted. I’m straightforward but I talk about issues privately. I don’t believe in embarrassing people,” Faisal explains.

He shares that there is little need for balancing his life as he’s happy doing what he does. “We are blessed as our family is closer because of the business,” adds Faisal. Evidently, family comes first. “My mom and my family are the two greatest inspirations for me. My dad’s values inspire me also,” shares Faisal. Hence, his greatest achievement is unsurprising. “One morning, my mom hugged me and said ‘You have done well taking care of your family.’ That meant a lot. My family, friends, pets and being able to help people along the way means a lot too,” he adds.

His advice for budding entrepreneurs is simple. “There’s only one keyword and everything else is secondary. It is tenacity. If you give up easy, don’t go into business, period. Also, without integrity the wealth won’t last.”