The Inside Story: Haweya Ismail – Student to Entrepreneur

Haweya Ismail founded Mud & Musk in 2016 and it brings together two of her passions – a love for natural skincare and a commitment to support environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. She completed an accelerator program at Curtin University to develop Mud and Musk and last year won a pitching competition hosted by BSchool.

Can you give us an overview of your business?

Mud & Musk is an online platform for DIY skincare. It can be difficult to find good recipes online and it’s easy to get deterred and by the cost needed just to try out recipes. I started it in 2016 and wanted to ensure that DIY skincare can be accessible, affordable and ethical. Our website allows people to customize recipes online and purchase pre-measured ingredients in smaller quantities. Our first customizable kit is the HARGEISA DIY kit.

The key ingredient is Qasil, from Somaliland my country of origin. It is a leaf that grows from scrub that goes into powder form when dried. Somali women have been using it for years. We hope to make more organic ingredients like Qasil that people may not have heard of available on our platform.

What is the vision for your business?

We want to be able to make DIY skincare more easy to incorporate into daily skincare regimes. And to be a central hub that allows people want to take control of their skincare and be confident that the ingredients they choose are sourced sustainably and ethically.

Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?

When I was accepted into the Curtin Accelerate Program, and my idea was validated, supported with a grant and mentored. The ten week program helped me go from the idea stage to prototype and at that point it went from an idea to something people were willing to support me with.

What do you think was the biggest mistake you have made so far?

Soon after I received the grant I wanted to have the whole platform ready before launch. I wasted a lot of time and money trying to get that ready. My advice is to start small and grow. I had high expectations and wanted it to be ready at a certain time.

What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?

Seeking mentorship, applying for programs helped to get to this stage.

Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?

Start small, be persistent, set goals, expect things to go wrong as they always do. Take failures as lesson and keep going.

Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?

Elon Musk as he wanted to create meaningful impact through entrepreneurship and is driven by concerns about the planet.

How have you personally measured your success? Last year I had lots of obstacles and it would have been easiest to give up but I learnt to just keep going and overcome the obstacles. I feel like when I’ve overcome challenges even if small, I have succeeded. Also, I’ve begun this journey with the hope of creating a positive social impact, when I know the communities I’m trying to help are happy with what I’m trying to achieve and support it that’s also a success to me.

When you think of your journey, what is the thing you are most proud of?

Being more confident with my idea. I would feel very anxious at the thought of networking or sharing my idea. Pitching and speaking more confidently is something I’m really proud of. It was really out of my comfort zone but I have got a lot better at doing it.

What is your favourite thing to do in your downtime?

Downtime is really important to me as naturally I’m an introvert. Being outdoors, hanging out with friends, going to the observatory and volunteering there, just getting away from everything.

Haweya Ismail and Mud & Musk was recently featured on Today Tonight

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