‘Most of us are working mums’: Dublin Herbalists’ Claire Brett talks sustainability, skincare and her all-female team
Starting out from humble beginnings at her kitchen table, Claire Brett has seen her brand grow from start-up to thriving business in just a matter of years – but it took plenty of hard graft to get to where she is now.
The woman behind natural skincare project Dublin Herbalists, Claire understands that everyone’s skin is a little bit different… which is exactly why she launched her business in the first place: to help people tailor their routines to suit their busy schedules.
A stickler for the details, sustainability remains at the core of what she does and everything from the packaging to her 100% cruelty-free ethos has helped to set her and her brand apart from competitors.
Here, Claire tells us about her business and where her passion for natural remedies stemmed from.
Tell us about you and your business.
I grew up in rural Kildare. We had a huge garden and were surrounded by farmland. My father was a geologist and a landscape gardening enthusiast, so our gardens were packed full of wonders and he taught me all about plants. I went on to study herbal medicine and naturopathy and this led me to establishing Dublin Herbalists, a natural skincare company with a reputation for using exciting, lesser-known, plant-based ingredients.
Were you always interested in skincare/beauty?
Not really, no. I was interested initially in herbs and natural remedies and this interest led to herbal applications for the skin, which then led to me experimenting with making skincare. Once I started, I was hooked! That’s when my interest really exploded. It was a gradual progression.
All your products are 100% natural and are never tested on animals, how important was this to you when building your business?
Very important! We absorb everything we apply onto our skin, so it was – and still is – very important that the ingredients I use are natural and that nothing is ever tested on animals.
Dublin Herbalists went from kitchen table start-up to thriving business… what challenges did you face starting out?
We’ve faced many challenges along the way! From branding and packaging design to sourcing ingredients and jars, accessing markets and, of course, marketing and brand awareness – it’s all been part of the learning curve.
People are realising that sustainability is more than just a buzzword. What’s your take on this side of things?
Sustainability encompasses so much and it is very much at the core of what we d at Dublin Herbalists. From using mainly glass and tin for packaging our products to using Earth Pact material for our outer cartons (this is a compostable, food waste material) we are always investigating ways in which we can be kinder to the environment. We actually just recently launched a regenerating gift set that is housed in a “mushroom” outer carton made from fully compostable hemp fibers grown in mycelium! It’s a very exciting packaging medium and one we hope to use more of in the future. As a business in this ever-changing world, sustainability also means longevity to us, so we try to stay nimble and innovative; honest and open to change.
Your business is female-owned and entirely female staffed, was this an intentional decision on your part?
No, not at all. We have had males working with us in the past and I would be very happy to employ them in the future. We just happen to be an all- female team at the moment; most of us are working mums and we embrace this and are proud of what we have created both in our work and home lives.
There’s already been quite a bit of interest in Dublin Herbalists abroad too, what has the reception been like?
It has been fantastic! We often get emails from people in various countries and from various platforms about stocking our products and so far we sell to Singapore, Germany, Paris, Australia, Canada and the USA.
What’s your favourite product that you stock?
It would have to be the Every Day Cleansing Gel. I love the uniqueness of the product (it’s basically oils held together in a gel form, that transform into a cleansing milk) and also how gently and effectively it cleans my face, leaving it feeling fresh and hydrated.
How did you come up with the recipes for your products?
I spend a LOT of time looking into interesting ingredients, studying skincare trends and of course asking people what they need! Once I hone in on a product, I brainstorm the desired functions and then find ingredients and synergies of ingredients to meet what outcomes people want from the product. Then I order in ingredients and start playing with them! The team takes home various combinations and over time gives feedback and we go from there. It’s a wondrous, creative, alchemic process that I absolutely love.
Are there any other Irish brands (skincare/beauty or otherwise) that you love?
There are so many! We are motivated and inspired by all the newness and creativity in the Irish skincare market. Mookie & Boo, The Handmade Soap Company, The Nature of Things and Jo Browne, are all favourites. I also have to mention all the wonderful small Irish businesses making gift boxes and care packages for new parents/the elderly/loved ones abroad in particular. The Book Resort, Faerly, Mama Moments, Ulluv, Bellmeadow Ireland and so many more– these companies and brands constantly inspire us to pay more attention to the little details and they truly emphasise the personal touch. Grá Chocolates is another Irish brand I must mention – they’re unbelievable!
What’s in the pipeline next?
In 2021 we released nearly 10 new lines, so this year the focus is on building awareness of those products. We want to continue going into stores to meet all of the wonderful sales teams and train them on the Dublin Herbalists products and also on some of our new contract manufacturing jobs, which we love as we get to formulate and make for other wonderful brands!
All Dublin Herbalists creams and oils are made from carefully chosen floral waters, natural butters, and active ingredients to intensely hydrate, deeply nourish and brighten up tired and weary skin. You can shop the full range over on their website or through stockists nationwide.’
This article was originally published in May 2022.