To mark International Women's Day (March 8th), we sat down with Green Angel's Mary Mitchell. We delve into how her own skin journey led to the creation of Green Angel, what advice she would have for other women looking to start their own business, and her top tips for flawless skin.
IWD 2022: Meet the Inspirational Mary Mitchell
Question One: What inspired you to go into the skincare industry and launch a business?
"Growing up I could not buy a suitable cream off the shelf to suit my very dry skin, so I began to mix essential oils into my shop-bought creams. It didn’t take me long to discover the extraordinary healing and therapeutic benefits of these natural plant oils," Mary explained.
"When I met Chris, my husband, and business partner, he had grown up learning the magical and very effective benefits of seaweed. His Mum who was a nurse made a daily seaweed poultice for his Dad’s leg which had a wound from a motorbike accident. Chris was sent off as a young boy to pick the seaweed every weekend and often enjoyed a seaweed bath and snacks his Mum would make."
When the couple got together, they "noticed a gap in the market for a natural Irish skincare brand". Infusing two ancient therapies, Thalassotherapy (the use of seaweed and seawater) and Aromatherapy (the use of essential oils), Green Angel was founded.
"We came up with a 21st-century range of top-to-toe pure indulgent natural products which help to nourish and rejuvenate the skin cells and enter the inner layer so skin problems can be tackled from the root. We exhibited at several retail exhibitions and the public was very interested so we approached the pharmacies. As they say, the rest is history," Mary adds.
"Don’t let age dictate what you can or cannot do"
Question Two: Who was your biggest female business inspiration growing up?
"Many women inspired me growing up, which weren't, particularly businesswomen. There was a World War two French Resistance fighter who fascinated me. She was also a model, actress, film producer and became a competitive ballroom dancer at the age of 87. Sadly, she passed away in 2020 at the age of 101."
Teo Porchon Lynch was also known for her infectious attitude. "She had many positive sayings such as ‘feel the dance of life within you’, ‘don’t let age dictate what you can or cannot do’, she woke up every morning telling herself that that day was going to be the best day of her life, and always claimed that she would never retire, that she would ‘dance her way to another planet’."
Taking on the status quo, Mary describes how Teo influenced her to believe in her goals. "At the age of 8, she saw young boys practicing yoga on a beach and wanted to join in – she was told it was not ladylike and it was just for boys. So, she decided if they can do it so can she. She became a yoga master who taught yoga until the age of 100. She taught me that there is nothing you cannot do, if you tune into the creative life within you."
Question Three: What advice would you give a woman who wants to begin their own skincare range?
"Ask yourself why? Be passionate. Have absolute clarity around what it is that you want to do, how your products are different, and why people should care. Identify your ideal customer and your channels to market. Keep an eye on the trends in the market. Create the products. You will need to prove your products are safe and stable for customers."
"You will need to run stability tests and follow good manufacturing practices. Create a brand story and brand identity. It’s important all your packaging, website, social media content looks and sounds consistent. Trial your products in front of real customers, if they buy and like your products, then you are in business."
"Women are still often questioned"
Question Four: What are the challenges as a woman in the skincare industry?
"I think the challenges for women striving for success and equality in any business, not just the skincare business, are not new. Women are still often questioned - about their values and priorities in life – whether it be at the expense of their children, their spouse or even at their own personal expense."
"There are certainly a lot more opportunities nowadays for women, but with these opportunities, choices, and compromises both business and personal have to be made. There are implications and trade-offs that are not always easy."
Question Five: You have won many awards, but what do you feel is your proudest achievement to date?
"Yes, Green Angel has won many awards and indeed I have won personal awards also but my proudest achievement is when we opened our beautiful flagship store and coffee shop in Kilbride Co.Wicklow in 2021 It was always something I wanted to do." The Home of Green Angel is open Tuesday to Sunday, from Tuesday to Sunday, 9 am to 5pm.
Question Six: What is your biggest skincare secret?
"Water, sleep, and a good skincare regime."
Question Seven: What is your favourite Green Angel product or one Green Angel product you can’t live without?
"I absolutely love all the Green Angel products, and it’s hard to pick a favourite but if I have to pick one it would probably be the Green Angel Argan Body Oil. It is so good for hydrating and nourishing my skin, and it is so versatile."
"I love how soft my skin is after I slather my body with the oil after a shower. When I indulge in an occasional candlelit bath, I always pour a little into my bath water which helps to make my skin absorb the vitamins, fatty acids, and nutrients easily – it’s magic along with the Green Angel bath salts. For a good hair and scalp conditioning treatment, I massage the Argan Body Oil into my scalp and leave it overnight, my hair is so silky and shiny when I wash it the next morning. The scent never ceases to amaze me."