Q&A Series: Alison Banton of Brooke & Shoals Fragrances
Guaranteed Irish member Brooke & Shoals Fragrances is a small and enthusiastic fragrance company with global ambitions. We sat down with Alison Banton, founder and CEO of Brooke & Shoals, to learn more about her experience running the company and the values that keep her moving the brand forward.
How did the Brooke & Shoals Fragrances come about?
I started the company in 2010 during the height of the recession. I was selling my small collection of scented candles in my own shop in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, and other retailers started asking if they could sell them too. At a time when banks weren’t lending money for business expansion, it took hard work and creativity to grow the company on a shoestring budget! But I really believed in my dream. I knew that my Greystones customers loved my products, so even though I realised that scaling up the business would be a challenging journey, I was confident that it would work.
What all has Brooke & Shoals achieved in the last few years?
Success for the company now consists of 300 carefully-selected retail partner stockists in Ireland, including high-profile partners such as House of Fraser and Meadows & Byrne. Since consumer brands require a strong base to ensure credibility in export markets, we spent the first few years establishing the brand well in Ireland before setting our sights to overseas. Then in the last few years we started to partner with a number of European distributors to expand the brand presence in European markets. So we are now exporting to a number of countries! We currently employ 8 people and we plan to double this over the next few years as we continue to expand.
What do you think is the key to your brand’s popularity?
The key so far has been high quality ingredients that are manufactured with integrity in Ireland, eye-catching packaging, and fabulous fragrance blends. These features are coupled with a price range that positions the brand as premium but affordable. There are now over 50 products in the collection and 12 different fragrance blends covering scented candles, fragrance diffusers and body products. We have won 8 awards for our products over the last 3 years, an achievement that we are really proud of!
What drives you as a business owner?
I have quite a lot of entrepreneurial energy and a huge passion for what I do, so that has always helped me drive the brand forward despite being a busy working Mum with two daughters! I love what I do, and that keeps me going even at the times when juggling work and family life pushes me to my limits. I want to be a good role model for my girls so that they grow up to be independent and creative young women with a belief that they can achieve anything if they want it badly enough and work hard to get it.
Why did Brooke & Shoals decide to become a member of Guaranteed Irish?
I am deeply passionate about creating sustainable Irish jobs and supporting Irish provenance, so I feel that the Guaranteed Irish symbol is key to showing this to my customers. I feel that many companies do not embrace these same values, and try to pass off their imported items as truly Irish-made. So by proudly displaying the Guaranteed Irish symbol, I feel that I am able to differentiate my product from these competitors and to communicate to my customers that they are supporting a bona fide Irish manufacturer when they buy my products.
What’s next for Brooke & Shoals?
In 2019 we are looking to expand our brand in the US market, which is an exciting adventure for us! I feel that the quality of our range and the credibility that our Irish manufacturing gives us will certainly help us with this journey.
When you purchase a product from a Guaranteed Irish company, you are supporting a business which is committed to Irish jobs, local communities and Irish provenance. So, remember to #SupportGI in 2019!
Find out more about our members at www.guaranteedirish.ie