Who Are You?
Name: Arnaud Marolleau
Occupation: CEO of Taf'eel Design Studio
Time in Malaysia: 19 years
I come from Angers, a little town in western France. I moved to Malaysia about 19 years ago, and the moment I landed, I knew we were about to start a long love story. At that time, I was working for a company called Carita as a makeup artist. I was originally sent here for a three-week contract. I went back to France only to be told that, following the takeover of the company by Shisheido, they were downsizing. I volunteered to leave, and decided to return to Malaysia. Back then, Malaysia was kind of an El Dorado. I then started to work for Dior, and my then-boss, Mandy Tang, sent me to Japan, where I became Make Up Director for Asia. I was 24 and living the dream.
However, the ambiance was not that great. I found it very hard to adjust to the general hypocrisy of the industry. After five years, I decided to leave.
Creating his own company
I came back to Malaysia and created my own make-up agency. After a couple of years, I realised the market was coming to a stall. I joined a cosmetic distribution company owned by another French guy. I worked three months a year, and the rest of the time I was free to do my own stuff. I trained to become a motivation coach, but I still wanted to create a company. I had a stint with P&G until about a year and half ago when I decided to launch my own creative design company. The idea came to me while I was in the shower. The prospects of expansion, cash flow and everything seemed to be orderly and reachable in theory.
People looked at me like I was a nutcase, which I probably was. I had no experience or contacts in the industry, but I insisted that we needed to do it. That’s how Taf'eel Design Studio was born. We now have a team of 12 people, and we are about to open affiliate offices in Australia and Europe.
Besides expanding worldwide, we are opening two more branches here in Kuala Lumpur: Taf'eel Digital, dedicated to web design and Taf'eel Online, providing e-marketing services.
Life in Malaysia
Malaysia is still the land of opportunities. Life is easy here. I live in Ampang, and would not move for anything in the world. I tend to escape from KL as much as I can. My free time is spent visiting museums, but mostly it’s all about meeting friends for drinks and brunches.
I can’t see myself leaving KL. I go back to France about twice a year, and two weeks is the maximum I can handle. There is absolutely no way I would relocate back there. I do the strict minimum in terms of sports to keep fit, but nothing much. However, I am a huge fan of the Islamic Museum. The exhibitions are really good and I visit it every month.