Dublin natives and lifelong friends Marian McNally and Patricia Haran have developed their hobby into a successful business called Donegal Bog Cotton based in Falcarragh in north west Donegal.
Having spent many holidays in Donegal with their families, Marian recalls the great memories that they have of family barbecues, long walks and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and how these experiences have instilled a deep interest and love of nature which has had a huge impact on their business.
“We enjoy having access to the beautiful landscapes of Falcarragh and the surrounding area, and many of our products are named after and inspired by the beautiful flora, scents and colours of West Donegal,” explains Marian.
The business began as a joint hobby, making soap gifts for their friends and families. When those gifts proved to be popular and in demand, the co-founders knew that there was an opportunity there for them to go into business together.
“Our friendship is the driving force behind the business and key to its success,” says Marian.
“We have diversified our product range significantly since we opened in 2014, expanding from handmade soaps to moisturisers, to lip balms and scented candles. In the past year, our customer base has grown due to the creation of our website and the pandemic. With the advent of Covid-19, soaps and skin care have taken on a new importance for all of us, and people are actively seeking to make better, more sustainable life decisions,” says Marian.
Marian believes that that what makes Donegal Bog Cotton appealing to their customers and different from larger industrial producers is their ethos.
“The green image of Donegal aligns closely with our ethos. Identifying with the unique cultural identity and dramatic landscapes of Donegal brings an environmental credibility to our product range and we promote Donegal as a core concept of each of our products.
“Sustainability is a central component of the business and we are completely committed to a ‘green ethos’. The high quality of our cosmetics range is due to natural, sustainable and organic products. Only the best quality ingredients are used, all are sustainably sourced and are cruelty-free and most are vegan-friendly”.
Being based in Donegal has benefited Donegal Bog Cotton, not only because of the easy access to local ingredients and inspiration, but through the local supports available in the region as well.
“Through Údarás na Gaeltachta, we received the Trading Online Voucher last year and have been awarded it again this year. We are also taking part in their ‘B-Online’ marketing course” says Marian.
They have also availed of external professional marketing support that is closely aligned with their objectives. These supports have been hugely useful for developing their new website and marketing to a wider audience.
“This year we have had orders for candles from Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines through Bord Bia and we also have regular customers in the USA, UK and Europe” says Marian.
Donegal Bog Cotton is participating in the #BuyDonegal campaign for the second year in a row as last year’s campaign proved to be a huge success for Marian and Donegal Bog Cotton.
This year Donegal Bog Cotton is having a fantastic offer of 20% off a selection of gift packs over the #BuyDonegal weekend with a number of other special offers listed on their website, alongside their full range of products.
A thoughtful and beautiful gift for any loved one this Christmas!