Cathal goes into the soap business with his children
It is debatable whether Cathal is the founder of the Wicklow Soap Company or if his two small children can claim that honour. Either way Conan (7) and Aoibhin (5) are both registered as CEOs on the website. Actually, that may not be accurate either as Aoibhin’s biography states she is just allowing her big brother to be CEO while in fact, that role is already held by her – oh that and the position as VP of international sales.
They are certainly a powerful team.
The genesis of the business came about several years ago when the tightknit family decided to reduce the amount of plastics in the bathroom – and dump all the shampoo and conditioner containers. Cathal found that most of the products used could be replaced by bars of some kind and so he started exploring what was available.
It turns out goat’s milk is a top option for a range of medicinal and beauty reasons, although Cathal quickly adds that he didn’t start a goat farm, someone else had already done that. Instead his idea, or perhaps his children’s idea, was to personalise the soap so people coming to the website can chose the perfume they want.
Goats milk soap is very good for human skin. It is naturally rich and fatty with a high content of lactic acid which both exfoliates the skins and nourishes it. It is anti-inflammatory and anti-aging.
“It’s the same with donkey milk.”
I’ll just let that sink in, shall I? Donkey milk – it’s a thing.
When asked about the properties of regular cow’s milk, Cathal defers at the point to his joint CEOs. He is not sure but he will ask them.
“Donkey milk, however, can also help skin irritations, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and protect against bacterial infections. It’s big in the West of Ireland and they export a lot to the US.”
Conan and Aoibhin enjoy mixing the soaps and fragrances when not playing with their friends. It is also important for Cathal to explain the business side of things too.
“For example, our hand sanitizers are priced at €4 and when we sell one I explain that it is not all profit, and that we need to reinvest €3 back into the business. This way they understand how a company works.”
Recently Conan wanted to buy a Pokemon ball costing €20 and he was able to save up enough from soap sales to buy it for himself.
‘This gave him a real appreciation of how money and business works.”
Despite the fun and games this is a serious business. Cathal works with Aer Lingus but when COVID hit first he was on lockdown and now his work has been reduced to part-time. He needs this new business to work, they all do.
“We were just testing the water before COVID but now we are looking seriously at this business. We have expanded into hand sanitizer to meet demand and sought other fragrances. For example, we recently introduced a bubblegum scent to appeal to children and make it easier for them to wash their hands. This has been very popular.”
Other new products include a shea butter soap that is not only moisturising but can help alleviate eczema and a carrot, cucumber and aloe vera which Cathal reckons will be a winner.
Despite COVID, or perhaps because of it, the business is starting to ramp up. Cathal has a meeting with the local enterprise office as he may need a production space as orders start to ramp up. Already it looks as though the kitchen table may be outgrown.
There is a possibility that Wicklow schools may be interested in the soaps – both because of the medicinal properties and to support local initiatives. The new business cards just arrived today and Cathal is also looking at supplying local retails outlets and shops on a regular basis.
What started as a hobby has been catapulted into a business by COVID which proves it’s an ill wind that blows no good.
Visit the website for more information http://thewicklowsoapcompany.ie/