Partner Content

The Glow Getter: why Oonagh O’Hagan is on a mission to revolutionise women’s wellness

The Meaghers Pharmacy Group owner and managing director shares her vision for modern pharmacy care. Partner content with Meaghers Pharmacies

Oonagh O’Hagan, owner and managing director of Meaghers Pharmacy Group is the Irish Tatler Businesswoman of the Year. Photo by Melanie Mullen

It’s been a busy 12 months for the Meaghers Pharmacy Group as the company continues on its growth journey; reflected in the amount of accolades - seven in the last six months alone - it has received, including Employer of the Year at the Retail Excellence Ireland Awards and being named one of Ireland’s Top 30 Medium Great Places to Work.

In the last few weeks it was also named Online Pharmacy of the Year at the Irish Pharmacy Awards and received the Retail Excellence of the Year award from Chambers Ireland. The woman leading the team at Meaghers Pharmacy Group is Oonagh O’Hagan, owner and managing director.

“I ask myself why would someone walk into one of our pharmacies over a competitor’s,” Oonagh says. “And it’s very simple. It’s about our people and the trusted relationships they have with our customers. It’s about the knowledge they have and the advice they share in a genuinely caring and empathetic manner. It’s all about our people in Meaghers Pharmacy Group. We have so much knowledge about how to stay well and we are all very passionate about sharing that with our customers.”

Oonagh is the current Irish Tatler Businesswoman of the Year, operating nine pharmacies and a thriving online store. Hers is a modern vision for pharmacy care. “For me it’s all about taking a much more preventative approach to your health; a holistic approach to your wellbeing,” she says, “and a mindshift away from sickness and towards health. We favour a proactive approach to healthcare. If a customer comes to us experiencing pain or sleeplessness, the first thing we will try to do is explore the root causes. Yes, there is a place for pharmaceutical medications, but in my experience there is always something else as the underlying root cause and if we can address that it can make the world of difference. We encourage our customers to consider their lifestyle choices, or the supplements that could help. While certain conditions are hereditary, I firmly believe that in many cases sharing our knowledge and exploring why customers may be experiencing the symptoms they are feeling can make a true and lasting difference. It leads back to the idea that a pharmacy should be somewhere you come to stay well, rather than because you’re sick.”

A qualified pharmacist, Oonagh is passionate about evidence-based care. “If you come to a Meaghers Pharmacy you have the expertise of our pharmacists,” she says, “but you also have highly trained healthcare and wellness advisors, and we have introduced expert skincare advisors, along with skincare diagnostic technology. Being brand agnostic means that when you come to Meaghers we are interested in finding what your skincare concern is, and advising on the ingredient you require to address that concern. This ingredient may be in several brands and we can explain the difference in potency and delivery mechanism of each, so our customers can make more informed decisions on the choice they make.”

That sense of empowerment through education has seen Oonagh O’Hagan become something of a wellness influencer. With over 47,000 followers on Instagram, the 50-year-old frequently takes to the screen to answer customer queries, interview experts in topics including menopause, IVF, insomnia and more, and to share her preferred products and supplements.

“It’s funny, I really wasn’t a social media person before the pandemic,” she smiles. “But during that time I was taken aback by the level of misinformation out there, and I felt compelled to share the truth, to alleviate a lot of fear amongst our online community.” A reliance on ‘Dr Google’ or non-qualified social media sources is, Oonagh says, an increasing problem. “The volume of misguided health queries we receive proves how much nonsense there is out there online. So I do feel a genuine obligation to dispel some of that. Social media allows me to speak directly to our customer; it is a bit like standing at the pharmacy counter each day. It allows me to hear the queries, to discuss the issues and most importantly to appreciate how our customers are feeling.”

A great talker, Oonagh O’Hagan walks the walk, too. She’s currently on a “big fitness journey”, which includes “running, cycling and skipping”, and her glowing skin suggests a woman whose wellness advice holds water. She takes protein powder, Vitamin C and collagen supplements daily, in addition to the gut health supplement Symprove, a product she loved so much she is now their Irish partner and distributor to other pharmacies and health stores.

“It is true to say that many cheaper supplements don’t achieve much,” she says. “With any supplement you need high quality ingredients in the right dose, in the right formulation and with the right delivery mechanism to make an impact. The reason I love Symprove so much is because it is backed up by third party clinical evidence which demonstrates how it supports your gut health with IBS and a number of other gut health conditions.”

Efficacy is meanwhile at the heart of Meaghers SkinLab, a differentiated skincare offering. The SkinLab at Meaghers Churchtown offers professional, cosmeceutical skincare brands including Murad, IMAGE Skincare, Dermalogica and the brand most likely to be found on Oonagh’s bathroom shelf, SkinCeuticals. “We have sought out these dermatologist-created, clinically proven brands for our customers. Skin is our largest organ, and skincare issues can be debilitating, whether that’s for teenagers experiencing acne or women navigating their menopause journey and the aging that comes with their skin at this time. SkinLab offers ethical, efficacious products, and we provide the expertise that allows our customers to make informed choices. No hard sell; just evidence and results.”

Before we wrap up, Oonagh offers a message. “If you have any healthcare concern call in to visit our teams or reach out to us on social media. We are trained professionals and there is nothing we haven’t seen or heard before - you can trust me on that one. And most importantly we are here to help.”

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