Small Business Column: Edward McCloskey, CEO of Waterwipes.

In this week’s Q&A Kehlan talks with Edward McCloskey, CEO of Waterwipes. Waterwipes, a chemical-free baby wipe, is currently being promoted across Ireland and the CEO talks about what it takes to build the brand.

So what are Waterwipes and how did all begin?

Waterwipes are made by Irish Breeze Ltd, a company I started about 20 years ago. In the beginning we made cotton wool and soap products and Waterwipes is another skincare product but very different to anything on the market or in the world.

It is the only baby wipe used without any chemicals ingredients at all. We make it using 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. One of my daughters, when she was small, had pretty bad nappy rash.

So we started investigating it and took her to the doctor etc. So one day I actually picked up a packet of baby wipes to see what was in them and was surprised to find products in it that weren’t good for skin.

Good for cleaning, but not for skin. So we stopped using those wipes and the rash cleared up straight away. From there the idea grew to what we have today.

So you have grown and grown, is world domination on the cards?

Well our objective is not to be in the maximum amount of countries worldwide. That kind of thinking is more a vanity metric than anything else.

We’re more interested in choosing the right country and becoming a significant player within that market.

Of course our base market is Ireland, because that’s where we started. However places like Australia and New Zealand are starting to gain good traction for us.

However the objective is not to be in dozens of countries around the world, because we’re still a small company in a big market. So the plan is to start in a few countries and not rush into anything. Keep it within our growth margins.

It seems important to you that all manufacturing stay here in Ireland?

Yes of course. We have 46 people working for us in our plant in Drogheda and everything is being kept in Ireland. Firstly it’s great to be able to make it here and secondly it means our intellectual property is safe as well.

The process we use involves a modification to the molecular structure of the water which allows for a better product. We will be expanding in the future.

We currently have three shifts to fulfil orders and we are near the peak of what the plant can produce. So expansion in facilities and personnel will be required. All of which will remain here in Ireland.

We have plans to expand our range, including makeup removal wipes which will be kind to the users’ skin just like the Waterwipes for babies.

So we have other applications coming on stream outside of baby wipes and that will mean bigger and better in the future.


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