Perth entrepreneur Haweya Ismail wins $20,000 to take her DIY skin care brand Mud and Musk to the next level

Mud and Musk founder Haweya Ismail

A Perth entrepreneur working to launch DIY skin care brand that will contribute funds to prevent exploitation and promote sustainability around the world has scored $20,000 to take her business to the next level.

Mud and Musk founder Haweya Ismail won the intense pitching competition hosted by BSchool, which cut through more than 150 initial applicants to reach its five finalists.

“I was the most nervous one out of the five,” Ismail told Smart Company.

Before a heavyweight judging panel including the likes of RedBalloon founder Naomi Simson and Deloitte Digital founder Peter Williams, Ismael shared the story of her small business: a venture inspired by a documentary she watched on exploitation through the frankincense trade in northern Somalia.

Wanting to figure out a way to contribute to a more sustainable world, Ismail began working on the idea.

“I wanted to start this a couple of years ago,” she says.

“It started as an idea for a social enterprise.”

Before entering the BSchool pitch competition, Ismail completed an accelerator program at Curtin University to develop Mud and Musk.

“That really helped me the most because you have access to all the expertise and mentoring to get through that early stage,” she says.

When she first had the idea entering the highly saturated cosmetics market seemed almost impossible but Ismail says the course helped her build her business model, revenue generation streams and marketing strategy.

“It helped me develop my idea and fill in all the gaps,” she says.

The heart of Mud and Musk

At the core of Mud and Musk’s model is sustainability.

The business will launch its first pack later this year, offering consumers the chance to create skin care products with organic ingredients sourced through environmentally friendly ways.

“We have one prototype at the moment but we want to expand the product,” Ismail says.

With every pack Mud and Musk rolls out, Ismail plans to feature powerful natural ingredients from different regions around the world, starting with Somali’s super cleanser Qasil.

This year Mud and Musk consumers will get to try their DIY products through a subscription model but once the business is at a stage where it can hold ingredients in stock, consumers will be able to customise packs and order them on-demand.

“The vision is to make it easier to incorporate organic DIY skin care [into daily life] so everyone can know what they’re putting on their skin and it’s easy to use,” Ismail says.

With the $20,000 cash injection, Ismail has leaped into getting her cosmetic business fully certified so it’s ready to hit market.

She’ll also be dedicating some of the funds to expanding the Mud and Mask range and on Simson’s advice, Ismail looks forward to seeing her products available through RedBalloon in the future.

The documentary that sparked this journey for Ismail remains close to her heart and she hopes to one day also support sustainability in the frankincense industry.

Looking back, Ismail says one of the most important lessons she has learned was to pivot when needed.

“You can’t just fall in love with your original idea and try to make it work,” she says.

“[Don’t] give up when you feel overwhelmed with the amount of things you have to learn.”


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George Naumovski
6 years ago

It starts from an idea and that idea can come from anywhere, anything you see or
read or hear about; then it is what you do with that idea as in how to make it into a business and so if you have an idea, put it out there to see what it can attract and what you can create.

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