Shauna Gallagher's beauty is truly natural
Belfast Telegraph business award |winner Shauna Gallagher reveals her inspiration. Jamie McDowell reports
While most business start-ups are born through a desire to earn money, 23-year-old Fermanagh woman Shauna Gallagher's venture, Nature's Inspiration, was created out of a desire to find a skincare range to suit her own delicate skin.
Recently, Shauna was awarded the Belfast Telegraph Young Businessperson of the Year sponsored by Bibby Financial Services at the Belfast Telegraph Awards at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast.
The sharp and determined young Irvinestown woman explains why she formed her successful and unique business in the first place.
“It was three years ago in December when I first set up Nature's Inspiration in my home town of Irvinestown,” she says.
“I'd previously studied beauty therapy. I began to study it because I've always suffered from having very sensitive skin, and even baby products made me come up in a rash. I thought doing a course in beauty therapy would help me find something — a magic cure — that I'd finally be able to use on my skin.
“I have a very strict cleansing, toning and moisturising routine, and I use a facial mask once a week and do a facial scrub once every two weeks, so it was important for me to find something that suited my skin.”
She adds: “People always recommended stuff to me, but it never seemed to work. I used lots of products that described themselves as organic and natural, but I later found out that they only have to contain 2ml per 100ml of natural products in order to label themselves as ‘natural’. There's little legal legislation that can stop them doing otherwise.”
No matter how hard Shauna searched however, she couldn't find a cream that was suitable for her skin — even if it meant breaking the bank to do so. She says: “I was buying creams that cost around £30-£40 per pot at one stage, hoping that they'd work. I always hoped that there'd be this fabulous product out there that would work for me so that I could moisturise and cleanse my skin without having some kind of reaction.”
There was nowhere left to look for Shauna. But where most people would decide to accept the reality, she decided to take matters into her own hands by travelling to London to learn how to make cosmetics and make-up.
“I eventually went to London where I did a natural product development training course and I began to design my own products,” explains Shauna.
“Of course, the person I was designing them for was myself, so my initial product were made to suit my own skin, but I was able to use my mum, Alice, and my two younger sisters, Edel (17), and Maeve (14) to act as human guinea pigs for me...”
She adds: “It was just down to trial and error at the start, using nothing but natural products, such as extracted oils from plants, fruit, vegetables and flowers to create my products, and nothing went horribly wrong during testing.
“I use a lot of essential oils, which are great because you only need a small amount for them to have big effect on your skin.”
Three years, 13 skincare items, 59 different types of make-up, including blusher, bronzer, foundation and eye shadow and her own baby range later, Shauna's business is doing well, but above all, she's finally found products that work without reacting with her skin.
“My make-up comes in powder form and is made from zinc oxide, iron oxide, titanium dioxide and mica,” she says.
“I've made 23 different shades of foundation so far, which is a good selection, as shops normally stock much less in terms of selection.
“In addition to my range of eye shadow, I've devised a new colour called Pretty ‘n’ Pink, and £1 from every one sold goes to the Pretty ‘n’ Pink breast cancer charity.”
Working from home, Shauna also provides facial treatments for her growing army of customers, and she's been getting good feedback.
As Nature's Inspiration continues to branch out, with stocks in health shops in Belfast, Newry, Clabby and Omagh in Tyrone among others now stocking Nature's Inspiration goods, Shauna explains why she decided to add a range of baby moisturising balm, a toning floral mist and a massage oil to her already impressive array of products.
“Last April, four of my cousins heard the news that they were going to have a baby all around the same time, so I began to work on a range of baby products to add to what I already make,” she says.
“Babies obviously have very sensitive skin, so it went hand in hand with what I was already doing. I looked into it and found that there was a gap in the market and it's been selling really well ever since. The mums have even been using it.”
On her award, Shauna says: “I was absolutely chuffed when I got the call to say that I was in the running for the Belfast Telegraph Young Businessperson of the Year Award.
“I was so happy to have made it as a finalist, but when I won I was over the moon because the competition was so tough.
“My family were all really proud of me and have been really supportive of me throughout.”
For more information on Nature’s Inspiration visit www.naturesinspiration.co.uk