"Mum was a very earthy, sweet lady who always inspired me"

A DUNBOYNE business woman says her 93-year-old mother who used natural remedies on her and her eleven siblings when she was a child inspired her to start her own organic skincare range during lockdown.

Like many Barbara McAteer's life took a detour when the pandemic forced her to give up her job as a holistic therapist providing treatments to people with special needs but the transition allowed her to explore another avenue that had been passionate about since childhood.

Having seen the benefits of using her own specially mixed products on clients during treatments, Barbara used the time to experiment further and created Josie's Botanicals, named in honour of her mother who was the driving force behind the Dunboyne's woman's passion for natural alternatives.

Speaking about how her mother instilled the idea that remedies closer to nature were always best, Barbara said:

"Growing up in a large Irish family we had a very simple life. Mum was from Co Cavan and our dad Jimmy from Donegal but most of us were born in Kildallen, Co Cavan.

"Mum was always a very earthy, sweet lady who always inspired me, particularly with home made remedies and cures which always seemed to work a treat.

“She grew herbs in the garden and used them as teas and was always reading lots about herbalism and telling her children and grandchildren all about the medicinal benefits.

Josie's Botanicals was born out of Barbara's "simple" life growing up

Barbara and her siblings would experience ways to heal naturally growing up rather than always turning to traditional medicine as she explains:

"She would have, and still does at 93, her green tea in the morning, her peppermint tea in the afternoon and camomile tea at night for their health benefits.

"We used dock leaves to cure nettle stings, a dock rhyme we used to say when rubbing was “Dockin, Dockin in and out, take the sting of the nettle out!"

"We'd have gripe water always at hand which was used as a remedy for colic and stomach upsets in babies. It's a mixture of water, baking soda, and herbs such as dill, fennel, lemon balm and ginger.

"We always got cod liver oil for our tummy upsets and barley water for our chest ailments.

"She collected nettles sometimes which were very good detox for the immune system and my sister Aine who was a macrobiotic chef would sometimes make delicious nettle pesto.

"I remember picking elderberry flowers with her while walking in the countryside and we infused them for tea.

Barbara used the opportunity in lockdown to focus on her passion of natural skincare in her workshop at her home.

"I had spent twelve years working in the community working with people with disabilities prior to lockdown.

"I didn't have this plan to start my own business but lockdown brought me on a whole career change.

"I have been teaching a course for the past fifteen years called the natural facial showing people how to do a luxurious facial and how to make some of their own natural skincare but I have really expanded the brand in lockdown because I had so much more time on my hands.

"Meath Partnership were very good they gave me a leader grant to buy equipment and through the enterprise board I got the online voucher that helps with website development.

" I was coming across more and more people whilst I was doing facials who had problematic skin and my passion for creating just came from wanting to help people to repair their skin.

" I saw much better results when I starting to blend really raw, pure, organic ingredients together and just keeping it really simple. I Kept on going and people started wanting to buy them and it just built up naturally from there."

The passionate holistic therapist says there is much more than just aesthetic benefits from embracing organic skin care.

"I think there is very much a mind, body, spirit feeling with natural products, it's not just the skin benefits you see with them, I've worked with people with additional needs and I have seen the uplifting benefits from using nourishing ingredients and bringing the aromatherapy and essential oils into it I think it's good for the mind.

"The skin understands what we get from nature more, I think the chemicals disrupt the structure and disrupt the skin, the skin is a natural organ and I really believe that natural ingredients and natural substances work in harmony with the skin."

Barbara's followers recently raised €800 for St Francis Hospice in Dublin via a competition on her social media page.

"I wanted to give something back to the wonderful people at St. Francis Hospice who really do incredible work and create loving and respectful palliative care for those in their final stages of life. My initial target was to sell 30 tickets and raise €300, however I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my followers."