Tan-tastic accolade for Co Antrim firm that bronzes the stars
From a small Co Antrim town to exporting to 20 countries worldwide – self-tanning company Vita Liberata has just been awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise in International Trade.
The multi-million pound turnover company founded by chief executive Alyson Hogg now joins previous Northern Ireland winners of the coveted royal seal of commendation, such as Glen Dimplex.
As part of the independent judging process, Vita Liberata was commended for its outstanding overseas sales growth of over 400% between 2011 and 2013, against the background of tripling its headcount and opening operations in the United States.
The luxury cosmetics brand has proved popular with celebrities such Hollywood actresses Sofia Vergara and Gwyneth Paltrow, British popstars Ellie Goulding and Alexandra Burke, and was the preferred tan for X Factor finalists from 2009-12.
Speaking from San Franciso, where she and husband Colin Lewis were on a business trip, she said: "This is brilliant for me and our staff, which numbers about 50 now.
"I put my success down to my father Dr Fred Hogg who provided me with my first bit of funding and never gave up on me."
Founded in 2003, the brand prides itself on its organic products which produces odourless, long-lasting and natural-looking tanning without exposure to the sun.
The brand made its debut on the QVC consumer channel at the weekend and sold out its stock at an amazing rate of $34,000 a minute. Despite selling to an increasingly worldwide audience, it still bases its headquarters in Ballyclare.
Vita Liberata now sells to leading beauty retailer partners in the world, including Sephora Europe and USA, QVC USA, benefit Cosmetics, and exclusive spa partners such as the seven-star Burj Al Arab in Dubai, Waldorf Astoria, Peninsula, Setai, Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton Groups.
The 51-year-old former television broadcaster added: "We have been fortunate to partner with some of the strongest retailers in our sector, who recognise both the amazing quality of our products, and the ability of our team to deliver on our joint goals."
Vita Liberata established operations in North America in 2013, from where it expanded on its success to the US, providing more than 30% of the group's overseas sales.