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Blooming Brilliant: The Inspirational Story of Ocean Bloom
As a grandmother of four and a qualified aromatherapist, Ocean Bloom founder Cheryl Cleminson has always been interested in skincare. But it wasn’t until a member of her family was personally affected that she discovered the power of seaweed. “When my grandson Alfie was younger and suffering from baby eczema, we tried all the products on the market, even the natural ones, and he didn’t get ease from any of them,” she explains.
By chance, she got chatting to an elderly lady in the community, who mentioned in her day they would take the children down to the sea and bathe them. This was just the spark of inspiration that Cheryl needed. “I started thinking about it and I collected some seaweed and made a baby seaweed bath for him and his skin started healing,” she says.
She began experimenting by blending the seaweed with oils and created products for family and friends. They were a hit, and someone suggested she should make a business from it. She subsequently enrolled in a business course with her Local Enterprise Office and began an in-depth study into growing seaweed and its health-giving properties. It’s been a whirlwind adventure ever since.
Launching the Business
Cheryl confides that getting the business up off the ground was one of the bravest things she’s ever done. She’s bootstrapped it from the beginning, handling everything from product development to filling the containers. She notes: “To start a business, usually people save up or they have all these processes in place, I didn’t have anything in place. I would lie in bed and feel a bit panicky and think, ‘I’m too old for this’.” But hearing how her products work made it incredibly rewarding. “I think people coming up to me and telling me that the products have made a difference to their skin is the biggest highlight,” she says. “If I can carry on making a difference to even a few people, that’s the best reward.”
The Importance of Good Advice
For anyone interested in starting their own business, Cheryl offers the following advice: “I think it’s important to have a bank who knows you and has a good insight into your business. You can have a magnificent business plan but if you haven’t got a bank who believes in it, then it won’t work. I believe going to your local branch, to people who know you, is so important.”
It was the staff at her local branch who first told Cheryl about MyBusinessToolkit, a package offering access to a suite of five leading business tools, from Sage Accounting and Payroll to the bOnline website builder. MyBusinessToolkit is free for 3 months when you open a Start-up Business Current Account before the 31st of March 2017.
Having access to MyBusinessToolkit through AIB and in particular Sage has helped Cheryl to keep everything organised. She explains, “Since using Sage in MyBusinessToolkit, I can actually see how much I have in my account and how much I’ve spent on products and that gives me an idea of where my account is at.” The software is also a huge timesaver. “At the moment my time is so taken up with the business and Sage just frees me up.” Knowing that she won’t have to move to new software when the business grows is also a huge plus. “I know that Sage will grow with my business,” she says. “Some of the other packages can only cope with a small amount of money going through it, but with Sage there’s no limit so I can just carry it with me as I grow.” Being able to pick up the phone and speak to a dedicated customer support person from BCSG is also a huge plus.
Skincare for Everyone
Since launching in March 2015, the brand has gone from strength to strength. Within a year, Ocean Bloom was an award winning skincare brand, with their Seaweed Serum Pouches being shortlisted for Natural Beauty Skincare Product of the Year 2015. Cheryl’s products have since earned a cult following in the beauty industry, with famous names like Triona McCarthy and Rosanna Davidson counting themselves as fans.
Sourcing the very best of everything is important to Cheryl. As it turns out, her hometown of Castletownbere on the Beara peninsula has some seriously superior seaweed. “We have some of the cleanest waters in the world,” she explains. “They’re classed as Grade A waters, which means they’re crystal clear and there’s no pollution.”
Looking to the Future
As for the future, there’s no sign of Ocean Bloom slowing down. Cheryl already has plans for expansion into the UK and European market: “At the end of next year, I want to be in the UK. In five years - Europe. Then world domination!”
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