Ever worry that losing the perfect job or having a work-related setback means the end of your career? You need to read Maleka Dutta’s story; when she went from being a Senior Vice President at an international beauty company to being unemployed, she used the opportunity to realise her dream of starting her own skincare brand, Merumaya.
GLAMOUR chatted to Maleka for our How I Got My Job In Beauty series – and got the lowdown on turning failure into success…
“My parents wanted me to be a doctor”
Maleka’s traditional parents emigrated to the UK and always assumed that she would want to take advantage of the country’s educational benefits. “I practically had to scrape my Dad off the ceiling when I’d announced a desire to be a hairdresser. He begged me to do my A-levels, but after a year, seeing it was not for me, he told me to go ahead and train in hairdressing and beauty therapy. While I had a flair for it, I knew I didn’t want to work in a salon.” A few weeks later, after a woman from a skincare company gave a talk at the salon, Maleka immediately wrote to the company founder to ask for a job. “She loved my chutzpah and I got the job. I was in.”
“It was awful to realise I was so disposable”
Three years later, Maleka had moved on to a new role as a Training Manager at an international beauty brand. “It was a massive change – I went from being a reasonable-sized cog in a small wheel to being a small cog in a big wheel,” she says.
After several promotions there, she took the helm at Origins and after that, a small natural skincare brand. “Over 9 years, I built the team and together we grew the awareness, sales, market share and profitability for the UK market, making it the most successful international market for the brand.”
Maleka was soon promoted to Senior Vice President and moved to New York but after Maleka got caught up in a political situation, staying on became impossible. “I was crushed when I got fired, and actually, it’s still quite hurtful ten years on. I’d worked successfully at the company for 21 years and it was awful to realise I was so disposable.”
Regrouping and carrying on
Rather than letting losing her job defeat her, Maleka saw it as an opportunity to pursue her dreams. “I’d always wanted my own beauty business – I knew I could create a brand that would resonate with results, integrity and a strong message about female confidence. My father worked in the control tower at Heathrow and loved his job, but did not pursue his dream of his own business because he didn’t want to risk mine and my sister’s future. This was my chance to fulfil both our dreams and to re-invent myself after my corporate career had come to a halt”
I went from being homeless to training for my dream job as a beauty therapist, here’s how…
Merumaya and the unexpected
When starting her brand, one thing was easy for Maleka: the name. “The word ‘Merumaya’ is a made up combination of the first two initials of each member of our family’s name, as my father would have called his business.” The rest of it took two years of research on the most effective clinically tested ingredients, the sensory elements to enhance users confidence and pleasure, and finding best professors of cosmetic science possible. “Integrity, performance, female confidence, positive dialogue and honesty was at the heart of everything we did. The products are vegan and cruelty-free, and we take sustainability measures, too. We also coined the positive term ‘youthful ageing’, vs. anti-ageing to underline our belief that #BeautyHasNoAge.”
“Another important element to the brand is that of empowering women. I’ve employed about 6,000 women in my career and there is only one difference between women and men in the workplace and in life: CONFIDENCE!” Everything in the brand’s line has been formulated to not only give you great skin, but also to make you feel confident and happier with the signature essence blend and sensual textures.
“I was 48 when I launched the business, which coincidentally was also the year that I gave birth to my daughter, Yasmin. A natural pregnancy, following 5 miscarriages. So my advice to any woman facing a catastrophic event like being fired, divorcing or illness, is don’t be afraid to turn that negative into a positive. Pursue your dream, whatever your age. We make footsteps on this planet for all too short a time, make them count…for you!”
3 Merumaya products loved by beauty-savvy fans
Merumaya Youth Preservation Moisturiser SPF 20, £37
Non-gloopy, super hydrating, and packed with skin-fortifying antioxidants, beauty journalist Sali Hughes refers to this as the “runaway victor of the host of SPF/moisturiser hybrids out there”.
Merumaya Gentle Exfoliating Toner, £18.50
Blogger Ruth Crilly, @modelrecommends, reveals she swipes this over her skin to hydrate and calm with the blend of AHAs that gently treat spot-prone and sallow skin to an overhaul.
Merymaya Iconic Youth Serum, £40
Designed to rebuild collagen reserves and drench skin with antioxidants, omega 3, and hyaluronic acid, Vogue dubbed this one of the “top 15 anti-ageing products on the market”.
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