How I Got My Job: Paul Mooney Is Building A Cosmetics Empire, One Contouring Palette At A Time
Paul's the brains behind Flormar Ireland and Flawless, and he let us in on some of his business know-how.
Name: Paul Mooney
What I do: CEO of Flormar Ireland and creator of Flawless
Starting a business at the height of the recession – and leaving a full-time job to do so, – is a risky move whatever way you look at it. But Paul Mooney’s in the habit of taking risks, and so far they’ve all paid off countless times over. Starting out with a background in sales but no cosmetics knowledge whatsoever, Paul turned a favour for a friend into a successful business plan, and now runs two cosmetics brands in tandem: the Irish arm of Flormar, and his own brand, Flawless, which is currently in the launching stage. Flormar are one of the key sponsors of this year’s STELLAR Shine Awards, and before they kick off we got a look behind-the-scenes at Paul’s mini cosmetics empire.
How did you get your start in the world of cosmetics?
I fell into it totally unexpectedly around six years ago. A friend of mine was about to emigrate to Australia and asked me to help her get rid of some of the leftover stock at her beauty salon before she closed it up. I was working as a sales manager for a building provider at the time so I had the sales experience, but definitely not the cosmetics knowledge. My friend needed the help though, so I thought I’d give it a shot. What started as a dig-out soon became something I loved, and six years later here I am with two brands on the go and a team that’s growing every day!
Was it tough starting out in an industry you didn’t know much about?
I’ve self-educated myself in cosmetics and skincare products. Back at the start I’d spend hours reading magazines and going to workshops, speaking to make-up artists, going to training days and trying to soak up every bit of information that I could.
You’re a man in what is primarily a woman’s world. Has that ever been an obstacle for you?
I’m all for equality in business, and I think it goes both ways, for both genders. The term ‘girlboss’ is used in the media a lot, but to me it’s not about defining someone by their gender. If you put your mind to something and you work hard, why shouldn’t you succeed? Yes, the cosmetics industry is female dominated, but I set out with Flormar last year and it’s now stocked in 300 Irish pharmacies with sales growing every week, plus I have another brand in the pipeline too. That has to stand for something!
What drew you to Flormar’s products initially?
Flormar was in Ireland before with another company but not enough was done to promote it, so it didn’t take off in the way that it could have. In my own shop though, we were selling tonnes of it and people kept coming back, so I knew there was a market there. I decided to take on Flormar and become the official Irish supplier, knowing in the back of my head it would be a great way to get experience before setting up my own brand. The two ideas grew in tandem, because I was able to find one distributor for both brands, one with a good footing in lots of Irish pharmacies.
What’s involved in making your own products, from start to finish?
The first thing for me was to find the right manufacturer, which took around 14 months. There are so many factories out there and there’s a lot of overlap with different companies. Finally I found the right match for Flawless, and it’s been all go since then. The eyeshadow palettes we’re launching at the moment were 15 months in the making. I’m very particular about how things should look, how the product feels and how it looks when applied. All of those things mean that customers can trust that they’re getting a high quality product.
I love the creative side of the role, listening to customers and finding out what people want. Social media is huge for me, I engage with lots of our customers that way. You can’t please everyone, but listening to people has made planning each new product much easier. I started my business in the recession when everyone out there was broke, so affordability has always been a priority for me, as well as having high quality products.
You started in business at a very shaky time for the Irish economy. That must have been daunting?
Very! I was terrified. My parents were a huge support financially at the beginning, which was a godsend because a business loan from the bank wasn’t an option. I started paying them back in small amounts as time went on. I didn’t have the banks breathing down my neck like some of my other friends in business did, but at the time time there was added pressure because I didn’t want to let my family down.
What are your words to live by, career-wise?
I firmly believe that businesses should aim to re-create themselves all the time. I not only thinking about today or next week in terms of planning, but next year too. If something doesn’t work out, I move on. Going into business by yourself is a risk, but once you have your eyes wide open, you’ll be okay.
What’s a day in your life like?
This morning I started at 2am, speaking with the manufacturer for Flawless who is based in China. I went back to sleep around 3.30am and was up again at 7am prepping for a morning meeting. After that I was in the office working on some marketing for Flawless, speaking to our distributor about a new shipment of palettes and meeting with my team to plan logistics for the next few months. Later I have an evening meeting with my accountant which will probably go on until 9.30pm. My schedule is manic every day but I love what I do, which helps. I worked for long enough in a job I wasn’t happy in. Life’s too short to spend every day doing something that doesn’t excite you. I fell onto this path but chance, but I’ve never looked back. It’s true what they say: if you work in a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
We’ll be on Facebook Live, Instagram and Twitter throughout the STELLAR Shine Awards this Wednesday November 16th. Follow us @stellarmagazine using the hashtag #ShineAwards2016!