Graduate entrepreneur brings Asian style to UK skincare sector

25 Jul 2016 12:00:00.000

Lili Zhu, a graduate from The University of Nottingham, has brought the latest in innovative Asian skincare treatments to the UK to inject some fun into the cosmetics sector.

Lian Masks are thin bamboo extract serum sheets which are pressed onto the skin and can be cleanly peeled off after use. Very popular in Asia, they can be either used on their own, or in addition to normal skincare routines.

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A gap in the market
Based at The University of Nottingham’s Ingenuity Lab, which nurtures and support for young entrepreneurs, Lili noticed that there was a gap in the UK market for these types of skincare masks when she arrived in the UK.

“I found it very difficult to find anything like the serum masks when I came to the UK from China to study”, said Lili. “I had always wanted to establish my own business, so after doing some research, I decided to set up my own company, Lian Ltd. to specialise in sourcing and supplying the best serum masks from Asia, and providing them to the British market.

"I also want to make beauty treatment more sociable and fun,” added Lili. “I think that sometimes it’s presented as being a very serious thing in the media, and I want to help to change that, and encourage people to embrace their individuality.”

Fun designs
The new serum masks which Lili has imported into the UK through her company come pre-printed with fun designs such as wild animals which she hopes will encourage young people to use the products with their families and friends and not to take themselves too seriously.

Lili’s LianMask business has also received recognition from the University, and she recently won the £5k Asia Business Prize, part of the Ingenuity 16 entrepreneurship competition which was awarded by the University’s Asia Business Centre.

The young founder of Lian used this prize money to expand her small team by bringing in a new business development manager, Smirithi Kalyanraman to help further develop her enterprise and find new opportunities for the company.

Enthusiastic and focused
Speaking about Lili’s business, Steve Chapman, Manager of the Ingenuity Lab at the University’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said: “Lili is a great example of how enthusiastic, focused and hard-working entrepreneurs can turn their ideas into real businesses.

“We work with a diverse mix of talents and nationalities here in the Ingenuity Lab, and establishing international links, as Lili has done, is helping many of our businesses to find new customers, suppliers and ideas. I am sure that Lili has a tremendous future ahead of her as a successful entrepreneur.”

Lili also has high hopes for the future of Lian Serum Masks, she said: “In five years’ time I hope that Lian will have changed the way we see beauty, by bringing fun and excitement into the serious world of cosmetics. I believe that the key to happiness and true beauty is not just what you think about yourself but how you treat other people. With the help of the University’s Ingenuity Lab, and my own family of employees I am very excited and confident that this dream will come true.”

For more details about the Lian Asian Serum Masks, visit


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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. More than  97% of research at The University of Nottingham is recognised internationally and it is 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

For more information about the Lian Asian serum masks, email Lili Zhu, Managing Director, or tel: +44(0)7415977721
Nick King  

Nick King - Marketing and Communications Manager, Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 74 86727 Location: Coates Building, Faculty of Engineering, University Park Nottingham

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