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Image / Style / Beauty / Irish Design

#ShopIrish: the luxury Irish wellness brand putting kindness to the forefront


By Dominique McMullan
13th Jan 2021
#ShopIrish: the luxury Irish wellness brand putting kindness to the forefront

Supporting Irish business is a passion of ours at Image, and it’s easy with so many entrepreneurial and innovative Irish businesses to buy from. We sat down with Donagh Quigley, Founder of The Handmade Soap Company, to hear all about his wellness brand that puts kindness to the forefront


 What is your name, and what is your business?

Donagh Quigley, Founder of The Handmade Soap Company.

The Handmade Soap Company is a luxury Irish skincare and wellness brand that puts kindness to the forefront. Combining 100% natural, foraged ingredients with vegan formulas and sustainable packaging, our products benefit you and the environment too.

The brand was founded by myself and my wife Gemma Quigley, from our kitchen back in 2008. Now the brand offers over seventy natural, handmade skin, hair and wellbeing products. Designed with performance in mind, each ingredient is hand-selected to ensure the product blends are high in quality and efficacy, while always ensuring environmental sustainability.

How long have you been in business? And what was your mission from the outset?

Our mission is to become the kindest body care brand in the world, this means to our people, our planet and our customers. We want every single touchpoint with The Handmade Soap Company to be a positive one.

Of what part of your business are you most proud? 

I am actually proud of quite a few things we have done!! Firstly the team we have put together; we have taken a pretty diverse bunch of people and created a world class team. That gives me a lot of joy. Then the products; our formulas have never been influenced by cost, we have always made the best product we could, then figured out if we could make money from it afterwards. Finally the hundreds and hundreds of unsolicited emails and cards we get from our customers. We get loads every week and we still get really excited about reading them out. They got us through the first few years that were really tough and still have that magical ability to turn a bad day into a good one.

Who are your business heroes? Personal heroes?

They overlap, as my business heroes tend to focus on a better way to live and thus a better way to do business. David Hieatt from Hiut Denim rocks, as does Ari Weinzweig from Zingermans. Paul Polson (ex Unilever, believe it or not!) and Tim Smit (Eden Project) also spring to mind. If ever I feel myself slipping personally “Gandhi” by Louis Fischer and “Mans Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl always bring me back.

How have you found the last six months? – professionally and personally

We have had an unusual Covid experience in that demand for our products has increased significantly so that our work life has gotten very busy. We have been able to accelerate a lot of things particularly around our new ANAM range which really pushes the boundaries of green and sustainable packaging.

Personally it’s been up and down…there is very much an increased level of anxiety in the air and I have found it challenging to keep it all balanced. But still extremely grateful for what we have.

A huge amount of Irish celebrities have been praising your products, from Jodie Wood, to James Kavanagh, to Mairead Ronan, to Thalia Heffernan, have you noticed this? 
Yes it’s been incredible to receive this endorsement. We found it’s been such a powerful way of getting our messaging out there and we’re so thankful for this support.We had a big year planned in 2020 with the launch of our most sustainable range yet and we needed to get the brand story out there. We brought on a PR Agency last year (Rob Kenny PR & Social) to tell our story and build awareness of our core values and it is really working. We have noticed a huge corresponding jump in brand recognition and interest in return.

What keeps you positive?

Believe it or not I actually think we are in a very hopeful time. With the environmental crises we cannot afford to be pessimistic, that time has passed. We have to be hopeful for the future. As humans we really do have the power to fix this crises. The incentives have to be right meaning survival over unfettered capitalism and we are getting pretty close to that stage. So I am very hopeful for the future. (And I run a bit and do a good bit of yoga, that helps too!)

 What new perspective (if any) have you gained from 2020?

That what we thought was not possible is now done. Think Covid vaccine within 9 months… just imagine if we brought that same urgency to climate change or closed loop packaging or reimagining regulation around capitalism as we currently know it.

Best/worst moment from 2020?

Best was watching my little boy learning to swim, that moment where he let go and went for it. Pure joy.

Worst was probably around health issues we had within the family, all better now.

Another Irish business you want to shine a spotlight on? 

The Fumbally, Sceal Bakery, Jill & Gill, Krewe Capel Street, Beekon Batches, The Tenth Man

Anything else you would like to let us know? 

Our new range launch ANAM. The pioneering new product range completely reinvents how we consume products from home – introducing lifelong glass bottles refilled by the world’s first 100% compostable pouch developed right here in Co. Meath.

  • Finest 100% natural ingredients to date
  • Lifelong ornate glass product bottles to keep forever
  • World’s First compostable refill pouch slots through your letterbox
  • Completely reinventing how you enjoy skincare products from home – the never-ending cycle of repurchasing plastic containers for our soaps and lotions is no more
  • THSCo’s first ever Pop-Up shop has just opened on Dublin’s Wicklow Street – it’s absolutely beautiful and shoppers can watch our products being handmade in the back for the first time

Dying to try The Handmade Soap Company? Find them here, or on social media @thehandmadesoapcompany