This Christmas, we want to support small Irish businesses that are trying to survive a tumultuous year. And it’s nothing but a pleasure to order gifts from Flying Wild, a tiny eco-conscious venture based in Co Tipperary run by Arno Schouwenburg. He makes beautiful organic balms for wellbeing treatments, supplying holistic and massage therapists mainly in Ireland and the UK, but also beyond, in the US, Canada and several EU countries. He keeps bees and uses the raw honey and natural beeswax for the products, which include a wide range of massage balms, from Menopause blend, with clary sage and geranium, to reflexology blends with frankincense (perfect for this time of year), from €8.50, with most around €15. You’ll also find beautiful and very fairly priced skincare oils, from €9.50 – so much more beautiful than many that cost three times as much. The packaging is simple, but the quality is sky-high.
Having given up a career in publishing, Shouwenburg lives and breathes his bee-centred beauty business. While his holistic therapist clients really love the products, this year has obviously been challenging, with salons closed so fewer orders. “Everything will be fine again in a while, and in many ways the year has taught me many valuable lessons about running a business,” he says. “There are so many fantastic small businesses really struggling and it is very sad to see the growing number of empty places left by the ones that have not made it. Every one of them carries hopes and dreams – they are there because of unbelievable levels of investment, commitment and hard work, and a simple refusal by the people behind them to give up.”
Jenny Faison of Calm Beauty, now based in Drumcondra, first put me on to Arno’s balms, as she uses them for her excellent massage treatments (book in now for January and beyond at www.calmbeauty.ie). My current favourites are the Rose Geranium hand balm, a really nourishing texture with a naturally beautiful fragrance, and the Foot Balm: put this gently minty wonder ointment on your feet before bed, sleep in socks and wake up to feet that are so soft they don’t feel like your own. These two are available in a set for €33.50.
With all the balms, use a small amount on a regular basis for best results, advises Shouwenburg. I’m excited to see what he creates next. He is currently working on a range of creams for reflexology treatments, and then plans to create skincare creams. “Rather than using water (most creams are 50 to 70 per cent water) I am basing the creams on organic floral waters – the cream is really infused with the properties of the floral waters so they are very nice. There is a lot of work to do before these are ready, but they will certainly be coming in the new year.” Watch this space…
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