Mumpreneur: Suzie O’Neil, founder Ayu


Ayu is an Irish make-up company set up by renowned make-up artist Suzie O’Neill in 2015.

She chats to Pregnancy and Parenting Magazine about her brand and her success to date.

Suzie O’Neill, from Co. Kildare, was working as a make-up and beauty tutor and realised the make-up brushes in the kits given to students at the college were extremely poor quality.

After some research, Ayu was born and the business has grown from strength to strength since.

Starting with a range of affordable, premium quality brushes back in 2015, the brand offering has expanded to include Eye Shadow Palettes, Concealers, Radiance Cream, Easy-to-use brow pencils, Blush and Bronzer palettes and many new and innovative products in the pipeline.

Ayu Make Up is dedicated to empowering women with the tools and knowledge to bring out the best version of themselves.

What was your inspiration/ motivation to start Ayu?

I was teaching beauty and make up in a college and due to tight budgets the quality of the tools and products the students had to use was quite poor.

I am a big believer that tools make a massive difference so I decided to try and source my own.

I couldn’t find any I was really happy with so I started designing my own line then.

It was initially meant for just my students but when they got them they started asking me for them for friends and family and I saw an opportunity to take it further and make great brushes and cosmetics affordable for everyone!

How did you pick the name Ayu?

The word AYU means beauty in Balinese.

I have a personal connection to Bali and wanted the name to have meaning to me.

I felt it was really fitting as my ethos has always been to enhance your natural beauty. I love it.

Can you describe the brand in one sentence?

AYU is dedicated to empowering women with the tools and knowledge to bring out their best selves.

What makes Ayu so different from the hundreds of Make-up brands on the market currently?

We listen very carefully to our customers and have a personal connection with them.

Every year we speak to thousands of women through our nationwide classes and social platforms and we strive to answer all their beauty and cosmetic questions.

We want to educate women, not just sell to them.

I believe that sales will come as long as you are honest and give your best advice to each and every person who gets in touch.

Our brand is also trendless so we create classic, core products that will bring you everywhere rather than churning out hundreds of products just to keep up with a current trend.

I believe our personal touch is what has set us apart and is the key to our success to date.

 What is your number one beauty rule that you live by?

Less is more!

What help and guidance did you receive when starting out?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs so they were a huge help in the beginning and quite often act as a sounding board for my ideas!

I also took part in Going for Growth, a course that helps female entrepreneurs.

My mentor was Oonagh O’Hagan of Meaghers Pharmacy and she is just an incredible person. Truly motivating and inspiring.

What advice would you give to other mumpreneur’s to get their ideas up and running?

I would say you need to believe in yourself 110% and become an eternal optimist!

When I started out it was a hard slog to get things moving and I had two kids under 2 with no childcare which meant I was always tired but I had such a belief that I could make women’s lives easier and better, that it kept me moving forward.

There will always be bumps in the road but as long as you have a clear vision that will keep you motivated to keep doing what you’re doing!

What are the challenges of being a working parent?

I do suffer with Mom guilt when things are really busy but I think every working parent gets that.

I am lucky that I can work my own hours which means that when things are a bit quieter, I can finish early and be there to pick the kids up from school and do homework etc.

For the first few years that I was in business I worked 7 days a week.. now I work 5-6 days but I do try and take weekends off when I can as my husband works every weekend which means with the kids sports, logistics can be a nightmare!

I’m learning to balance home and work life so I can go to all the matches and competitions!

What is your favourite thing about running your own business?

I love that no two days are the same.

I get bored easily so love that my job allows me to be creative, travel and meet so many great women.

I love seeing something that was in my head come to life and hear how much people love it.

More than anything I love the feedback I get from women about how much more confident they feel now that they have found our products and that they are easy to use. It is amazing!

Where do you see Ayu in 5 years’ time?

We are currently based online only but I would like to see us have our own space in retail whether that be a concession within a department store or our own place but I want to have somewhere for our customers to visit us in person and get the full AYU experience.

I also want to keep expanding the line – Foundation, mascara and lip products are all on my list! Watch this space!

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