Meet Emma—she joined the MUSQ team a few years after the brand was launched after trying the products and falling in love with them. She now works as the director of the company and is super passionate about creating meaningful, cruelty-free beauty products.
Tell us about MUSQ and your role there.
MUSQ began in Melbourne in 2007 and I joined the team some years later after trying the range and realising that I wanted to be part of it. In 2013 I took over the business solely and have continued to build on its foundation of providing an Australian range of beauty products that are simple and effective with a conscientious side and that carve a niche for luxurious yet sustainable products.
MUSQ was actually my first job in the beauty industry—my skincare obsession got very legit, very fast! When I took over as director, the first thing I did was rebrand the entire range. We kept the bones of the brand, staying true to the beautiful, high-quality ingredient formulas, but changed just about everything else! Since the rebrand, we have been working hard to stay on top of the growth since. Seven years on and after learning many lessons, we are about to rebrand yet again, staying fresh and on the creative pulse is what keeps us contemporary and aligned with the latest technologies and ingredients. Stay tuned for our exciting new range!
Why is it important to you that your brand is cruelty-free and vegan?
We as a society have certainly levelled up! It really is amazing how much of an increase in demand there is for natural, eco-friendly products that are vegan and don’t test on animals. As consumers are becoming more educated on the products they use and how they’ve been made, they won’t settle for cruelty or cheap, synthetic products.
MUSQ is 100% vegan, so it takes the guesswork out. When you learn that the mainstream beauty industry uses ingredients like stearic acid from a pig’s stomach or cochineal from crushed insects, it’s an eye opener. We can be beautiful without creating suffering. It’s cool to be kind, and we are 100% kind.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
I have had some real wins! I’ve loved seeing MUSQ on the pages of some of the biggest magazines in the world and when people and celebrities I’ve never met say that they are in love with a MUSQ product. The business has really come into its own, sticking to values that are close to my heart. But I guess the most meaningful moments are when friends or customers share that they feel happier within themselves or that they have fallen in love with their skin—it’s that freedom in their voice that gets me right in the feels.
What are the challenges of running your own business? Would you do anything differently if you could go back in time?
There are a lot of challenges! Anyone who runs their own business will tell you that the going does get tough sometimes. The main challenge is flying solo. I was lucky that a mentor approached me and he really has helped me level up. If I had my time over, I would’ve sought out a mentor right after I finalised the transaction of the business. To say that my mentor Shane has been a saviour would be an understatement. To have that person to reach out to who wants to see you succeed and has been through what you’re going through and can help you navigate the business world with their wealth of knowledge—it’s invaluable. Mentors are also fantastic for opening doors and introducing you to people in your industry who may help you grow your business. Flying solo in a business is a definite challenge; if you want a successful business, you need a mentor.
What advice would you give to aspiring brand owners? What questions would someone ask themselves before they start their own business?
Get to know yourself. Take some time to really get a feel for your strengths and weaknesses. There are so many different elements in bringing a brand to life—surround yourself with people who are more qualified than you in different areas. The word ‘delegate’ will become the sexiest word in your vocabulary!
There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before launching your own business. The most helpful, honest question to ask yourself is, ‘am I starting this business because I’m obsessed with the vision? Or is it an on-trend motivation?’. Essentially, you have to really believe in the vision and know that you are going to last the distance. If you don’t love it, leave it!
What areas of your business will you never delegate?
The big decisions! I’ll never delegate the decisions that essentially steer the brand’s direction. At the end of the day, it’s my business and my name on the line, so I’ll always have the final say when it comes to any important decisions. On a less serious note, I’ll never delegate the opportunity for some face-to-face time with customers—that’s my fave!
What’s the most common misconception about pursuing a career in product development?
This is an easy one—nothing about the glamorous life is effortless! The messy bun in that Instagram photo you liked probably took two hours. The seemingly effortless dewy, fresh-faced look is the result of years of hard work formularising the right ingredients in a product range. A lot of people say that I’m a natural when they congratulate me on the success of MUSQ, but it doesn’t just come naturally—it comes from hard work. I love where MUSQ is at, the product launches, the amazing people I get to connect with, the parties and shoots—for all the hard work, it does make for a good life.
Visit the MUSQ website to learn more about the brand and check out their amazing products.