Crowdfunding site imposes last-minute ban on Malmo Startup

Co-founders of SKØN, Gisele Azad and Antonia Antonia Mühlbauer

writer icon Kay Lagercrantz     Tam Thi Le Cao   |   Startups     🕐 13. Nov. 2018

Malmo-based startup SKØN has developed a cosmetic product that is both natural and sustainable. Prior to its launch, the company has been working on a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, which was due to open today.

At the very last minute, Kickstarter decided that the campaign went against their rules, and it was subsequently banned.

Hard work wasted?
The co-founders, Gisele Azad and Antonia Mühlbauer, explained that they had been working on this Kickstarter campaign for a considerable time. They went to great efforts, shooting a professional campaign video and designing the perfect launch for their product.

After graduating from Lund University in June, Azad and Mühlbauer set to work on their business idea right away, funded by a scholarship. They spent three months developing cosmetic products that use natural ingredients and are manufactured in a sustainable way.

During this time, they found out that cannabis seed oil has numerous benefits for the skin. Following this discovery, they decided to use the oil as a core ingredient in all of their products.

Controversial ingredients
It is this ingredient that has caused their issues with Kickstarter. Despite the fact that cannabis seed oil is harmless and has none of the effects associated with the psychoactive drug also extracted from a cannabis plant, Kickstarter is against the product.

“We have spoken to a lawyer and investigated on all regulations surrounding our product”
, Azad said. She clarified that there is nothing illegal about SKØN's products. “The only controversy is the actual word - cannabis”, she remarked. This is a mystifying decision from Kickstarter, who have several other cannabis-related campaigns currently on their website.

Disappointing blow
It was a frustrating turn of events for the duo, who, with their products, are trying to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. Their first product is a tinted moisturiser, with versions available for all genders and skin types.

“We were always aware that cannabis is a controversial word”
, Azad admitted, acknowledging that it suggests less than positive associations for some of the general public. However, she is adamantly clear - “We never promote the use of drugs.”

Not afraid of debate
Azad and Mühlbauer do not wish to shy away from the controversy. They explained that they actually sort of like that detail. “We feel like we are two women that have to fit in a certain norm”, Azad reflected.

She went on to explain how, in this day and age, people should be able to do whatever they can to make the world a better place. “And that is exactly what we are trying to do with our cannabis cosmetics”, she said.

Azad and Mühlbauer originally chose Kickstarter as the platform from which to launch their crowdfunding campaign, as they believed the crowd would understand their concept and its innovation. They were hopeful that the diversity, boldness and creativity of their cosmetics would be recognised, but such was not the case.

“We see Kickstarter differently to how we did before and are saddened and furious about the fact that this had to happen last minute”
, Azad revealed.

Campaign still going ahead
Not to be deterred, the co-founders have moved their campaign over to rival crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. It has gone live today, and they are celebrating the product launch. “We won’t let one hurdle stop us”, they declared.

As of yet, Kickstarter have not responded to the request for a comment.

It has been a challenging journey for the female founders. “We aren't making our lives easier by doing what we're doing. We are fighting against the outdated norms in society but also in the beauty industry”, Azad observed. She continued - “but this fight also makes us more motivated to actually strive for a different and more open-minded world.”

SKØN’s target audience is young, progressive and looking for natural and sustainable products. “We see that they are excited to have a cosmetic product that is actually healthy and beneficial for one's skin”, Azad said. She mentioned how they also became aware that men actually really appreciate the fact that there is finally a makeup product specifically designed for them. 

"Our message is self-care and the celebration of diversity and natural beauty", Azad concluded.

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