Suzie Gillespie and Olivia Gillespie are a mother-daughter duo based in Edinburgh Scotland. Suzie has always been entrepreneurial having previously owned a wedding planning business and a hair salon, Moo & Yoo was the next adventure. Olivia has grown up watching her mum and dad both being self-employed and was inspired to follow in their footsteps for herself one day. As a family they are passionate about preserving the natural beauty on this planet and sustainability is a huge passion that kickstarted their business journey.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Moo & Yoo was created initially as a salon haircare brand called ‘Moo Hair’. The company started with a range of seven haircare products and very quicky gained a lot of attention. We had been focusing on hair care and selling through salons, however as covid-19 began to emerge we quickly transitioned to selling through online retailers. Luckily, this paid off and we started rapidly expanding. We then decided to create some body care products due to a high demand and these products proved to be very popular too. As we now were not solely a hair care brand, it no longer made sense as a company to be called ‘Moo Hair’ so we re-branded as ‘Moo & Yoo’.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Whilst working as a hair stylist and salon owner, Moo & Yoo co-founder Suzie became frustrated that many of the salon products she was using were harsh and irritated her skin. She also became increasingly exasperated that plastic containers were the norm in the hair industry and knew that despite her best efforts, most would never actually be recycled. Whilst there were some good eco-friendly options out there, all came from overseas and the carbon impact negated any benefits. In the absence of anything suitable being available in the UK, Suzie and her daughter Olivia joined forces and decided to create their own solution, bringing gentle and natural products in fully recyclable glass bottles and jars to UK salons and customers.
How did you achieve awareness?
We focused on what we wanted people to feel when looking at our brand. We wanted our brand to reflect our values so started by creating a strong brand identity through simple and clean brand design focusing on sustainability. Our core values soon started to translate into everything we did, choosing to partner with companies that share our values and spread awareness of Moo & Yoo by reaching the customers of these businesses like ours.
We had a low budget so turned to digital marketing and did this ourselves through both organic social media posts and targeted ads. We wanted our content again to reflect who we are and what we stand for. We then started adding additional digital marketing methods. We worked with a PR company to help grow our brand awareness across print and more traditional media methods and gaining more coverage in established media publication companies such as Forbes, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We are a family business and very much wanted to keep it as this so have not accepted any external investments. To initially launch both co-founders invested into the business. Our growth has so far been self-funded by our growing sales. We will continue to do this for as long as it works however are open to external finance in the future.
What are the key successes?
Our first key success was the first salon we ever stocked our products in, was surreal to see our products in a physical shop. We then moved on to our first major online retailer, and are now stocked by Harrods online and in the Edinburgh store. All felt like huge milestones and we can’t wait to see what’s next.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
We had our biggest challenge to date very early on into launching the business. In our first 6 months, our first lab who produced our products went into liquidation. This caused huge worry and stress, all of our supplies and products were on the property so it was scary not knowing if we were going to lose everything. It was a learning curve and luckily we managed to resolve and move lab without loosing any money invested or stock.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We want to transition and shift to more of a lifestyle brand, proving self-care can be sustainable with great quality products. We would like to continue to grow, create some new products and expand into more luxury retailers. We want sustainability to be more accessible and show consumers that you don’t need to sacrifice and stop using beauty products, we just have to be more conscious with our consumer habits.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Starting a business is all consuming and can be lonely, so make sure you love what you are doing and your business is something you have a passion for. Being able to do what you love every day, reaching milestones and experiencing the highs of owning a business is extremely rewarding.
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Recognise what your strengths and weaknesses are. You won’t be the best at everything, so find people who are good at what you lack in and utilise their skills. People are your biggest asset and can help you enormously.
Ensure everything you do reflects your businesses vision and core values. Everything should be adding value and helping you get closer to your goal, so try not get distracted as time is valuable. If an activity is not going to ultimately help your business get to where it needs to be, do not waste your time.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- Natalie Massenet (founder of net-a-porter)- Natalie inspires us as she saw a brochure in a bank on how to start a business, then without hesitation on a whim she started her first website to sell high end luxury designer wear online. Taking that chance and always believing in her dream/goals is very inspiring.
- Jo Malone – Her story of starting at her kitchen table mixing scents to running a global perfume business is so inspiring. It just shows that starting is the main thing, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the fancy equipment. Again, she is another strong female who led the way and created something quite unique.
- Holly Tucker (Not on The High Street Founder)- Holly Tucker has built a lot of businesses, but we find her venture with Not On The High Street the most inspiring as she was one of the first to give small independent businesses a platform to compete with large retailers. Not only is she incredibly successful in her own right, but she is helping lift-up and empower other business owners which we find really inspiring.
- Krissy Cela (founder of Oner Active & co-founder of Tone and Sculpt app)- Krissy has turned her passion her health & wellness and used this to create multiple businesses to inspire and help others on their journey. She has struggled in her life however her persistence and determination is inspiring, it has resulted in her businesses being more of a lifestyle.
- Steven Bartlett – Steven went from being starving, stealing food to being one of the most successful people in the UK and being involved with multiple successful businesses. He never let his current situation hold him back, he believed in himself and his abilities and didn’t take no for an answer. His resilience, determination and self-belief is inspiring.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
The biggest mistake you can make in life is thinking you have time.
Time is free, but it is priceless.
You can’t own it, but you can use it.
You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.
And once it’s lost you can never get it back. Use it wisely.
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
Moo & Yoo @mooandyoo