As a Southern Californian native, I was fortunate to grow up in a region of unrivalled nature and breath-taking scenery. It also exposed me to another type of beauty – the multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry.
Throughout my younger years and early career in wealth management with global banking giants Morgan Stanley and UBS, the idea of bridging these two worlds quietly grew into a passion.
Having looked more deeply into the beauty industry, I became increasingly frustrated to see so many mainstream brands still using known toxins and carcinogens in their products.
With the market for alternative ‘clean beauty’ products growing 9% year on year, I could see there was clearly growing consumer demand for more transparency and accountability in the sector.
During my MBA at University of Edinburgh Business School, I began to realise the value of having a community of peers to help you get where you want to go. That’s how ideas come to life – you can’t build a company all by yourself, you need a support network.
With both thoughts running through my mind, I saw a unique opportunity to create a network and community for clean beauty businesses.
Given the fragmented nature of the sector, I could also see there was a need to provide these small, independent brands with a virtual hub to collectively amplify and support them for doing the right thing.
And so, the idea of The Clean Hub – the world’s first dedicated business accelerator for clean beauty brands – began to take shape.
Now open for applications to the first intake in January 2018, The Clean Hub’s accelerator programme provides budding entrepreneurs a central platform to grow.
From branding and intellectual property to product development and regulatory issues, we give them the practical insights they need to build their businesses. As well as the chance to pitch directly to a prominent UK retailer.
In addition to being taught by professors at the top of their game, an integral part of the Edinburgh MBA was the opportunity to learn from carefully selected practitioners, each leading experts in their respective fields.
It’s an idea I’ve drawn on as the concept for The Clean Hub has evolved too. Tapping into my network and drawing on the support of my MBA classmates, one of my key priorities is to consistently provide our accelerator brands with the highest level of real-world expertise and insight.
Whether it’s on brand development, finance or exporting for the first time, the mentoring our network of experts can provide will allow their business ideas to come to life.
It hasn’t been an easy journey and there have been plenty of highs and lows along the way. But my passion for helping these brands has really driven me to keep going, every success I have had has given me that extra bit of encouragement to push a bit further.
And University of Edinburgh Business School has continued to support me beyond graduation, most notably helping me secure a 12-month UK Graduate Entrepreneur visa to get the business up and running, with the potential to extend.
We still have a huge amount of work to do. But I’m confident, with the support of my own network, I can develop a new clean beauty ecosystem, which will help other entrepreneurs realise their own business ambitions too.
Raquel Wing is founder and Managing Director of The Clean Hub, and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh Business School MBA 2016. An original version of this blog appeared on the Association of MBAs.
Image courtesy of Raquel Wing