Suzie Gillespie, founder of Moo & Yoo, is an inspiring female founder. She is an ambitious businesswoman but believes passionately in being a sustainable and ethical business and will not compromise her values to achieve success.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I love business, the excitement and creativity of being your own boss. I have always loved the hair industry and having had a wedding planning business and a salon which I opened in Edinburgh in 2007, a hair product company was the next step. My daughter Olivia spent her younger years helping in the salon at weekends before doing a business studies degree. After some time working in the corporate world, Olivia was keen to do something entrepreneurial and Moo and Yoo was launched. It’s been fantastic to see the business go from strength to strength. We are now in retailers like Harrods, in exclusive hotels and country house properties, in salons and online.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Whilst working as a hair stylist and salon owner, I became frustrated that many of the salon products I was using were harsh and irritated my skin. I also became increasingly exasperated that plastic containers were the norm in the hair industry and knew that despite my best efforts, most would never actually be recycled.
In the absence of anything suitable being available in the UK, I decided to create our own solution, bringing gentle and natural products in fully recyclable glass packaging to UK salons and customers. Olivia was keen to be involved and before long the whole family had joined in the journey and Moo & Yoo was born.
How did you achieve awareness?
We were so lucky to team up early on with a fantastic PR company, Christina Moore PR, and got some great exposure in publications like Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Forbes and many more. We were also fortunate to get approached early on by online site Plastic Freedom with their large eco customer base helping us to gain loyal and committed customers early on. We have always been keen to partner with companies who share our values and this has definitely helped us grow strongly in the sustainable luxury sector. Harrods approached us in 2021 and our partnership with them has increased brand awareness hugely.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
The business is still family owned and funded by the family. Our next stage of growth however will see us looking to gain investment as we look to expand overseas.
What are the key successes?
There have been many successes and the exciting thing is that we know there are still many to come. Harrods was an unreal moment for us, to be stocked by one of the most iconic and luxurious stores in the world was a real ‘pinch me’ moment.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Our lab went into liquidation in the first six months of business which was a huge learning curve for us and a very stressful time! Covid was a challenge but luckily we were small enough to adapt and pivot away from salons to online retailers and direct online sales which actually rocketed during this period. The main thing about challenges is to learn from them and move forward.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We have some new products launching this year and some exciting partnerships with retailers, salons and hotels also happening soon. Sustainability is always at the core of what we do and we are excited to see that hotels are finally moving away from throw away plastic mini toiletries and our embracing our sustainable refillable solutions.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I would encourage anyone with an idea and a dream to do it, there is never the perfect time so you just have to take a leap and go for it. I would advise though that you make sure it is something you have a passion for! It will consume your life so you have to love what are doing.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Make sure you do something that you have a passion for and that makes you happy. It is true that you love what you do when you do what you love.
Stay true to your values. For us sustainability is at the core of our brand and every decision is made with that at the forefront.
Listen to your customers and respond to what they need.
Don’t be a perfectionist and don’t be afraid to fail. Being an entrepreneur is a learning curve and you will make mistakes, you just need to learn from them and move on.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Coco Chanel. Such an inspiring story that after such a difficult start in life (she was sent to an orphanage age 12) she achieved so much in what was then a male dominated world. She never stopped pushing boundaries and grew an incredible and iconic empire. She was the trailblazer for female entrepreneurship showing how far women can go with hard work and determination.
Stella McCartney inspires us as she has shown it is possible to create sustainable and beautiful luxury clothes without damaging the planet. We love that she is a committed animal rights campaigner and is leading the way when it comes to pushing for a more sustainable fashion industry.
Emily Weiss created a beauty start up for millennials and in just five years the company, Glossier, was valued over a billion dollars and she did all this by her mid 30’s!
Natalie Massenet. She has such a vision and is a pioneer in online high-end luxury fashion after creating Net-a-porter. She revolutionised luxury retail which had not previously been available on an ecommerce store.
Ben Francis. With a humble background he has built gymshark to be one of the biggest fitness brands in the industry with a huge celebrity following. What is inspiring is his digital reach and his understanding of how to use social media to grow a brand.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.” —Estee Lauder
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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