1. How did the idea for your business first come about?
I’ve always had an inquisitive and entrepreneurial spirit so for me imagining solutions to customer problems and creating business models around them is kind of like a hobby. MUD was a solution to a problem my business partner, Caitlin and I identified a few years ago - how might we find ‘balance’ by doing something good for our bodies (like detoxing) fun and enjoyable?
I had a great job at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week but was definitely burning the candle at both ends. I was putting in the hours in the office and partying all weekend with no real down time. I am naturally a really energetic (aka highly strung) person so for me taking the time to rest and relax felt unproductive and a waste of time. Fast forward a few years and I wound up with adrenal fatigue and major digestive issues: lactose malabsorption, gluten sensitivity and some kind of suspect overgrowth in my gut, no doubt the result of far too many desk lunches and Friday night espresso martinis. So Caitlin and I started playing around with the idea of an experiential detox which helps remove toxins while slowing down the mind. After turning my kitchen into a Breaking Bad lab we created the perfect combination for a DIY MUD bath. Eight weeks of bootstrapping everything could, we launched our business MUD (aka My Ultimate Detox).
2. When did you have a ‘f*ck-it moment’ and decide you were going to go all in and start your business
About three years ago, we both realised we weren’t creatively stimulated at our jobs at the time. We wound up bored and would just message each other random inspo stories and business articles all the time. One day we just said “f*ck it” let’s do something together and decided to meet up at my house with ten different business ideas each. As a twist of fate, we both had the same idea on each of our lists. At that moment, we knew we had to do something about it, and started work straight away.
We never really had to take a leap of faith though– we planned every step with two key objectives: constant customer feedback loops and speed to market. Customer validation has been critical for us when it comes to things like ingredients, labelling and price point, and speed to market is also really important because we live by the fail fast, fail cheap mentality. If it doesn’t work out we can swiftly pivot without losing time and money.
When we launched we made sales straight away - our first sale was a complete stranger so we knew we were on to a winner (we were sure our Mum’s would be our first customers). It was the validation we needed to keep going with our idea.
These two strategies are still core to our business today. We test everything with our target market and gather feedback on all aspects of our products before we launch. Then we send prototypes of new products to our retailers and distributors to see if they will place orders before we actually start manufacturing. Because we are still small we can bang out a new product in a few weeks.
3. What were some major challenges you had when starting your business? And how did you overcome them?
Every day we faced new challenges however both Caitlin and I love the process of building new businesses, which was the reason why we have kept going for over 3 years now! We studied a Bachelor of Business Entrepreneurship at RMIT so we have the skills to overcome a lot of the traditional hurdles people face in business. For us, the manufacturing was challenging having had a limited amount of experience in beauty product creation.
We overcame challenges just by asking people for help - we asked suppliers, other businesses, our mentors and when all else failed we hired experts like lawyers, label regulators, graphic designers etc. Our lean mentality meant that we would do pretty much everything ourselves until breaking point and then bring in the experts. When we launched our Edible MUD product we had some real challenges with sourcing the product from the mines, packing it and labelling it. What we thought would take about eight weeks took over a year! It was Caitlin’s persistence that got us there in the end so definitely having a super talented business partner helps!
3. What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
There have been a few, definitely receiving an email from the beauty buyer at Urban Outfitters asking if they can stock us was an incredible "pinch me" moment. I actually thought it was spam at first until I searched LinkedIn and realised that this person was legit! Then when we actually launched in their online store that was an incredibly proud moment, followed by a mix bag of shock and victory dance when we sold out within 24 hours.
Another pinch me moment was when our university lecturer asked us to come back to RMIT to do a guest lecture and share our story with the students. We love speaking to people about our journey and hopefully inspiring them to get out there and do their own thing, best of all I love to hear what other people are working on and what problems they are trying to solve.
4. Starting a business can be gruelling -what keeps you motivated, and keeps you going?
It is particularly hard running your own business while also working full time. Currently I work for a global consulting firm, so balancing my fast paced corporate job with my business is really challenging. For me, I love being creative and I love being busy so juggling a corporate role and my own business is the perfect scenario. My corporate job is really stimulating as I work in innovation and disruptive technologies and then my business is like this huge creative outlet where I can just let my imagination run wild. The two roles are very complimentary and the skills I learn from each are completely interchangeable which is awesome. At the end of the day I always bring it back to why does the business exist beyond making money? For Caitlin and I we are just really passionate about wellness, and we want everyone to know that when it comes to health it isn’t always black and white, so we created MUD to help people find balance.
5. What do you do to create a work-life balance?
I don’t really balance work and life because my work is such a huge part of my life so I am totally fine with it being all consuming, just as long as I have time for my relationships and my health. I always schedule in time with my fiancé Jesse to just hang out and connect and I have a non-negotiable fitness and diet regime (like I said, I’m highly strung). I kind of have an all or nothing nature so when I am really into something I go hard. At the moment I am training for a 100kg deadlift! I guess for me my focus is still trying to slow down and rest, so I still have my regular MUD treatments, couch time and I try to meditate every day.