Cork skin care firm looks to US

Tapping funding, Schull firm Modern Botany is planning a prosperous new year, writes Trish Dromey

Aiming to sell 1,000 gift boxes by the end of the month and to ship its first order to a US chain store for the new year, West Cork natural skincare company Modern Botany is having a busy Christmas.

John Murray and Dr Simon Jackson, the co-founders of Modern Botany.

Two years ago the Schull-based company launched on the market with a unisex multi-purpose body oil, selling online and to pharmacies and health shops.

This year it added a natural deodorant and increased the number of outlets it sells into to 250.

In 2019, it plans to conclude a €400,000 funding round which will enable it to expand its product range and develop exports to the UK and Germany.

By the end of next year, it aims to raise a further €1.1m to fund expansion into markets in the US and Asia.

Modern Botany was jointly founded by John Murray and Simon Jackson, a pharmacognosist, who previously set up skincare company Dr Jackson’s Natural Products in the UK.

Setting up Modern Botany to target the natural skincare market in early 2016, they decided that “West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way’’ was the perfect location for the venture and for the brand they wanted to create.

According to Mr Murray, natural skincare products is growing by 10% per annum and is the fastest growing segment in the global skincare market.

Securing feasibility funding from the West Cork Local Enterprise Office, the founders set up the company at their farm in Schull at the start of 2016 and later moved it to an office on Main St.

Using their own funding, they found a contract manufacturer in Mayo to produce their first product, a multi-tasking body oil which retails at €35 for a 60ml bottle.

In 2016 we got a listing with Lloyds chemists — starting with 50 of their outlets and now we are in 90. We are also selling to lifestyle stores, pharmacies, and healthfood stores around the country,’’ said Mr Murray.

Sales on the website are mainly to customers in the UK and now account for 50% of turnover.

The launch of Modern Botany’s second product, a natural deodorant, in May this year led to the company’s first export order, from Content Beauty, a premium natural cosmetics store in London.

Mr Murray said that, in recent weeks, the company has received its first order to supply a US chain, Detox Market which has nine stores and will start stocking Modern Botany’s deodorant in January.

“In order to supply distributors in UK and Germany we need to increase our product range. Our plan is to have 12 pieces by the end of the year and to launch five of these in March,’’ said Mr Murray, explaining that these will be unisex natural care products including washes and skin creams.

Started with the founders’ own money, Modern Botany secured €50,000 in so-called Competitive Start funding in early 2017 from Enterprise Ireland and has since become a High Potential Start-Up client.

The €400,000 funding round which is now being concluded will include €150,000 in Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up funding and €250,000 in private investment and will be used for the production and commercialistion of new products, which have already been formulated.

Mr Murray expects to close the round in January, saying he has already started discussions with some larger investors about the €1.1m funding round planned for later in the year.

The company currently employs a staff of six, including the two founders, as well as a PR manager and office staff.

By the end of next year, Mr Murray expects staff numbers to grow to 12, at which stage he expects the company to have a high lecel of exports and a turnover of €500,000.

Long term, the aim is to gain global recognition for Modern Botany as a 100% natural skincare brand.

Mr Murray said that in the future he would like to bring the manufacture of the products to Schull and also to partner with universities to carry out research on Modern Botany products in order to demonstrate their therapeutic effects.

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