From mental health struggles to farm entrepreneur

A Wicklow-based entrepreneur has opened up about the mental health struggles that led her to develop a natural skincare range on the family farm.

Claire Williams followed up her science degree with a trip to the United States and received diplomas in holistic massage, reflexology and sports injuries rehabilitation.

She then worked for 17 years with the Department of Education and the HSE, focusing on supporting people with special needs and mental health challenges. In 2012, she met and married dairy farmer Jonathan and settled in Tinahely. Their son, Dylan, was born in 2013.

“Dylan was a sick baby and I was a first-time mum. I felt quite isolated and with no support network, my mental health went downhill. It was a really difficult time,” she said.

She was diagnosed with depressive anxiety. After maternity leave she returned to work and fought to survive the daily commute struggles and stressful job.

Two years later, she took a career break to focus on recovery. Participation in a natural skincare workshop put her on a whole new path, and her struggles receded.

Dylan and Jonathan both had sensitive skin and bouts of eczema, so I started to make some creams for them, which then expanded to friends and family. It has just taken off from there.

From the kitchen table, she took her collection to the local markets. Over time, the ‘Meadows’ range expanded. Her collection comprises a cleansing face oil; face serum; face cream; lip/hand and foot balm; body scrub; pillow mist; travel set; and a baby gift set.

Claire created her skincare range blending oils, butters and herbs, fresh from the farm. “All products are 100% natural, predominantly organic and vegan friendly with recyclable packaging. There are no parabens, chemicals, synthetic colours or fragrances. They are 100% Irish and EU regulated,” she said.

As her passion grew for skincare, Claire said that her confidence and mental health started to steadily improve.

“Creating these beautiful products was also the gift of ‘me time’ and I could feel myself moving from surviving to thriving, using all of my skill sets from all my studies.”

Her most popular products are: revitalising face serum; ‘Sweet Dream’ spritz and ‘Sneaky Peek’ travel set.

On my journey of recovery from mental health challenges, beautiful ‘Meadows’ has blossomed. I have gone from a three-hour daily commute – Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm – to having my own business, which is slowly blossoming and it works around family and farm life.

With some online sales going abroad, Claire plans to target the export market and has signed up for an enterprise board course on exporting. She received a trading online voucher this year. Expanding into a men’s range is also on the cards.

She has begun to host ‘detox your beauty regime’ workshops and said that she aspires to growing each and every product ingredient on the farm.

“I have been doing workshops at various venues including farm shops, community centres, libraries and restaurants. My plan is to renovate an old farm building and do workshops from the farm, along with farm visits,” she said.