For alumni

Lumi Maunuvaara: Becoming an entrepreneur with the drive of a 20-year-old

Lumi Maunuvaara, who founded HAVU Cosmetics during her second year of studies, learned quickly that being a start-up entrepreneur requires courage, even foolhardiness, but also humility. High interest in ones own field and the company ensures continued motivation even in difficult moments.
Lumi Maunuvaara, HAVU Cosmetics
'In the bachelors degree phase, I selected design as my minor. It has been very useful as well as all other optional art and design courses that I have attended at Aalto. Photo: Aki-Pekka Sinikoski

Lumi Maunuvaara, what do you do?

Im an entrepreneur, founder and CEO of the natural cosmetics company HAVU Cosmetics. I founded the company while studying for a bachelors degree in chemical technology at Aalto University. Im still working on my masters degree in fibre and polymer engineering.

How did you become an entrepreneur and founder of Havu Cosmetics?

I came up with the idea already in upper secondary school as I was already envisioning the first cosmetics products in my mind at that time. I made the prototypes at Aalto Universitys CHEMARTS summer course in 2017, after which the products were on display at the Habitare design fair that same autumn. Back then, I was contacted by the co-founder of HAVU Cosmetics, Tatu Fontell, who said that my idea could have the potential for an enterprise. Soon, I was Googling with enthusiasm what was required for setting up such an undertaking

What have been the highlights of your career? 

Starting a company has been the craziest and most exciting thing of all. When I had just turned 20, I had an enormous drive to take on such a venture. The other “first times” related to business activities have been equally exciting experiences, such as getting the first funding decisions, hiring employees and finding foreign dealers and partners. There must be a whole lot of first times ahead of me as well and Im really looking forward to them.

What are the most essential qualities for a start-up entrepreneur?

Personally, I have a few guidelines I have followed. First of all, you must have courage, even foolhardiness, but also humility in relation to your own competence. Secondly, you have to know how to ask for help and dare to ask for it. Thirdly, you must be extremely enthusiastic about your field and your company, because otherwise, any setbacks during the very first few weeks of operation will thwart your motivation. Now, only a couple of years after having founded my company, I already have stronger confidence in my own competence and  way of doing things.

How has studying at Aalto prepared you for working life? 

Aalto has a lot of entrepreneurship courses, and, to my surprise, even my masters programme includes product development courses that talk about start-up entrepreneurship, and encourage the students to develop innovations. In the bachelors degree phase, I selected design as my minor which has become  very useful, but I also have other optional art and design courses that I have been able to attend at Aalto. The cosmetics sector is not something a chemical technology student would get to know in such contexts as career networking events. You have to find out how to seek your way into the field yourself and dare to do it.

What advice would you give yourself if you started your studies now? 

At the beginning of my studies, I lacked motivation and I stressed about the future. I was terrified that I would end up working in a kind of company or job where I would not be able to show my competence or that my competence would be totally wrong for the field of technology. Besides, only one of my friends studied design as a minor subject and, in the following year, he switched to the architectural line of study. I was simply afraid that I had chosen the wrong education and would not be able to do anything creative and exciting after I had entered working life andI also thought about changing fields. 

Therefore, my advice would be: calm down and trust your own goals and the fact that it is entirely up to you to what kind of work you end up in after your studies. No one else will make any choices for you, but the responsibility is yours alone. This is a fairly liberating idea. After my first year of studies, I set up a company and became newly excited about chemical technology when I saw how much it benefited me in my work. 

What are your expectations for the future? 

Everything new! At the age of 22, I still have quite a lot of life ahead of me, even though I can say that I have already done all kinds of things. In the future, I will certainly have a chance to meet plenty of new opportunities, choices, successes and even failures. Im learning a lot of new things all the time. The future is wonderfully exciting!

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