We are back with Michelle Hua, public speaker, writer, Founder & CEO of Made With Glove Ltd, a UK wearable tech start-up designing fashionable heated gloves for women based in Manchester. She is also the co-founder of WoW UK Women of Wearables, an organisation that supports, inspires and connects women in wearables, the IoT and AR/VR spaces.
In 2014 Michelle led Made with Glove to being in the Top 150 Most Influential Brands in Wearable Tech and in 2015, received the highly commended blogger award at the UK Blog Awards in London. In 2016, Michelle was the recipient of the UK TechNation Exceptional Talent Visa for her significant entrepreneurial contributions in the digital technology sector and her work in promoting, mentoring and supporting Women in Tech.
Michelle worked as a commercial solicitor in private practicing-house use and the Western Australian Government in Australia and New Zealand for 8 years prior to starting her wearable technology company. Michelle holds Bachelor degrees in Commerce (Curtin University) and Laws (Murdoch University) from Perth, Western Australia.
How does your day start and how does it finish?
I start quite early check emails, social media that happens overnight and go swimming.
During the course of the day, checking emails, reading and writing articles, forming partnerships, having meetings, applying for funding, running workshops, speaking engagements, touching base with Marija about Women of Wearables’ updates and news.
The day ends with reflecting what I have done and a list for the next day!
You launched in 2014 is that correct? What has been the hardest challenge you have had to overcome?
I launched my wearable technology company, Made With Glove in 2014 after resigning from my job as a property solicitor. Because of these challenges, I co-founded Women of Wearables (WoW) with Marija Butkovic because she understood the same challenges. The aim of WoW is to inspire, connect and support women in wearable tech, IOT, AR, and VR. My role is the WoW Manchester Ambassador and I deliver wearable tech workshops to girls, women and university students all over the UK.
Some of the hardest challenges I had to face was that of generating income whilst developing my product, forming my network in the wearable tech industry and finding more women in tech and wearable tech because I noticed it was male dominated.
How did you know there was a market for your product?
For Made With Glove, my own challenge of suffering from cold hands during a walking tour in Prague in -21 degrees led me to design fashionable heated gloves for women.
The first step was to do a google search to search all my competitors to see what was out in the market.I purchased a handful of heated gloves and tested them.
I then researched potential customers and spoke to them in the form of face to face, online questionnaires, market research surveys and targeted specific groups and spoke to them about what they use. I also did some database market research with the help of business students.
Reading articles, attending conferences and constantly looking at what is trending and what companies are investing in gave me some great insight and allowed me to find a gap in the market which I could fulfil.
For WoW, I knew there was a market for it because I had been in the industry for 2 years. Being such a new industry it was difficult to navigate who was who. I found a mentor early on and she really helped connect with the key players in the industry. The more I spoke to my industry colleagues, and the more conferences I attended in the UK and globally, the more I realized there was a gap for WoW.
What is on the horizon for 2017, are you planning to expand? Where do you see Women of Wearables?
For Made With Glove, my aim is to focus on product development and building the right team with the right skills to achieve our goals. Seek funding and partners to help me develop the product.
For WoW, we have built a community of WoW women by interviewing them and we have over 6000 members in our community. We have WoW Ambassadors in Berlin and me in Manchester. Marija aims to increase the reach to a more global level. The support has been overwhelming and Marija is doing a fantastic job leading the organisation.
How will you manage expansion and business growth?
For Made With Glove, it’s very difficult because it’s all about balancing what you have, what you want to have and what you want to achieve in a given amount of time with the limited amount of resources. Employing staff and building the right team is my biggest priority. This is because it is important for my team to understand my goals for the business so we can achieve them together. My policy when I build my team is that all employees must be a STEM Ambassador. A STEM Ambassador uses their enthusiasm and commitment to encourage young people to enjoy STEM subjects. They open the doors to a world of opportunities and possibilities which come from pursuing STEM subjects and careers. This is because Made With Glove and WoW is all about inspiring women and to be role models for the next generation.
How much market research did you go into the industry prior to launching?
Made With Glove is still in product development.
Industry research involves going to a lot of conferences not only in the UK but around the world, reading articles, meeting the key players in the industry, sharing knowledge, connecting industry peers to one another and learning about the different products in the market and the new products coming out.
While researching the industry, it is important that the digital world can be just as effective as the physical world. Social media has enabled me to connect with key industry players from around the world.
The tech industry is typically male dominated, how do you stand your ground to have your voice?
Writing and publishing blogs as well as speaking at conferences and running business, innovation and wearable tech workshops allows me to share my knowledge about the trends in the industry and teach those who want to learn about wearable tech.
In 2015, only one year after starting Made With Glove, I led it to be listed as one of the Top 150 Most Influential Brands in Wearable Tech. I write articles for my own website and I also write articles on other related websites to ensure my voice is heard across all platforms.
Being interviewed by journalists and industry colleagues helps with the visibility Made With Glove and WoW. Publishing articles on my LinkedIn profile are something I’ve just started doing and it is proving quite popular.Being interviewed by journalists and industry colleagues helps with the visibility Made With Glove and WoW.Being interviewed by journalists and industry colleagues helps with the visibility Made With Glove and WoW.Being interviewed by journalists and industry colleagues helps with the visibility Made With Glove and WoW. Publishing articles on my LinkedIn profile are something I’ve just started doing and it is proving quite popular.
It is through our own tried and tested methods that we can help our WoW community to support women in wearable tech, IOT and AR/VR to stand their ground, provide visibility and to be heard.
What 3 staple pieces of advice do you have for other women in tech about overcoming barriers faced in business?
1.Be persistent! It is so easy to be struck by the imposter syndrome however, the best person who knows about your business and your industry are you.
2.Find support from different people and a mentor that you can trust and rely on.
3.Learn to say no. If it doesn’t fit within your goals for your business, then the answer should be no.
Twitter: @MadeWithGlove @Women_Wearables
Instagram: @MadeWithGlove @Women_Wearables