Tell us about how you ended up where you are today?
I started out my working life pretty young as my Dad who passed away 21 years ago, was an Entrepreneur. He had a Print and design business at home and we often were roped in to put magazines or other print jobs together. I grew up with a strong work ethic and always worked very hard at every job I did. I always wanted to be best when it came to a job, not so much with education though. My first time in college was in University College Dublin where I had a ball and made lifelong friends who 20 years later are still my best! I have a degree in English and Linguistics but never went further with it. When I finished university, I lived in Toronto for a year and there I began to experience a new way of living. Even though I enjoyed a party lifestyle, I got interested in Yoga, Health and fitness and food. I managed to somehow strike a balance between it all, I think we call it burning the candle at both ends. I also got my first supervisory Restaurant job in Toronto. When I returned to Dublin a year later, I began working in a new funky healthy fast food restaurant called NUDE owned by Bono’s brother Norman Hewson. I worked there for 4 years and opened a further 4 restaurants with them. In 2003 I left and went back to college to study Holistic health full time. During this time I qualified in 5 different massage modalities as well as Reflexology, Chinese Medicine, Exercise, fitness, Yoga and Meditation. While I studied I worked in a Health Store and learned the ropes of the industry I was to market my products into 11 years later. (Little did I know). In 2005 my daughter was born. For the next 3 years I worked part time as a Therapist and Part time in a health Food Store but gave it all up in 2008 to start my own business. I opened a Holistic Health and Wellbeing Centre in Gorey, Co. Wexford.
In 2010 due to the recession, I down sized what was a big centre with 12 therapists and 25 classes a week to 2 smaller clinics that I ran by myself. It is during my time as a Therapist I was inspired to create Holos Skincare. I saw how blends of essential oils helped make people feel a little better so I began to sell the blended Massage oils to my clients. These were later to form the Holos Body Oil range and were the building blocks for our facial care because of the amazing benefits essential oils have on the skin. I have been really lucky to have strong support around me both personally and in the business world. After 9 months in business, Holos skincare won its first award , the Bank of Ireland Home/craft startup of the year award. We’ve gone on to win 5 health and beauty industry awards since, enjoyed lots of TV exposure on Ireland AM, Xpose and more. 2016 has been an exhilarating year so far with Holos being selected on our first attempt for the Enterprise Ireland Female Competitive start Fund which is €50000 investment in Holos. A month later I succeeded in being the first investment of the season on RTE’s Dragons Den winning a further €50000 investment from Eleanor McEvoy, Founder and CEO of Budget Energy. Just this past weekend, Holos launched in Northern Ireland at Professional Beauty Belfast.
Is there a typical day and if so what might that look like?
There’s never a typical day. It’s always crazy. I get up between 6.30 and 7am to get a little quiet time on my own if I‘m not travelling to the far reaches of Ireland or to the UK. I’ll have a healthy breakfast, check in with Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook and make Bella’s lunch. If I’m in the office I’ll go there and I could be doing anything from sales to marketing and PR to fixing whatever problem may have arisen that day. If I’m out of the office I could be anywhere in Ireland either doing a sales call, an in store promotion or training new stockists and therapists to use and sell Holos Skincare. Sometimes I stay away overnight and others I come home, depending on my schedule for the next day. I can regularly work til late and try to schedule in a run or a class when I can. At the moment there aren’t too many days off but I love it. When I am off, I love to be outside in the fresh air with Paul and Bella, my partner and my daughter. During the madness of the day , I manage to eat good healthy food which is really really important if you are busy. It’s my one rule, Healthy nutritious food.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
The pure thrill when another terrifying opportunity comes my way and I take it and it works out. Nothing beats the excitement of doing something new to help push the business forward and seeing it come to fruition. I am constantly amazed at the things that happen on the journey. I could never get that from working for someone else as I never had that much control to take the risks I take in my own business.
Have you any advice for someone wanting to get into the Beauty industry?
Just do it! I came into the beauty industry from the health industry. I was totally green so my advice is to get out there and talk, tell everyone who’ll listen what you are doing. Network, be strong on social media and form relationships with the influencers you love and respect in your sector because the nice ones will be more than willing to help you spread the work. It’s not good enough to have a great product, people need to know about it so the more people you can get talking about it the better.
You’re in charge of the Irish economy for the day. What would you change to help business in Ireland?
I’ve been really lucky to tick all the boxes when it comes to business support from the state. Holos has been a candidate for funding from the beginning because we manufacture, export and create employment. Unfortunately the same supports are not available to service based industries and I think this needs to be changed. With the world getting smaller through technology, individuals and companies offering services are now able to do business with individuals and groups anywhere in the world. This however doesn’t seem to be viewed in the same way as a product that is manufactured here is. It isn’t seen as an export. I would extend more supports to service based industries if they can demonstrate how they can export that service.
There has been a huge debacle in the Republic of Ireland about the Internship scheme Jobsbridge. It was created to help people get back into the workforce by working for a company and learning new skills. Unfortunately, companies took advantage of it and it has ceased and put under review. However the scheme worked incredibly well for Holos and we now fully employ the intern we took on for 9 months. I’ve seen it work very well for startups where the startup needed to employ someone but wasn’t in the position to pay them. Once they have an intern in place, they are then in a position to grow the business and eventually pay the employee and because it is a new business the intern learns the business from the start so is gaining experience and is in at the beginning of a business so in a great position to have one of the top roles in the company as it grows. I would set up a system whereby the startup has to put forward a business plan to their Local Enterprise office demonstrating how they would take on an Intern, how they will train them and eventually employ them. Potential interns apply to the LEO with what skills and businesses they would like to be part of and the company and Interns get matched up. If the system was limited to startups who had to put forward a detailed plan and reach milestones, the system would be less inclined to be exploited and interns would be learning actual new skills instead of making the tea.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I’d hire a PA and book a holiday to Richard Branson’s Necker Island. Imagine! I’d rejuvenate and come back to work but the first thing I’d do on my first day back would be book another holiday. I’d never give up working but I would certainly stop doing the things that waste my time and get in the way of growing the business, things like spending 3 hours sorting a missing package that the courier has managed to lose and not tell us about.
Favourite Restaurant? Avenue by Nick Murnier, Crow St. Dublin
Drink? Red wine but Prosecco on special occasions
Holiday Destination? Necker Island
3 famous dinner party guests? Richard Branson, Angelina Jolie and Jim Carey
Describe yourself in 3 words. Driven, quirky and hard-working
Main image: Naimh picture (left) with Dragons Den Investor Eleanor McEvoy, Founder and CEO of Budget Energy. Photo Credit – Ruth Medjiber (Ruthless Imagery)
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