Marie Louise Uhrskov Mikkelsen is founder and CEO of Uhrskov Studio. She is currently is a multimedia designer and is currently studying Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCN. Besides Marie Louise, Uhrskov Studip also counts two other people:
– Helle Jakobsen, CPO, who oversees the product development with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from AAU with primary interests being sustainability and packaging design. She is now attending the master’s program in industrial design at AAU.
– Jonas Gemmer, CFO, aka The Money Man. There is no business without money, and Jonas is our resident financial connoisseur while he is studying business economics at AAU.
Uhrskov Studio is a beauty company, where we are currently developing new packaging for beauty and personal care products, that are more accessible to people with mobility issues and visual impairments.
To put it plainly, the idea is to disrupt the beauty industry. Currently, the industry doesn’t consider all the people who may live with some sort of disadvantage – this being mobility issues, visual impairments, or other forms of disabilities. The industry also has a habit of thinking everyone looks the same, or at least they put people of great (objective) beauty on a pedestal.
We want to change the way the industry works and thinks by having our notions of inclusivity, accessibility, social and environmental sustainability permeate our business’ DNA.
Since I started as a makeup artist, I fantasised about having my own cosmetics and skincare brand someday – we’re talking since around 2015. However, I never knew quite what to do, or whether I had the guts to follow through on my ideas.
Then 2018 comes along with some major changes regarding my physical health, leading to chronic pain and inability to walk circa summer of 2019. This led to a whole other way of viewing the world and how inaccessible it is to people with any kind of disabilities. I began noticing loads of areas in which there was massive room for improvement regarding accessibility. Circling back to my prior occupation in the makeup and skincare industry, these improvements could also be made in that regard – and that is how the idea of Uhrskov Studio came into being. Along with some great timing and the opportunity to take part in UCN’s Next Step program, all that was left was to take a leap of faith and “just do it”.
The network! Most definitely. I love doing all the work that being an entrepreneur entails, but the entrepreneurial environment, especially here in Aalborg, has been nothing short of amazing. The amount of support and inspiration has been overwhelming, and it has been the people in the entrepreneurial environment that have made it such a joy to keep going.
Creating the Uhrskov Studio team. I started on my own, with loads of support from my personal network and everyone at UCN Next Step. But it was challenging doing everything on my own, and I was very aware that I needed a team. The Startup Dating event was heaven-sent concerning that. It was through this partnership between Aalborg University and UCN, that I found my two awesome co-founders, Helle and Jonas. I feel we are a very balanced team, and I know we’ll go very far with this project of ours.
“It was challenging doing everything on my own, and I was very aware that I needed a team. The Startup Dating event was heaven-sent concerning that’’
A lot of what I do within the startup is building our network and get in touch with the right people to help us move forward, and other than that, I might be a bit more of a “Jack of all trades” and trying to tie ends together. I usually refer to myself as a person who has approximate knowledge of many things (as stolen from Adventure Time). Having the unique perspective, I possess as dealing with disabilities myself (however mild they may be compared to many others), I utilise this knowledge and my lived experience to guide our process.
Academically I use my skills in UX/UI – trying to understand our potential users better as well as doing a lot of research. Finding the right source material is my jam. Additionally, I’ve utilised a lot of tools taught at Multimedia Design regarding breaking down the process of making a product. This includes task lists, time, and project management.
Having personal health issues that constantly require attention and dedication, keeping up with studies can sometimes be a challenge in and of itself. There have been multiple personal setbacks (for me) that have forced me to deprioritise Uhrskov Studio and put it somewhat on the backburner over the summer. But it will prove interesting to see how we manage to balance it all in the future – both individually and as a group of co-founders.
Our startup is still in the very early stages, so for the future, we will prioritise going back to basics. We are taking a step back from developing prototypes and will in the future focus more on our business strategy, market and user evaluation as well as strengthening the bond and contracts within the team.
To prioritise your mental and physical health above all. When first starting a business, most deadlines are “imaginary” – they’ve been created by you, and you can usually easily push them back (or forward) to what suits your life best.
I’d say it is also important to play to your own strengths, be it personal or professional. Once you know your strengths and pitfalls it’s easier to build a team around that, who can complement and support you – if your team is balanced, you’re more likely to succeed.