Finola Fegan left behind an established career in engineering at the age of 49 to develop an organic skincare brand for people with rosacea.
The Louth woman set up Finca Skin Organics in 2017, producing small batches of her first face serum from her kitchen table. Up until then, she had spent much of her working life running an engineering consultancy which she co-founded at the age of just 25.
“That first serum I sold was one I’d made for myself to help with my own rosacea. I had faith in it, so I wasn’t really nervous about moving into this whole new industry,” Fegan said.
“As an engineer, you learn to be methodical, to take things one step at a time, and I learned a lot about business from my father.”
Joe Fegan, who died in January aged 91, ran a cattle and poultry farm in Mayobridge outside Newry in Co Down for much of his life. After retiring at the age of 65, however, he decided to convert his farmland into a golf course and embarked on a new career.
“It took him five years, but he did it by himself, step by step. I learned a lot from watching him,” Fegan said.
A month before her father passed away, Fegan had raised €500,000 in seed funding from private investors and Enterprise Ireland, the state agency. She will use the funding to launch Finca Skin Organics online in the US.
“Rosacea is called the ‘curse of the Celts’. The vast majority of people who have it are based either in Northern Europe or North America,” she said.
“The US is the big one for me right now though. I have rosacea myself, so we have a strong brand story I think will really appeal to the market there.”
As it stands, Fegan formulates, makes and packs the Finca range herself at a production unit in Carlingford.
“I only have five products, each with a short list of ingredients. That’s important when you’re selling to people with skin sensitivities, but it also makes things easier when you’re looking to scale manufacturing,” she said.
“I only have two people part time right now. I will need to take on more when we start selling in the US, but we’ll target different parts of the market as we go, so I can manage the growth.”
Fegan already sells Finca online at rosacea.ie, fincaskinorganics.com and on amazon.co.uk. Her five products include two serums for rosacea subtypes one and two, a balm, anti-redness primer and a sunscreen for sensitive skin.
Prices start at €24.95 and Fegan sources plant oils, including grapefruit, tea tree and oregano oils, from Bomar Aromatherapy in Kilcoole in Co Wicklow.