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Image / Style / Irish Design

Irish Design Spotlight: CurlyCo


By Denise Walshe
27th Aug 2023
Irish Design Spotlight: CurlyCo

Those with curly hair will know the struggle of, not only nailing down a routine that works, but finding products that do the job they’re meant to. After years of neglecting and mistreating her own curls, Irish woman Denise Walsh set out on a path to embrace her natural hair – creating her own haircare brand in the process.

Tell us about you and your brand
I am a wife to my loving, crazy husband Jason (of Jason Walsh Acupuncture), a mam to my three amazing kids Poppy, Charlie and Hughie, hair stylist and owner of Rustiq salon Kilkenny and owner and director of my new baby CurlyCo. I created CurlyCo as I saw, not only a gap in the market but a lack in the market – especially in the Irish market – for products designed for curly-haired people.

What is your mission?
My mission was and still is to create a product that has a high professional standard, using the highest quality ingredients but to be able to offer it at a retail level as I believe hair care should not be selective, it should be available to all!

Did you always know you wanted to be a hair entrepreneur?
Absolutely! Since I was a child I always had an interest in the art of hair and the science behind it. I think that’s how I have managed to work in this industry for 27 years – I’ve done everything from styling to opening my own salon to teaching within the industry, travelling around and now launching my own range of products which is up there as a very proud moment for me!

What kind of items do you stock?
So far we have launched six curly haired products, those are: curly defining shampoo, curly defining conditioner, a curly defining mask, a curly defining mousse, curly defining cream and curly hold gel. These are our base range and we are busy working away to expand our products. We have also just launched our beautiful CurlyCo Mulberry silk turbans which are available now with additional products and CurlyCo promotional gifts.

What new brands or items are on your radar?
Accessories for hair!  I won’t say too much BUT  keep an eye on our socials and website for all the latest products as they become available. Next year I hope to expand and launch two to three more products to the CurlyCo range. It’s been amazing to see the processes involved – from ingredient selection to testing and production. I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy them.

Was money/funding a concern when starting out?
Absolutely! As with any new venture starting out, it is always scary and daunting especially as I’m doing this all by myself but I have great support behind me. My husband and my parents have helped me along the way and supported me from day one when this was just an idea. They are my rocks and I am eternally grateful for them.

Best business advice you’ve gotten
The Irish haircare line that is a godsend for curly hair It is a hard lesson and definitely a life lesson that comes with time but whenever I feel overwhelmed, I think back to this advice and use it as a mantra so I don’t lose focus.

Favourite fashion/design accounts you follow
Aoife Mc Namara, she’s a little bubble of energy and I just adore her fashion brand and what it stands for; Pippa O’Connor, another Irish lady to whom I feel a lot of us can totally relate. Pippa doesn’t shy away from showing the juggle of it all – working, being a mam and wife and just generally trying to do it all day in and day out!

Other Irish brands you love
Sculpted by Aimee – a total inspiration! Aimee is an amazing down-to-earth lady who is constantly evolving her brand. It’s amazing to see and her products are a credit to her. Jennifer Rock – another powerhouse! Jen’s love and knowledge for all things skin is such a joy to watch whether it’s on Instagram, television or listening to her on the radio. Her knowledge and passion for the beauty industry is amazing and is truly reflected in her Skin Nerd products. I also love Ella &Jo. Charlene and Niamh are two exceptional Irish women and I love everything about their range. They are a pleasure to watch on social media and an honour to know personally.

Most useful learning since setting up a business
Be patient and expect delays! Unfortunately, smooth sailing isn’t always guaranteed challenges are also a learning curve that builds you as a person and as a brand. I’ve learnt to understand some tasks are out of my control so again to be patient, and trust the process… but also, be ready, organised and have a coffee to hand!

Proudest moment so far
Turning this idea that I had floating around in my head into a reality. Setting this venture by myself and getting CurlyCo across the finish line to where it is now available for sale and on shelves is something I’m really proud of.

I want my brand to be remembered for… the amazing way it makes you feel about your hair! For so long, there was no guidance – or love, for that matter – for curly hair. Being able to provide for that market is so humbling and makes the experience all the more worthwhile, especially when you have people emailing you to tell you how happy they are that they have discovered your product, that your product has given them confidence and that they love their curly hair again! That happiness can’t be measured and for CurlyCo to give people confidence and joy is a pretty remarkable way for a brand to be remembered, I think!