Harlotte Yau, founder of skincare brand Muihood, which has roots in traditional Chinese medicine, is delighted to be a Gold Winner of this year’s AXA Startup Angel competition, organized by AXA Business Insurance in partnership with the Evening Standard. “It has given us a tremendous head start, not only financially but also in guiding us on how to grow the business,” she says.
Charlotte, 27, who lives in south-east London, was inspired to explore her Chinese heritage because of rising discrimination against Asian communities around the world as the pandemic spread in 2020. “Reading about what happened to our community made me think about why I neglected that part of my identity,” she says. “It was an exploration of ‘How do I celebrate being Chinese and Chinese culture?'”
She recalls feeling frustrated when she saw traditional Chinese medicine used in skincare being branded a fad in the West, which is reflected in every beauty company that launches a jade roller. “The narrative of traditional Chinese medicine was watered down on TikTok into just a trend, while not many people knew it was a 3,000-year-old medical system that can have massive skin and health benefits,” she explains.
“I wanted to create a brand that celebrates Traditional Chinese Medicine in skincare that feels authentic and real as it’s more than just a TikTok trend.”
How Gold Price Will Help Your Business
Charlotte is “still beaming” at winning one of the two grand prizes in this year’s competition, held at the five-star South Place hotel in the heart of the city.
“I’m proud,” she says. “This business is essentially an extension of who I am. And it’s amazing to hear people’s enthusiasm and belief in the brand.”
Muihood launched its first product, a cleansing balm, in October 2021 and the AXA Startup Angel award will allow Charlotte to fund the second product as well as all key clinical studies. “It’s amazing that we can now pay for these clinical trials because it helps our new little brand put our customers at ease. We can make bolder claims about what’s so helpful in skincare.”
It also allows Muihood to pay a little more for testing on a wide range of skin types, which is an integral part of its identity as a brand that encourages diversity. “Our mission has always been to make traditional Chinese medicine accessible and educational for everyone.”
Check out the gold winners at the South Place Hotel
Mentoring by the AXA Startup Angels
With the first few years of a new business being the most difficult financially, Charlotte says AXA Startup Angel’s £25,000 gold prize is a “huge impact to get the business off the ground”. She adds, “I can prioritize the business and take it where I want to take it.”
Expert mentoring from AXA Startup Angels – Sharmadean Reid MBE (Founder and CEO of The Stack World), Raphael Sofoluke (CEO and Founder of UK Black Business Week and UK Black Business Show) and Ian Theasby and Henry Firth (Co-Founder of BOSH !) – Charlotte is particularly looking forward to that. “They’re all great,” she says. “Each and every one of them has such individual, amazing perspectives on the business.”
Running a small business is hard work. Visit AXA’s Business Guardian Angel for useful blogs, in-depth guides and practical advice. Easy!