Dragons' Den gives Caraderm the chance for expansion
A successful pitch on RTE's Dragons' Den and an increasing awareness of the health benefits of seaweed has prompted a Co Antrim company to open its first retail outlet.
Seaweed skincare products by Caraderm Skincare in Ballycastle are now on sale at the Rathlin Island Ferry terminal building as well as in pharmacies and online.
Developed by former bricklayer and pizza delivery man Liam McBride, the original Caraderm Serum went on sale in 2012 with funding from Invest NI.
Last year, Mr McBride appeared on RTÉ's Dragons' Den and the product caught the imagination of Londonderry-born entrepreneur Peter Casey, who is now based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Straight away the dragon was 'in' - and Mr McBride said Mr Casey's financial input and business experience had enabled him to increase the number of products and production.
The main ingredient in the Caraderm range is carrageen moss - a seaweed which grows along the Atlantic coast.
Mr McBride said: "Carrageen moss is well known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and is rich in nourishing vitamins and minerals.
"A few years ago, I had a bad throat and a friend of my mother gave me a carrageen moss drink which helped soothe and clear it up. I was so impressed I started researching its other benefits.
"The essential vitamins in the moss can help reduce wrinkles, soothe irritation and treat conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and burns, so I used a traditional seaweed recipe and developed a seaweed serum for the skin.
"I trialled it locally and the response was very encouraging and I began a small production operation."
After starting with a skin serum three years ago, the Caraderm range has expanded to include shampoo and body wash, bath soak, seaweed bath pouch, shaving foam - and the latest product is an aftershave balm. Mr McBride said: "I was born and raised in Ballycastle and I've always wanted to find a way to live and work locally off the shore. It's taken a while, but I've finally got there."