A desire to engage other young women inspired Amira Geneid to launch her beauty start-up Zahara. Lily Ong gets to know the woman behind the digital enterprise.

 It’s 9 in the morning and Amira Geneid is half-reclined in her chair while our team of stylists are at work. This young woman has her hands full at the moment, organising her upcoming wedding and managing the day-to-day demands of her flourishing beauty start-up Zahara, and she’s glad to leave the glamming up to the experts.

With her eyes closed, one may think she has dozed off. On the contrary, she is mentally tackling the endless list of to-do items she has on her plate. “My fiancé Cam is always quick to remind me about a certain quote by former US military general Creighton Abrams: ‘When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time,’ ” she says in a gentle, ladylike tone that I have become accustomed to after hours of conversation with her.

Compared to her other six siblings, the second youngest daughter of Dato’ Robert Geneid and Datuk Raziah Mahmud-Geneid has always been introverted by nature. She inherited this trait from her father, with whom she shares a tight bond. Being brave and eager to experience new things, she is also one of her father’s favourite companions for his outdoor-related adventures such as hiking and going on forest trails.

“Since I was six years old, my dad would take me on drives through his developing projects and explain about them to me. He never talked down but instead patiently taught me what I needed to know when I asked questions. He made me believe that I could achieve anything in the world,” says Amira.


That being said, reserved and brainy Amira is still her mother’s daughter on the inside. Once Amira is drawn out of her shell, she is as funny, mischievous and quick-witted as her bon vivant mum—albeit in a more self-depreciating manner. I was fortunate enough to witness this other side of her personality occasionally when she is around her fiancé Cameron Priest and her family members.

My mother showed me how strong a woman can be. There’s no such thing as a man’s or a woman’s world. It’s your world and how you take charge of it. She is fierce and kind, a beautiful juxtaposition I hope to emulate one day. I’m so lucky to have parents who have set such lofty goals for me and showed me that you can be successful if you work hard. They are my inspiration,” she adds.

Her childhood was spent in the sleepy town of Kuching, followed by years of independence cultivated from her time at boarding school, in Kambala Girls School in Sydney, Australia. After that, Amira pursued a business administration degree with a focus on management and techno-entrepreneurship from the National University of Singapore.

The world of e-commerce was a natural path to take for her, whose entrepreneurship dreams crystallised during her internship at Golden Gate Ventures, a venture capital firm in Singapore. By the time she graduated from university, she knew she wanted to engage and communicate with ambitious women like herself from all over the world. “I thought to myself, what better way to do so than going into the beauty business?”

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Photography: Tian Xing; Creative Direction: Allan Casal

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