Ireland’s beauty industry has never been so buoyant, with an impressive roll-call of experts, entrepreneurs and clued-up creatives making waves on home and international waters. While a list of our key players could consume a magazine of its own, we’ve selected the people who, in our eyes, have reached stellar status, plus ones to mark for future greatness.
Mark and Kira Walton
Photography; Suzy McCanny
Husband and wife team Mark and Kira Walton were ahead of the pack when they embraced the hero beauty ingredient seaweed. Its restorative, detoxing and reviving properties are the bedrock of the VOYA brand, the range of seaweed-based organic products, which is now distributed through almost 37 countries, and countless luxury spas worldwide. From a family-run business, which started with seaweed baths in Strandhill, Co Sligo, VOYA is now a global and award-winning player. Recently, the brand became the first spa product house worldwide to receive the Wellness for Cancer accreditation, which aims to provide safe treatments for survivors or those undergoing treatments.
Photography; Suzy McCanny
Canadian-born Maggie Mangan is the nose and business brain behind Galway-based fragrance house Cloon Keen Atelier. Her niche perfume mini-empire, which she set up with husband Julian Checkley, had been growing steadily since 2002, with Cloon Keen candles selected for the Queen’s historic visit at Dublin Castle in 2011. The brand’s esoteric perfumes include Sybarite, a lush sandalwood fragrance, and Grande Dame, an Oriental rose creation inspired by a painting in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel. The best-dressed drawing rooms have been known to favour Cloon Keen’s Antique Library candle.
Mark and David Van den Bergh
Photography; Suzy McCanny
Brothers Mark and David Van den Bergh are the creative and business forces behind Max Benjamin, which produces candles, diffusers and bath and body sets. Named after their nephews, the company is one of Ireland’s most successful and well-known home fragrance brands. The candles are handmade at their studios in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow from pure natural waxes with lead-free Italian cotton wicks. The scented candle market might be competitive, but Max Benjamin’s keen price point (candles start at €22) makes theirs an affordable luxury. The coffee scented range, released last year, has already reached iconic status.
The CEO of Brooke & Shoals has built her business out of Greystones via Grasse in France, the capital of fragrance, where she travelled for inspiration and knowledge. Alison’s candles, diffusers, and natural body range were originally only sold in her Co Wicklow shop, but demand for her creations saw her grow the business, with her products increasingly available in the UK and Europe. Alison has also extended her product portfolio to now include a collection of Brooke & Shoals perfumes, launched in May of this year.
Ellen Kavanagh Jones
Waxing is big business in Ireland, for a growing number of men as well as women, and Ellen Kavanagh Jones, the CEO and founder of Waxperts, has been in the vanguard of hair removal since her early days working as a therapist in Dublin. With a strong visual identity and luxurious surroundings, Ellen opened one of Ireland’s specialist wax salons in 2008. She subsequently developed her own “single dip” technique and formulated Waxperts Wax, an award-winning professional flexible wax and product line. The range is found in over 500 salons in Ireland as well as in the UK, Poland, Iceland and the US. A major expansion is planned for 2017.
His training is in fashion and beauty, but make-up artist Tom McInerney, who attended Dun Laoghaire’s College of Art and Design, is much lauded for his special effects work in TV and film. With credits including Titanic: Blood & Steel and The Tudors (for which he shared the IFTA 2011 Best Makeup and Hair award with Dee Corcoran), his recent work on the TV series Vikings is the perfect medium for the blood, guts and drama for which Tom has become celebrated.
From her beginnings as a model to her 20-year career as a make-up artist, Paula Callan knows the beauty business inside out. She established Brown Sugar with former husband Mark O’Keeffe, and the Callanberry Academy (and award-winning brushes) with fellow makeup artist Derrick Carberry. Callan & Co, her Ballsbridge “experience” salon, opened in May and offers every conceivable beauty treatment, from hair to tans and massage to HD brows, under one roof and in a very beautiful space.
For Haute hair, Michael Leong is many designers’ and fashion editors’ first choice, at home and internationally. Highly in demand, his dance card is very full, and it’s the lucky bride who gets to book him for her big day. Originally from Malaysia, he moved to Ireland to study medicine, when a sign for part time staff in the window of Peter Mark caught his eye. Now, his CV includes work for Dior, Stella McCartney, and Roland Mouret, as well as multiple successful commercial campaigns.
The Irish beauty industry’s loss was Hollywood’s gain when makeup artist Fiona Connon left her career in Dublin, where she worked with many of Europe’s top models, to move into film. Her portfolio includes work on the Gene Hackman movie, Behind Enemy Lines, and The Omen, starring Liev Schreiber and Mia Farrow. She’s also been the personal make-up artist to Owen Wilson, working on many of his films including Wedding Crashers. Married to Die Hard director John Moore, with whom she has a son, Buzz, Fiona’s latest artistry can be seen in the Moore-directed Pierce Brosnan film, IT, out later this autumn.
Peter Keaveney and Mark Keaveney
Can you say cutting edge? The brothers who founded the Peter Mark hairdressing empire started snipping hair in the 1950s. They opened their first salon in 1961 and subsequently developed the brand into one of Ireland’s best-known and most successful Irish beauty brands, tending to the tresses of Ireland’s sleek fashion pack. Peter and Mark have always pioneered in terms of styling, product, technique and salon design. The Grafton Street flagship is famous for continually evolving and leading the collection of 71 Peter Mark salons, including the creative hub that is Style Club on Dublin’s South William Street.