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22nd Jul 2015

Meet the Mumpreneurs: Sinead Duffy, founder of Yogandha oils

Multi-tasking mum of two and yoga teacher, Sinead Duffy is the founder of Yogandha, a cool new Irish brand of wellness and beauty aromatherapy oils.

So, what’s Yogandha all about?

Originally designed as Aromatherapy pre-yoga oils to enhance your practice – depending on the oil you choose, to soothe, envigorate or as a muscle relaxant, but the oils can be used for everyday use on the body for moods, the nervous system, the emotions, the hormonal system, the skin, the immune system, after exercise and baths.

There are three wellness rollerballs you can use on your pressure points: Uplifting, relaxing and balancing – which is great for balancing hormones, as a uterine tonic and post-natally as it’s packed with Jasmine. And three massage oils. My neighbour did the packaging, which we won an award for at the ICADs last year.

How did you set up your business?

My background is in Philosophy and Human Rights, and from that I got into yoga. I was hooked after one class and went to India to do my teacher training and brought my own aromatherapy oils with me. I felt the symbiosis between aromatherapy and our own bodies – the chemicals interacting on a deep level. I really got the concept and the effect of plants and nature on the mind. When I came back, I used the products in my classes – my students loved them and asked me to make them properly as there was nothing like them on the market.

I spent three years meditating and blending. I didn’t plan to, but it just happened. The whole story is a completely organic happening of one thing after another. I think when you’re working with nature you tap into that force; you just trust it and go with it.

What was the tipping point?

The products went out quite quickly in the yoga community – we’re in 13 countries now – but in the last year we managed to get into Liberty London just by sending them an email; we had no personal contacts. Harvey Nichols was the same – we’re in all eight stores now.

Getting into Liberty was the tipping point as it suddenly moved us. I had always perceived this as a wellness brand, but my intention was to try to bridge the gap between wellness and beauty. Aromatherapy is so easy and so quick, and that’s what I love. You put them on and immediately feel good.

Any obstacles along the way?

Building a brand when we’re such a small team. In Harvey Nichols, the products sit beside the Trilogy and REN powerhouses who have huge marketing budgets. I don’t have a commercial background, so that’s a very steep learning curve for me.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known at the start?

I don’t think I would have done it any other way; I really don’t. I just go with my gut. I’m totally trusting a process.

What are the benefits of working for yourself?

Just the excitement; absolute excitement. I do have a small team now but even with them I go in and say, “Right, what will we do today? What do you feel like doing?” I love that flexibility. The team is really involved in steering the ship, and I love that.

And the drawbacks?

Long hours. I’m lucky to have a meditation practice and a yoga practice as that kind of keeps me sane, but a lot falls on my husband. He does all the cooking (lucky he can cook). A lot falls onto everybody really. I do have to lean on people, so that is hard. I rely on a lot of play dates and on the kindness of friends.

How do you balance such a busy schedule?

It’s difficult. My husband is in Ethiopia at the moment; he works for Christina Aid and does awesome stuff, so travels a good bit. My kids are aged eight and ten, so they’re a little bit bigger, and they’re self-starters, but they do know they’re missing out a little bit on time with me. I used to teach baby massage, so I do a lot of massage with the kids, and I find it’s like a tardis of time – you give your kids ten minutes, but it’s a massage, so it’s worth an hour. It’s quality time.

What advice would you give a wannabe entrepreneur?

Just to go for it, trust your heart and keep on keeping on. Trust your gut absolutely 100 per cent. I’m very lucky that authenticity and heart are rated nowadays. When you do things from the depth of your soul people dig that. A lot of people have tried to steer me into different things that would be more commercial, but I’ve always known that it just doesn’t resonate with me.

What’s next for you?

Brand building. Get the brand out there, it’s still so small. It’s all handmade by me in Dún Laoghaire, and my dad does the bottling… and we’re in Harvey Nichols. There are possibly plans for new products, but we’ll just have to see what’s the right way to go next.

Yogandha Oils Picture Conor McCabe Photography