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An Interview With Ría Organics Founder Nicola Shevlin. By Kajsa Kinsella

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"If you`re lucky enough to have a marketable surname like "King", you simply have to use it!"

Interview with Ria Organics for Self Starter Magazine June 2018

I count myself very lucky, that I have never been in the dire situation of having to visit a hospital emergency department. But, if this was ever to be the case, an experienced A&E nurse like Nicola Shevlin (former King) would be on the top of my wish-list of carers.

As we meet for a bit of breakfast and a chat, she radiates calm, confidence and content and her ability to work under pressure has proven to be very valuable as she, along with her two brothers Andrew and Richard over the last few years, built a business full of class, quality, and credentials.

Although running your own business with small children and a full-time job on the side is a hard race to run each and every day, but I think that Nicola is in the exact place she is meant to be and that this family business will bring her much joy and fulfillment in the future.

Well used to working under intense strain and fully focused concentration, Nicola was truly enjoying her work as an A&E nurse in St Michael`s Hospital in Dun Laoghaire and her longtime interest in dermatology and skincare started to become useful in her everyday work, as she bit by bit noticed a new trend. Much more than before, her patients were inquiring about the content of the creams and ointments that they put on their skin. Never before had she seen an interest like this, and this stirred her strong fascination with all matters of skincare.
Convinced that there was a strongly growing interest in what people were putting on their skin,
Nicola made her way across the waters and studied the art of creating ointments, how to blend them and to get the measurements right in the UK.

Nicola was, as she says herself, "happy out" in her home kitchen, having a lovely time, creating her own blends and the plan was to maybe, just maybe begin selling some of it on markets as a nixer while the children were in school. However, her two younger brothers, horticulturist Andrew and chemist Richard had other ideas...

"Sure, what can a big sister do, but give in, when her two younger brothers are of the opinion that they have spotted a gem of a business, and SHE is the one to rule them all...​"

Nicola Shevlin of Ria Organics, interviewed by Self Starter Magazine June 2018

The fact that there was a concrete growing demand from the public asking for clean, natural and organic skincare products was evident to the brothers and they found that she, Nicola, had come up with a gem of a business idea. This however initially fell on deaf ears with their older sister as she was in the midst of rearing her two small children, she, as well as her husband, holding down a stressful full-time job. It was simply not in the cards for her or her family at that time.

But, anyone who has siblings knows the power they possess, to make you get excited and change your mind! So, slowly but surely Nicola became accustomed to the idea, could see the potential and the golden wheels of Ríá Organics were set in motion.

The name Ríá Organics was chosen to represent their family name, King, and to set the standard for their products.

As they all agreed that going down the organic route was the only way forward, Nicola put all her spare-time and effort into producing a formula for their very first product and I don`t have to tell you the number of hours she spent measuring, stirring, blending, throwing out and starting over and sampling...

Soon, they realized that it would indeed be worth their while to aim for the very highest step of the organic ladder and file for a certification with the Soil Association, Cosmos Organic.
Although this meant Nicola had to start ALL over again, following the strict rules and regulations of the Soil Association and Cosmos Organic, it was going to be well worth it as this stamp of approval would elevate their brand instantaneously, once they received the certification.

So, back to the drawing board and one and a half year later, Nicola and her brothers were ready to have their product dissected and scrutinized. Naturally, all went well and now, the only problem that remained was to find a producer who was willing to open their premises to the scrutiny of the organization...

As the regulations of every single step of the production and the expectations of the entire premises are very strict, it was a bit of a challenge to find a manufacturer who was prepared to adhere to these, but, they found Cosmetic Creations in Mayo who were able to manufacture their skincare range and they passed the test with flying colours!

And now, the "only" problem remaining was to source packaging which adhered to the same strict rules as there were restrictions as to which ink was used on the labels, which type of lid was used, the quality of the lid insert, the standard of the jars and so on, and although it was a tough road to go down and it took a lot more work and effort than they had expected, Nicola swears by going for quality and standard over cheap and cheerful at any point.
Because in the end, it was all well worth it.

Interview with Ria Organics for Self Starter Magazine June 2018

"We literally put our launch at BLOOM 2017 together in a mere six weeks!"​

Add paragraph text So, now that all the puzzle pieces were in place, the daunting task of actually getting the products into shops and to retailers stood before the three siblings. None of them had experience in retail and this was a completely new territory.

As luck would have it, Andrew, who is a horticulturist had a friend who was a gardener and as he was planning on exhibiting at Bloom of last year, the trio decided to sponsor his garden and launch their business there and then.

This was decided a mere six weeks before the event and of course, from that day on for six weeks, their days and nights were filled with phone calls to manufacturers and producers, making sure they understood that they actually DID need the products and packaging right away! There was advertisement material to be designed, proofed and printed; banners; business card; transport to and from the event to organize, a website to be built, photographs to be taken, accommodation to be name it, they lived and breathed it for six intense weeks. Although it might not be funny whilst you are stuck in it, I think you benefit greatly from pushing yourself and going through a rush like that, to realize your strength and ability to actually get things done. The launch went splendidly well and due to this, they gained exposure in various magazines, blogs, and websites. On the back of this, their products were snapped up by the Irish chain The Health Store which gave Ria Organics a great base to build their brand on and many retailers have followed suit since.

I can personally vouch for that Ríá Organics products are pure bliss to apply on your skin, and the care they gave to create the very best for you is evident in each detail of their products as they only use the purest of ingredients.

As one of the main ingredients in their skincare range is Rosehip Oil and the supply of this from overseas was occasionally found to be unreliable, the innovative and resolute trio decided for this to never happen again. So, no need for summer camps for the kids this year, as the entire family is busy planting hundreds if not thousands of little rosehip plants in organic soil, all to be nourished and turned into pure gold for your skin by Ríá Organics.

Ria Organics logo, interviewed by Self Starter Magazine June 2018
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