What would it mean to you if creating skincare products could be more than just a hobby? Knowing that the passion you have could combine with skills and practical knowledge to allow you to share it with the world. Would it make your heart sing to be able to do something really successfully?
If you knew you had the skills to stand on your own two feet… what would you do with those skills?
Many of our students come to us with some amount of product creation under their belts, looking to expand their expertise and develop their products. They come to us with different dreams and goals, but all of them come to us because they love what they’re doing so much, they just have to share it. They take such pride in their creative work, and they’re ready to take the next steps to make their dreams a reality.
What does success mean to you?
In going through the Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation coursework, each of our students gets the chance to define what success means for them. For some, the goal is to create the very best, most distinctive and effective products that nobody else is offering. For others, it’s to heal and treat a challenging skin problem area. Maybe your vision is to see your branded products on shelves in the stores you admire. Or your vision is to source ethical, sustainable, and effective ingredients to create skincare products that heal a little bit of the world, too.
We each have goals and dreams. What are yours?
And what could that be like, if your vision of success could become your reality?
For those of you who dream of having your own product line, your own business, what would it be like to be your own boss? In addition to creating and selling products, would you want to reinvest your skills as a teacher, work in contract manufacturing for others, become a consultant or run workshops? What is it that you value, and how might you develop that into the career you desire?
If this sounds exciting to you, we’d love to introduce you to someone who has done exactly that. Geraldine Quinlan, of Clann Botanicals.
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Geraldine Quinlan: Clann Botanicals
Geraldine Quinlan is a student of ours who has done some amazing work, not only in the products she creates, but in the way she’s chosen to develop her business and branch out into so many other areas. We had a chance to sit down with her and chat about her experience, her goals, and the advice she’d give to those just beginning on the journey.
For Geraldine, there were a lot of things coming together in terms of making natural skincare products before she ever thought about it as a business. She’d worked for several years in the charity sector, and had wanted a change of scenery. After moving to the coast of Ireland, she found that many of the people in her area were small business owners. After meeting with a woman who was making her own skincare products, Geraldine got to thinking that perhaps she could do that as well.
Well, I always would have bought my skincare in a health food shop, thinking it was natural… but I started to realize actually that it’s not as natural as I think it is. I had never met anyone who was making their own skincare before, I just thought, “This is absolutely amazing.” That sort of got me thinking, and then when she left the country I just thought, “Well, what am I gonna do now?” So, I just started looking online.
Like many people who start finding recipes online, Geraldine’s initial attempts didn’t turn out great, but she wasn’t deterred. She wanted to learn more, and spent several weeks in her own kitchen, trying to figure out how to make the perfect body butter. The final recipe is one she still uses to this day, but she knew then that if she wanted to really pursue this, she had to find a better way than taking weeks to figure out each product.
Geraldine decided to further her skills in product development. Because of what she’d learned, she was able to create products that were custom-crafted for the needs of people in her life. Both her sister, who had been going through cancer treatments which made her skin painfully sensitive, and her nephew, who had struggled with stress-related breakouts, found that Geraldine’s products were soothing and effective, without being irritating.
It was these successes, and the encouragement of her sister, which persuaded Geraldine to truly consider making a business of the hobby she loved so much.
Geraldine’s products soon became known as the go-to treatment for frustrating and painful conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Her business, Clann Botanicals, was named after the Irish word for family, and she centered her family story—being able to help her sister and her nephew—within the heart of her business.
I enjoyed selling the personal touch… because I don’t really feel like I’m selling, I stand behind what I do, people are always amazed as well that I actually make them.
As her business grew, Geraldine began offering workshops and classes to those who were interested in learning more about natural skincare formulation. Although her initial vision for her business was simply to provide the best natural products to help these skincare issues, her business’ values were centered around nurturing and developing her own community. After a local paper picked up her story, she ran one initial class, and the demand afterwards made her consider running them regularly.
When it comes to workshops, they’re so enthusiastic, they’re so happy to be there. It was just great to do something that brought so much joy to people… they arrive in knowing nothing, and then they come away with four products that they learned to make, and it’s really empowering.
She initially began offering classes out of her own house, where she also had her workspace, but soon moved into a larger space for both of those needs. The classes, she reports, sell out every month.
Running the classes truly combined her passions and her experience; it brought together her background in community and group work with her new passion and skincare business. Geraldine found that it became very complimentary, running the classes and selling the products. “It’s about wanting to be generous with my knowledge,” Geraldine said. Her most recent avenues for sharing knowledge have been Facebook livestreams of product creation as well as showing her facial cleanses using her new favorite ingredient: Honey.
When Geraldine began creating her first products, she didn’t necessarily anticipate her business growing in all of these wonderful ways. And to hear her tell it, the business side of things still isn’t her favorite part of what she does.
I think I found when I started looking at the retail side of things, it was so much about margins and about all the business things that are obviously important, and they’re not my values, you know, I found myself going down a road that’s not me, it’s what I thought I should be doing, or something like that.
The process hasn’t always been easy, and the road hasn’t always been smooth; a recent health challenge caused her to reevaluate what her brand’s goals and vision truly were, and whether she had the energy to continue on the way she’d been going, trying to do it all. Currently, she sells her products via markets, events, word-of-mouth, Facebook, and the occasional Etsy purchase. At the start, her vision was to get her products into more shops than just the one, but she decided not to grow that side of her business, instead focusing on teaching and keeping her batches small and local.
For those just starting out on the journey, Geraldine offers some advice:
I would say learn how to formulate, know what you’re doing, and do your research in terms of being able to formulate creams. Have your niche, even if that might change, but it’s such a competitive market, I don’t think it’s enough to say, “I’m a natural product.” Because everybody’s saying that, even the ones that aren’t natural, and so I think have a niche in that.
In my experience, it’s going to take a lot longer than you think it will to grow your business, so have patience with that, and that’s okay.
And get help, because we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Have a mentor, someone who’s ahead of you, who will give you some good advice.
She also highlighted what she felt was her number one tip for selling a successful product: Being very clear and specific about the problem that your product is meant to solve. Just coming out with a natural product isn’t always enough to meet a customer’s needs.
It’s about having your messaging clear as well. I mean, there are lots of things that are key, but if you know why you’re making a product, then you know what type of ingredients you want to put in that product. Otherwise, you’re just looking at all the masses of amazing ingredients to put into a product.
In Geraldine’s case, all of her products contain two ingredients: Calendula oil, which she makes herself, and a local seaweed, which is still harvested by hand. Not only are those two ingredients wonderful for sensitive, irritated skin, they connect her to the land, and to the community that she serves.
Where can you go from here?
Geraldine’s story, and the story of Clann Botanicals, is a wonderful example of how much bigger a hobby can become when it grows out of the soil of your own personal values. When you are able to tap into those core values, then the rest of your business follows. Ultimately, we’re always most successful when we’re true to ourselves, and we stick to our own values and what’s important and what we enjoy. Following that inner truth means creating a more meaningful success, because you’re doing it your way.
Developing a skincare business isn’t just about making products, researching ingredients, and trying out different formulations. It can be about sharing knowledge and educating others on the topic. It can be about networking through social media, connecting through a website, standing on your own two feet in a store or at a marketplace.
If you are driven to create beautiful products which really change lives, or if you want to be able to customize products to create things you can’t find anywhere else, or if you just want to do something creative, meaningful, and passion-driven, you can find a way there. Our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation has helped countless others level up their skincare skills and begin to take the first steps towards crafting a business that is uniquely their own. We’ve worked with students who hate being stuck in an office, or want more time with their family, or just feel driven to define success on their own terms.
To learn more, head on over to the information page for the Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation today.
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