New skincare range from ‘the meadows’ keeps it natural

Living on a farm on the Wexford/Wicklow border, Claire Williams has created her own enterprise to facilitate a work/life balance. She has devised the ‘Meadows’ natural skincare range for women, with the development of a collection for babies on the agenda for the new year.

Claire, who lives with her husband Jonathan, and son, Dylan (4) just outside Tinahely, creates her skincare line on the family outfarm at Ashlawn.

“Our farm is a third-generation family-run farm since 1932. My husband Jonathan’s grandparents, Tom and Violet Free, took over Barnadown farm in 1932; and in 1964, the reins went to their daughter, Betty, and her husband, Billy Williams,” said Claire. Jonathan has been at the helm of the dairy farm with its Montbeliarde herd, since 2003.

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Claire, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from NUI Maynooth, also has a diploma in holistic massage, reflexology and sports injuries. “Nowadays we are so concerned with what we put into our bodies, we forget what we put onto our skin,” she said.

“Our skin acts as a protective organ that absorbs up to 60% of what we put on it,” said Claire. “We are passionate about making people more aware of the benefits of using only natural ingredients.”

She creates her skincare line by hand on the farm, without the use of parabens, chemicals, synthetic colours or fragrances. The products are vegan-friendly, with the exception of the lip balms which contain beeswax, and the packaging is recycled.

Starting a business is one of the most challenging things I have tried to do. Balancing family, farm and work is what so many people are striving for. With a lot of organising, I think I am doing well.

“I have gone from the Monday-to-Friday ‘9 to 5’ grind with a two-hour daily commute – to my job in mental health for people with special needs – to working from the farm. When I was commuting, everyone just functioned and I felt like a hamster going round and round on its exercise wheel,” she said.

“Things had to change once our son Dylan arrived. I went part-time to try and balance things but the poor little chap had asthma and allergies and was always sick. He needed his mum as dad had to run the dairy farm,” Claire said.

“After two years of everyone being exhausted, I decided to take a career break and look into developing a business from the farm.”

She completed a ‘start your own business course’ with the Enterprise Board in Rathnew, which she found extremely helpful – particularly in areas such as accounts.

“They also offer mentoring sessions to help you along your path of developing your ideas,” Claire said.

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The business got underway in October 2015. “I started out at my kitchen table, making products for family and friends, and then moved to a log cabin on the outfarm,” Claire said. She got a grant from the local enterprise board for the development of her website.

Workshops in natural skincare and home cleaning products are planned for the new year. She is also working towards expanding her stockist listing.

Her ranges are currently available in selected shops in Wexford and Wicklow, with the goal of expanding outlets in the new year. The ‘Meadows’ products are also available online at www.meadows.ie.