My name is Finola Fegan and I’m the founder of Finca Skin Organics. I live in Co Louth. I'm married with four fine sons aged 16 to 23…(Any takers?)
What inspired you to join the natural health sector?
I have suffered with rosacea since my mid twenties, when I was first diagnosed by my doctor. Before that I just knew that my skin looked red and felt very tight and uncomfortable. So it was very much a case of ‘needs must’ . I had always liked my local health store in Newry (I was brought up on a farm, in Mayobridge, outside Newry). The owner was knowledgeable and friendly. I was buying natural hair products from her, and when my doctor's prescription of antibiotic gel for my rosacea, didn't work for me, I asked her for advice…. namely, what were other people with rosacea, who visited her health store buying?
She told me ‘organic rosehip oil’. I bought some, and that was the beginning of getting my rosacea under control. My skin loved it. The tight feeling went away and the redness reduced.
Rosehip oil is a light oil. It goes on easily and sinks in quickly. However I knew I needed something with more staying power. I began to experiment with natural plant oils and also hyaluronic acid. I'm an engineer by profession so experimentation and research is all part of what I do. I love the natural health sector. We have so much to learn from plants and nature. The practice of herbal medicine goes back thousands of years, compared to conventional medicine, which is only a couple of hundred years old. My strong belief is that ‘alternative’ plant based medicine, and conventional medicine should work together for patient good.
Where did you get the idea for your brand?
I had always been searching for skincare that was plant oil based and with a short ingredient list. I instinctively knew that i would have less trouble with my skin if there were less ingredients in my skincare, and any ingredients that were present, were plant based.
When I couldn't find skincare that suited my skin, I decided to make my own. I tried various plant oils including organic rosehip, before settling on plant oils that varied from light to heavy.
The brand name ‘Finca’ is the beginning of each of my forenames; Finola Catherine. I wanted to have some kind of direct connection with my brand, as it is very much part of me and my personal story. I also think the name is easy for people to remember!
What makes your brand unique?
The short plant based ingredient list makes us unique…There are lots of natural plant based skincare products on the market, but nearly all have essential oils in them. They smell great but are generally not good for rosacea. There can also be an overload of varying plant oils - often too many, and I think that throws up problems for people with very sensitive skin including rosacea. Dermatologists worldwide agree that short ingredient lists are best for sensitive skin conditions..
I formulate all of our products, and will continue to do so.
What are your company’s core values?
I suppose that at heart, I want to help people like me...
I also like honesty. The doctor who diagnosed me with rosacea all those years ago, was a lovely man. He was also honest. He accepted that he didn't know everything about skin conditions, but he held up a medical book, showed me a picture of someone with rosacea and said, ‘’I think that's what you have’’ …He had zero arrogance. In other words, he wasn't sure if what he was prescribing would work, but it was a place to start. The prescription medication as it turned out, didn't work for me, but at least he had diagnosed rosacea correctly and sent me on the path to working out a solution.
How do you support your community?
As part of our plans for Finca Skin Organics, I would like to create a place for rosacea sufferers to meet and discuss ways that they can help each other. Rosacea is a strange condition. It's embarrassing and difficult to talk about. It takes a bit of trust before people open up about their day to day difficulties. So a secure, trusted place to meet would be useful I think. I'm not sure what platform this would be on - possibly Facebook as this might suit most of our customers.
What has been the most rewarding part of your brand's journey?
The most rewarding part has been and will always be, helping people with rosacea and sensitive skin, and seeing the results. From time to time, I get before and after photographs, which really brings a great big smile to my face. Particularly if someone has had the problem for a long time and their rosacea is severe. And they've nearly accepted it. I love that I can make a difference to their lives and their self confidence. That's the most rewarding part.
What in your opinion makes Irish brands unique?
I believe that Irish brands are unique because of the care and friendliness that is part of who and what they are.
Irish people tend to be friendly but also no-nonsense and trustworthy at the same time. I think that carries through to the brands that are managed, supported and owned by Irish people.
What is your favourite product from your brand?
My favourite product is my Calming Serum 1. Maybe because it was the first product I formulated and created. It was also the only product I had, for a long time too.
Then I met a type 2 rosacea sufferer who let me experiment and trial my Calming Serum 2. I knew then, that I was beginning to have the complete solution for rosacea, and on my way to creating the Finca Skin Organics brand, as a trusted skincare solution for sensitive skin, including rosacea.
Tell us about something that has shaped your brand?
The people who have helped me along the way have shaped my brand. And that includes some of my early customers. They would have had varying inputs eg. feedback on how the products felt on their skin, what they thought of the colour of the cartons, what way they used the products. (I never thought of blending the 2 tints of the sunscreens to get the perfect Summer colour for me, until a customer recommended it).
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
There is so much still to do.. I get asked on a daily basis about cleansers. I could sell shares in cleansers at this stage, but I still have to formulate a Finca Skin Organics one. So that is the number one priority at the moment.
The future? I'd love Finca Skin Organics to be a much loved Irish brand, that's recognised for its minimal plant based ingredients and love and understanding of sensitive skin.