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Image / Beauty

Meet three of Ireland’s trailblazing beauty entrepreneurs

by Melanie Morris
08th May 2019


Marissa Carter

How do you build your business beauty idea into a successful beauty brand? At IMAGE Beauty Festival (May 25 & 26), Melanie Morris will chat to three great Irish beauty entrepreneurs – Marissa Carter, Darren Kennedy and Peigín Crowley. Here’s what you can expect

An idea without action is just a dream.

That is one of my favourite quotes.

I’ve no idea who said it first, but it’s message always rings true to the many of us who’ve had that incredible brainwave for a product or gadget that will change the world (and also our financial future), and yet we’ve done nothing about it.

That’s why I have so much respect for Ireland’s young entrepreneurs; the people who take the plunge and put their energies, careers and possibly mortgages on the line to make their dream a reality.

Related: Book your IMAGE Beauty Festival tickets

Related: IMAGE Beauty Festival – what it’s all about

Over the past dozen-or-so years, luck and my line of work has given me a front-row seat to watch some of Ireland’s most daring entrepreneurs rise from bright-eyed enthusiast to CEO.

I’ve seen them rise extra-early to attend networking events, massage diaries so they can then participate and speak at these events.

They’ve networked, hustled, charmed and conquered.

Ireland’s beauty industry is full of smart men and women who’ve nursed their idea from incubator to international distribution. They’ve defined a point of difference for their business and put heart, soul, personality and time into it. I get to talk with three of the best at the up-coming IMAGE Beauty Festival in a special panel discussion on how to build a beauty brand.

Marissa Carter

Marissa Carter is a trailblazer. I knew her first when she was a beautician in Dun Laoghaire; she judged her first IMAGE Beauty Awards aged 21 and left everyone for dust.

Liz Earle, also on the panel, later asked me who she was. It was no surprise to me when I saw her open a smart salon on Blackrock’s main street sometime later. From there, in 2008, she was selling her own, delicious, lime and ginger body scrub that, absolutely, is better than the Espa hero. I still have one stashed away for special occasion use.

Cocoa Brown is now a generic name for tan, just like Sellotape, Kerrygold and GHD – we all know what we’re talking about by just referencing the brand

Cocoa Brown was Marissa’s first venture into large-scale product development and distribution. In the five-or-so years it has hit shelves everywhere from Athlone to Australia; Tipperary to Toronto.

Cocoa Brown is now a generic name for tan, just like Sellotape, Kerrygold and GHD – we all know what we’re talking about by just referencing the brand.


Not content with just one blockbuster success under her belt, last year, Marissa did it all again with her eponymous, 100+ item make-up collection, which is now following in Cocoa Brown’s furrows, rolling out globally. The first run of product sold out in five days.

Marissa is candid, honest and generous in sharing stories of her business journey. She’s known to be an excellent communicator and has unofficially mentored hundreds of aspiring beauty entrepreneurs through her keynote presentations, her masterclasses and her social media stories.

Darren Kennedy

Darren Kennedy almost invented blogging. He was one of the first out of the traps in the early noughties with, which offered fashion (and other) advice to men and women.

The difference between Darren and other bloggers around that time was that his created engagement… and converted to sales for featured brands and retailers; he had credibility, likability, a great eye and an outstanding work ethic. In the intervening years, Darren has become a TV presenter, writer, fitspo, influencer of international reputation.

Darren Kennedy and Marissa Carter

In 2018, Darren launched Kennedy & Co, a full men’s grooming collection, created and manufactured in Ireland. Darren knows the importance of authenticity, consistency and quality, and he brings all of this from his own life into Kennedy & Co.

Darren’s charm, brain, resilience and decisive nature have all helped him make significant inroads as an entrepreneur in a very short space of time.

He is brave, fun, exuberant and will share his business journey with attendees at the IMAGE Beauty Festival on Sunday, May 26.

Buy your tickets now (from €45)

Peigín Crowley

Love spas? Love the whole spa experience? So does Cork native Peigín Crowley. She’s devoted her career to working in spa-based beauty; firstly through years of experience with the Lauder Group where she was brand manager of cult hero brands including Aveda, Darphin and Bumble and Bumble, and more recently, through her own consultancy.

Peigín was the project manager for some of Ireland’s most divine, innovative spas including The Montenotte Hotel, The Cliff and The Cliff at Lyons, for whom she created an award-winning product collection, and The Spa at Adare Manor,for whom she negotiated the relationship and in- spa treatments with La Mar). She continues to consult with a host of leading spas, offering a bespoke service from talent acquisition to full turnkey solutions.

In 2019, in collaboration with her partners, Peigín launched Moss of the Isles, her own spa and lifestyle brand which will retail through luxury outlets worldwide.

Peigín is animated and her knowledge of the beauty industry is global, from corporate to niche, all in the luxury space.


Do you have an idea that you want to make into something more than a dream? Or would like to get up-close with Ireland’s leading beauty entrepreneurs (they may well bring a few treats for attendees!)?

Join us for Building a Beauty Brand on Sunday May 26 at IMAGE Beauty Festival . Spaces limited. Day passes: €45. Weekend passes: €65.

This weekend will be jam-packed with beauty tips, masterclasses – including Patrick Ta’s first Irish masterclass and a special goodie bag worth over €100. Not to mention, complimentary hair and beauty treatments, live DJ.


beauty festival