Interviewed by Edna Trogen for CP Magazine
Shirley Conlon, founder and owner of Shirley Conlon Organics, was born into an Irish family and influenced by her studies in the UK and Australia. Shirley has developed a special range of organic skincare that is perfect for hotter climates.
With your roots in the UK and Ireland how did you end up in Dubai?
I followed love to Dubai. My husband was opening offices in Dubai and Shanghai. We decided on Dubai over Shanghai as I had been coming to this part of the world since I was a child (my sister is married to a national). I absolutely love living in Dubai.
Being a busy business woman and a married woman with children, do you get time for yourself to go to a spa or gym?
I include my kids in everything I do. We do Cosmic Kids Yoga and meditation together which often ends in fits of giggles. For spa time, I call home services and we enjoy that as a family. Living in Dubai makes it all so easy
How did you begin your journey with skincare?
I trained as a beauty therapist and particularly loved the facial side of things.
Whilst working as a freelance facialist in London, I was offered a job with a distribution company in Italy where I was responsible for brand placement and staff training on luxury high-end niche products throughout the north of Europe. This was when I became more curious about the ingredients side of things.
What is your background? Have you always worked in the skincare industry?
Most of my life has been around skincare but I also worked in real estate in Chelsea, London for five years whilst freelancing as a facialist. It was through this that I got my job offer in Italy with the skincare company.
What inspires you and why?
I am very inspired by nature and by my family. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful large family with a countryside upbringing. I really appreciate nature and believe it holds the key to most of today’s ailments. My family is very hard working and inspires me a lot.
What are the key ingredients of your formulas?
Love and passion! I believe in being passionate about everything I do. If the passion and energy are not there, the results will not come. On a scientific basis we use only certified organic food grade ingredients from nature and we have a no -tolerance policy on harmful chemicals. This is the essence of who we are.
0f all your products, if you would need to choose one, what would it be? Which one is your bestseller?
I personally love the Hydrating Serum with Argan, pumpkin, q10 and Omani frankincense. It’s so hydrating and I’m fascinated by the medicinal benefits behind this fabulous essential oil found only in Oman. Our Rosehip Oil (nicknamed Botox in a bottle) is our best seller and has been voted ‘best beauty buy’ by several magazines in Dubai. I love the way this transforms and repairs sun exposed skin.
How is Dubai, in terms of having your own lab and developing your own brand? Have you found any difficulties in the process?
Dubai has very stringent rules and regulations on manufacturing and they expect anything that states ‘made in Dubai’ to be over and above exceptional. In order for a product to say organic, I needed to present all documentation and certifications. We are GMP approved and ISO accredited and our lab is inspected by Dubai Municipality on a regular basis.
How is it to combine family life and work in the Middle East?
Finding balance is not always easy when working for yourself but I try to keep a healthy balance between family and work. We always make time for date nights and we have a family tradition on Thursday evenings where no technology is allowed – only board games and stories.
Do you teach your kids how to take care of their skin from a young age?
Absolutely! They are both aware of good habits in skincare and diet. They are very curious about the effects ingredients have on both the skin and the environment. My kids love massages and facials and love to experiment with ingredients. My eldest daughter makes fabulous deodorants, lip scrubs and bath bombs.
How are you with social media? Are you active on Facebook and Instagram with your brand?
Yes we are active on both platforms and try to keep things interesting for our audience. However, I must admit, I am old-school and prefer direct contact and conversation than spend time on technology.
I read on your page of organic skincare that you started your journey with a simplistic line of pure ingredients. Could you tell us about a simple routine of yours? Any advice or tips to keep in mind?
Purity is key; the higher quality the ingredients, the better the results will be. We use only cold pressed certified organic botanicals in our products.
It’s about keeping a simple routine. In the evening I cleanse with Olive and Castor Bean Cleansing Milk and finish with Rosewater and Aloe Toner followed by a Serum (either Rosehip or Hydrating). I don’t like to wear creams at night as they disrupt the skins natural detox process. The skin cannot eliminate toxins if there is a cream applied but our bodies naturally accept oils as they are more like our own sebum. An eye cream is also very important at night and I am loving our new Eye and Lip Cream.
A gentle cleanse in the morning followed by Fountain of Youth Face Cream and sometimes a little make-up. My hat is my sunscreen and I aim to take sunshine everyday as my skin and soul feel fabulous afterwards. I believe we need sensible sun exposure to maintain healthy glowing skin.
Your skincare is available in some salons in Dubai. Where can we find them in Kuwait? Can we buy them on the internet?
For the moment we are focusing on our online presence and finalizing our new website where we offer worldwide shipping. A good distribution channel is our next journey and we are looking for some good collaboration worldwide.
What are your plans for this summer? Where do you go to get away from the heat in Dubai?
I have already escaped the heat and am currently buried deep in the Irish countryside. It’s all about fresh air and long walks. For me it’s a paradise and I want my children to experience the simplicity of Irish life, the green, the music, the hospitality – and the rain!
We will spend some of the summer in our home in beautiful Venice, my husband’s hometown.
This article originally appeared in CP Magazine, July 2017
CP Magazine, July 2017