On a mission to redefine the beauty industry
Battling with racism and exclusion, alumna Gisele Azad was eager to work for change when she was accepted for the Master’s in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. During her year at LUSEM, negative experiences was turned into power and creativity through an encouraging atmosphere. With passion for inclusiveness and newfound strength, Gisele turned bad experiences into her own sustainable skincare company: Skøn.
The programme allowed me to develop myself in all ways, academically, professionally but definitely also personally.
Gisele, tell us about what you do today!
I run a company called Skøn. We create natural and vegan skincare products focused on well-being and self-care. Which entails, on a day to day bases I mostly do creative work in a visually as well as strategic sense. What is most important to me is that everything I put out in the world is supportive to society and planet.
What is the main reason you work with what you do?
From a very young age I knew two things for sure: I want to give back and I want to be creative - preferably the combination of the two. I am a refugee from Tehran, Iran. I have seen the struggles my parents have gone through and experienced how society has treated us differently. For me personally, the way I looked is what drove me to get in to the beauty sphere. When I was younger I tried everything to fit in but never succeeded because I didn’t look like my friends. Society showcases an image of what is beautiful and I did not fit in to that image.
For over a decade, I worked closely with refugees. The diverse and talented group of youngsters inspired me to express myself more, no matter what society draws up as ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’. Changing society is a hard thing to do, taking care of ourselves - mind and body is the first step within this ’master plan’. Combining my passion to be creative and fight for a more inclusive world turned in to a skincare company. My mission with Skøn is to work towards a more diverse beauty industry.
Combining my passion to be creative and fight for a more inclusive world turned in to a skincare company.
How did LUSEM prepare you for a career as an entrepreneur?
I am beyond thankful for my masters programme. It has a serious academic curriculum without forgetting the students personalities and personal ambitions. Starting a company is no joke and I got well prepared for the years ahead. When I got accepted to the programme, the pain and trauma of racism and exclusion weighted on my shoulders, but I was on a mission to gain knowledge on starting a strong business. The programme allowed me to develop myself in all ways, academically, professionally but definitely also personally. With gaining knowledge on how to assess my ambitions, the negative thoughts and experiences faded away and power took over. Gaining this power has opened so many doors and opportunities which I couldn’t have done without getting my masters degree.
What advice would you give yourself if you started your studies now?
When looking at business in the traditional sense we look for gaps in the market and ways to make a lot of money. A lot of people forget that running a business is hard work, day in and out, for many years. The ‘gaps’, or the focus on money won’t make you successful. I advice myself and every other entrepreneur to find your power, your ambition and go from there. That is what will make you business stick out and become successful in the end. I work hard to create a safe space where everyone can be and look exactly how they are. I hope Skøn can keep on doing that for many years.
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