Rather than avocado on toast, this 'cafe' in Malaysia serves makeup instead

Makeup cafe Pinkboxcereal is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo: Shahirah Hamid)

Looking for a fun-filled weekend activity? How about a short getaway to Kuala Lumpur to check out Malaysia’s first-ever makeup cafe, Pinkboxcereal. But, instead of munching on the hipster cafe staple of overpriced avocado on toast, Pinkboxcereal lets you try on all sorts of makeup and skincare products.

For just RM25 (S$8), makeup addicts are allowed to play with the wide range of beauty products and experiment with different makeup styles for two hours.

The Pinkboxcereal makeup cafe was founded by 26-year-old beauty vlogger Shafiqah Shafie, fondly known as ‘Shaf’, who ventured into the beauty industry after quitting her job as an Air Asia flight attendant two years ago.

After noticing her interest in all things beauty, Shafiqah’s husband, 28-year-old Mohamad Iylia Fahmi Azmi, persuaded her to try her hand at the beauty and skincare business. She enrolled herself at a local cosmetology school, SUB International School in Berjaya Times Square, to obtain a professional certificate and enhance her aesthetics skills. While Shafiqah is the face of the business, her husband handles the finances.

“There’s no significant meaning behind the name ‘Pinkboxcereal’. When I wanted to register the company, my husband pointed out that I have a lot of pink coloured boxes, so that’s how we came up with the name. But we found out that the name ‘Pink Box’ was taken so we had to randomly chose a word, and ‘cereal’ just popped into my head,” quipped the beauty guru.

Shafiqah started her journey in beauty by sharing makeup and skincare tutorials on her YouTube channel, which has more than 19,000 subscribers. Now, she is growing her beauty business with her e-commerce store, www.shoppinkboxcereal.com, and the makeup cafe. Her Instagram profile, @Pinkboxcereal, has amassed nearly 40,000 followers. She affectionately calls her adoring followers ‘dolls’, who are mainly middle-class Malaysian women.

Owner of Pinkboxcereal and Malaysian beauty influencer Shafiqah Shafie. (Photo: Shahirah Hamid)

Play and bond with makeup 

The interior of the cafe is decked out in all things pink. A row of vanity mirrors are mounted on the striking pink walls, perfect to capture the best selfie moments. The vision of the cafe is to exude classic Hollywood glamour.

The couple, who has been married for five years, invested about RM50,000 on renovation and leasing a bigger space in the affluent suburb of Mutiara Damansara. Previously, they were located in a smaller unit in another suburb called Empire Damansara. The new location is approximately 20 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

Single mum Nadra JZ, 44, believes the makeup cafe is a great way for her to bond with her daughter, Zara Aliyah. She spent an hour testing and playing around with the makeup selection with her 10-year-old.

“My daughter and I had a lot of fun. It’s a wonderful concept as you get to test out different products which you wouldn’t usually have the chance to elsewhere. She [Shafiqah] has some pretty good items available, like Kat Von D.”

“I think having a more relaxed environment gives you a better chance of learning about the products. I’m glad I stumbled upon this place and I think my daughter wants to come back here again,” shared Nadra.

Sarawakian Albie Backer is an avid follower of Shafiqah’s Instagram account. She enjoys watching Shafiqah’s skincare tips and has attended a few of Shafiqah’s beauty workshops.

“I have sensitive skin and, since using Pinkboxcereal’s in-house brand, I see a difference in my skin’s appearance,” she said.

(Photo: Shahirah Hamid)

“The idea of this makeup cafe is really excellent. You could say I’m a makeup addict because I love everything about makeup,” added the 32-year-old.

With over 100 products available at the cafe, the husband and wife team spend between RM2,000 and RM3,000 a month replenishing the stocks.

“We want people to feel like they are walking into a cosmetics store. Seventy per cent of our products are local brands, while 30 per cent are imported from South Korea, Japan and Turkey. We are looking to expand our collection,” said Shafiqah.

“I’m very particular with the brands I choose to feature in the store. Most of the items are brands that I trust and use regularly. The products available at the store cater to the discerning Asian consumers,” she added.

There is also the issue of hygiene when it comes to sharing makeup, but Shafiqah was quick to dispel any misconceptions. For the ex-flight attendant, cleanliness is paramount, and assures that all brushes, sponges and other makeup tools are sanitised and sterilised using an industry-standard steriliser machine.

Each customer is given two hours to experiment with the makeup products available. These include cheek tints by Benefit and shimmery dusting powder by Lush. (Photo: Shahirah Hamid)

The cafe can accommodate around 40 visitors at one time. They also cater to private parties such as birthday celebrations and bridal showers. The beautypreneur also conducts workshops on a regular basis which she charges RM250 onwards for five hours.

According to Shafiqah, if a particular style or trend looks good on them, it shows that they are brave and confident to express themselves. The beauty influencer advises her dolls to always stay hydrated to maintain a youthful complexion.

For now, the cafe opens only on weekends, from 2pm to 8pm. Customers will be treated to some simple tidbits and a cup of coffee or tea. According to Shafiqah, she wants to focus on her online makeup store but welcomes the idea of extending the operating hours on weekdays if it receives an overwhelming response.

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