Entrepreneurship defines the career choices of Hemy Sorfina Halim, the founder and Managing Director of Sorfina Hal, a halal local cosmetics brand. An electrical engineer by training and after a decade of working in the US, Hemy Sorfina came back to Malaysian shores to helm her family’s businesses in the health and food industry. The growing consumer consciousness for safety in cosmetics and the promising prospects of the halal industry has led to the creation of Sorfina Hal, a cosmetics brand epitomising halal certified natural ingredients. In a conversation with Niagatimes, Hemy Sorfina speaks on her journey of embracing the halal concept through cosmetics and her vision of building Sorfina Hal into a Malaysian brand that will leave an inspiring legacy.
Growing up with two brothers, Hemy Sorfina admits to a tomboyish childhood in Kota Bharu, Kelantan and later in Seattle in the United States when she followed her father on his doctoral studies. “I came back to continue my studies in Kuala Lumpur. However, I never used cosmetics as there was no need for it,” says Hemy with an impish grin. “My first lipstick moment happened at the age of 23,” she adds.
“I have been exposed to business from a young age. After coming back from the United States, I took over my mother’s pharmaceutical business,” she recalls. “I negotiated with Cubans over deals and it was an achievement for me to get tenders and licenses approved. My brand, Sorfina Hal, is a personal mission for me as I started the business on a level-playing field,” she explains.
“There is a need for safe cosmetics which women can use without worrying about the consequences. Sorfina Hal is safe as it is made from non-synthetic products. The ingredients used in our products are certified halal by the local authorities,” Hemy shares. Pure, plush and permissible defines the brand message of Sorfina Hal.
“The halal cosmetics industry is a relatively new industry that has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years from a rise in consumer awareness. Projected for a US$52.02 billion market growth by 2025, the potentials of the industry are tremendous and Sorfina Hal is getting ready for the big wave,” says Hemy, an avid scuba diver, on her visions of building an international halal brand.
“Sorfina Hal was launched early this year in February as a downstream product of our main company DNA Biosciences,” Hemy shares. “We have established our presence at Mihas and online retail websites and we received enquiries from Singapore and the Middle-East. In fact, we have been invited to join a halal hub in Singapore,” she says excitedly. The company’s main distribution channels are mainly online based on the popularity of e-commerce cosmetic websites. The current product offerings include lip cream with plans to extend into skin care and eye cosmetics.
The main challenge the brand is facing is getting sufficient finances for ongoing expansion as it is a highly operating intensive industry, especially in marketing. As for Hemy’s management practices, she delegates tasks. “I am a big believer in delegation. I trust my employees and give them the opportunity and independence to get things done. The success of the company thus far is due to my team’s contributions. I am just as detail oriented as Steve Jobs but immeasurably nicer!” laughs Hemy.
Moreover, her inspiration to move forward is setting goals for her company and achieving milestones. As for her work-life balance, reading and spending time with friends and family are Hemy’s favourite ways of relaxing. Travelling and tennis are other leisure activities interposed between work and she shares that learning to let go is an achievement acquired from the travails of doing business.
In terms of advice for young people about to start a business, determination, focus and tenacity are important criteria. “Rough patches along the way must never be the reason for giving up as trials, hardships and even failures, are actually stepping stones to success when one has overcome them,” says Hemy.