Cork company’s seaweed-based products can ‘treat eczema, burns and stretch marks’
Ocean Bloom is a newly-launched range of organic skincare developed by west Cork-based aromatherapist, Cheryl Cleminson. The products are based on seaweed harvested from around the Beara Peninsula. The idea for the business came from Cleminson’s success in treating her grandson’s infant eczema with seaweed baths.
“When my second grandson was born in 2013 with baby eczema, my daughter tried all the creams available to no avail,” she says. I also made up oils for his skin but they didn’t help him either. Then one day an elderly lady mentioned the benefits of seaweed and I started collecting small amounts for my grandson’s bath.
“His skin started to heal and he is now three with beautiful skin. Around the same time a young boy in the area received bad burns on his face and I made up a blend of oils and seaweed serum for him. After six months his little face was scar-free. From then on, people started asking me to make creams and oils for them. That’s how Ocean Bloom began.”
Cleminson started researching the healing properties of seaweed in 2013 and describes herself as something of a “seaweed anorak”. She attended a course on seaweed at the BIM training school in Castletownbere and points out that not all seaweed-based products are necessarily as wholesome as they are made out to be.
“During our research we came across producers that were buying in seaweed from around the world which makes it difficult to know the true provenance and to manage the quality,” she says.
“For us, the quality of the seaweed is paramount so we hand harvest from the local pristine waters of Beara. Once harvested the seaweed is washed in filtered rain water and dried very slowly to preserve the cell structure.”
The first of the company’s products went on sale last year and there are now 14 items in the range. The products do not contain parabens, silicones, sulphates, petrochemicals or mineral oils and are gluten free.
They are suitable for normal skin and for all ages and both sexes and can also be used to treat skin problems such as burns, weeping eczema, dermatitis and stretch marks.
Ocean Bloom is a bootstrapped start-up self-financed by Cleminson. So far she has spent about €15,000 in hard cash for equipment and packaging along with countless hours of research and development.
The business has been supported by the west Cork Local Enterprise Office with a priming grant of €7,000 and a €2,500 grant towards website design. Cleminson initially made all the products herself, but as sales are now beginning to grow she has subcontracted some of the blending involved. Everything else is still done by hand.
A key breakthrough for the company has been an order from the duty free shop at Shannon Airport and the products are also in a growing number of Lloyds Pharmacies. The aim now is to get full national distribution before looking towards the United Kingdom for further growth.
In November last year, Cleminson was accepted on to the women in business programme, Exxcel, at Cork Institute of Technology’s Rubicon incubation centre.
“This course was a huge help in terms of getting me focused about how to plan for the future and how to drive the business forward,” Cleminson says.
“I was a complete novice when it came to running a business and one of the hardest parts is having the confidence to get yourself out there and start promoting your product when you’ve never done anything like that before.
“There are so many skincare ranges on the market now that pitch themselves as ‘natural’ yet the ingredients are anything but. This is why Ocean Bloom is truly different and that’s the message I need to get across,” Cleminson says.
Article Source: Irish Times