Sunday August 9, 2020

Making It Work: Naas move opens way to overseas expansion for cosmetics firm

The relocation has allowed Pestle & Mortar to bring logistics in-house

5th July, 2020
Sonia Deasy, co-founder and chief executive of Pestle & Mortar which has added a ninth product to its range of cosmetics. Picture: Martina Regan

Pestle & Mortar is gearing up for expansion in new markets, including Germany and China, following a recent move to a new 10,000-square-foot premises on the outskirts of Naas.

The move has allowed the Irish cosmetics brand to bring logistics in-house. Sonia Deasy, co-founder and chief executive, said the company had signed up distributors in four overseas markets so far this year and would launch a new e-commerce site in the coming weeks.

Pestle & Mortar began selling its newest product, a Vitamin C 2 Phase Serum, in April when the government lockdown was still in place in Ireland, forcing the closure of many of the company’s bricks-and-mortar stockists, including Arnotts, Avoca and Kilkenny.

“The first shipment of the serum came into our warehouse within the first two weeks of lockdown,” Deasy said.

“We didn’t know whether or not to launch it, because it’s quite expensive. It costs €76, but it’s a special product with a special application. It took us two years to develop, so we decided to go ahead, and it’s doing well.”

The serum is the ninth product in the Pestle & Mortar range, which also includes oils, moisturisers, skin cleansers and toners, priced from €29 and made without parabens, silicones, sulfates or propylene.

“From the beginning of this year, we’ve really focused on how the business is organised and getting all of the various processes fine-tuned so we can scale,” Deasy said.

“We've signed with a German distributor, another one in the Benelux countries and a third in China.

“Our products are shipped into China from Hong Kong and sold online through sites like Tmall. We have our own Tmall store and we use Weibo and WeChat. We can’t sell in physical stores in China because our products are not tested on animals, so it's all online over there.”

Pestle & Mortar’s distributor in the German market is part-owner of Niche Beauty, one of the country’s biggest online cosmetics retailers.

Deasy established Pestle & Mortar in November 2014 with her husband Padraic. She worked with her sister Monica, a qualified biochemist, to research the market for anti-ageing skincare before formulating her first product, a hyaluronic serum, over 18 months.

“Our biggest seller is still the Pure Hyaluronic Serum. It’s the product we’re really known for. When we launched that initially, everything happened so quickly that we were doing everything on our feet,” she said.

“We were squeezed into a 1,500-square-foot space in Newbridge town centre and then we moved to our new premises in Ladytown Business Park last year. Our focus now is really on global expansion. We knew we needed a warehouse, so we could control the shipping process from start to finish.”

Pestle & Mortar has manufacturing partners in Ireland and Germany and employs 20 people directly. It is a client company of Enterprise Ireland, the state agency.

Deasy said the company would launch a revamped version of pestleandmortar.com, its e-commerce site, within the next four to six weeks.

“We’ve worked really hard on making sure that all our systems are integrated and also on hiring the right people,” she said.

“We have a process engineer working with us now, for example. That’s really important because both myself and Padraic are entrepreneurial by nature. Our approach is ‘let‘s just do it, away we go.’

“When your business is growing, you need to have the systems and the people to back that up. If you don’t have them, you don’t have a business.”

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