We talked to Dr. Joan de Lacey, founder of The Irish Rose Essential Oil Company, about maintaining a work-life balance, Cork’s entrepreneurial support systems and the joys of working in the spectacular West Cork landscape.
My name is Joan de Lacey and my startup is the Irish Rose Essential Oil Company. My background is in organic horticulture, my indulgence is roses and my preference is for natural products. One day when filling a wheelbarrow full of rose petals the idea for the Irish Rose Essential Oil Company was born. The roses are grown without pesticides and are hand-picked to be single distilled to preserve the exquisite scent and anti-aging properties of the rose in a pure natural rose water and rose oil.
What is your vision for the Irish Rose Essential Oil Company?
Rose oil is a vital ingredient in the perfume industry. The global market for perfume is predicted to rise to 46 Billion by 2018 whilst production of rose oil has declined. This offers an unprecedented opportunity. Currently numbering over 1000 roses, within 5 years the aim is for the Irish Rose Essential Oil Company plantation to grow up to 10 acres of 40,000 roses producing 40,000 litres of rose water and 10kg of rose oil.
What have been your biggest hurdles as an entrepreneur, and how did you get over them?
The biggest hurdle has been balancing the need to support my family whilst continuing to develop a fledgling business. It is a case of prioritising; certain deadlines have to be met whilst others rescheduled. I was hoping to move from the ‘kitchen sink’ to my new commercial still, however I have had to let the building I was hoping to use as a distillery which means I have to delay the distilling until the Autumn.
A strong faith that everything will work out, really helps. I also remind myself of times when I had difficult problems to solve in the past and how persistence always brings success in the end.
What are your views on entrepreneurship in Cork?
There are outstanding opportunities and support in Cork for entrepreneurs.I previously spent a year abroad but decided to come back to Ireland. I made the right decision. Within a month of arriving back, I had been accepted on to the Exxcel Programme for Women Entrepreneurs at the Rubicon Centre, CIT. I am so grateful for the support of the Rubicon mentors and the business training during those early months – they kept me focused.
The support network in Cork from business experts and researchers at the Nimbus Centre CIT, Cork BIC, UCC Blackstone Launchpad and events organised by Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices and Cork Chamber of Commerce ensures that entrepreneurs are able to explore, develop and fund their ideas.
It is possible to combine a great life balance through having easy access to the services needed to run a successful business, whilst living in one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland, as shown by the recent launch of the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen, Co. Cork. Most importantly it is the positive attitude to entrepreneurship as a career choice, which makes Cork an excellent location to succeed in business.
What motivates you – in other words – why do you do what you do?
The landscape of West Cork inspires me every day. It is so unspoilt and incredibly beautiful. It is only when you leave and come back that you appreciate it. I want to be a part of this place, to look after it and protect it forever. Planting roses is like painting a picture, caring for them is like nurturing a child and distilling them is a magical process.
If I could capture the essence of this place in a bottle for others to experience I would, and if I can achieve that I will be truly fulfilled.