Having been involved in the family business for 16 years, supplying peat to mushroom growers, Maria Prunty was no stranger to getting mucked in. However with the mushroom industry in decline and already saturated with other peat suppliers, Maria knew the business needed to diversify. A meeting with her Invest Northern Ireland client executive around the same time led to an enterprising light bulb moment!
Having read a magazine article about peat being imported into Northern Ireland for spa mud treatments Maria realised that she had found the niche market she was looking for.
“I was looking for an alternative market to branch into and more importantly something I was passionate about,” says Maria. “The magazine article made me realise that the answer was right under my feet! The type of peat I had sitting at the very bottom of the bog which had no economic value for horticulture was so old and decomposed it could be easily ground into a mud. This concept turned a previously unsuitable resource into a valuable new commodity”
Maria then consulted with Invest NI and worked out a business plan. Together with her client executive they identified a specialist peat scientist from Finland – the world’s leading experts in peat, who could help her put her idea into action. Working to a set of quality guidelines, the scientific results showed that her peat was very high quality and suitable for peat balneotherapy, a natural detoxifying mud bath beauty treatment.
Working with a commercial chemist a range of innovative and affordable anti-ageing face and body creams was developed, taking the key actives from the peat, which lent themselves to anti aging products.
In order to help finance this start up business Maria applied to Invest Northern Ireland’s Propel programme. The programme helped her to get the products to the market place in a more effective and structured manner. Maria’s business, Prunty Beauty is now selling products online and her range is currently on trial in a number of spas, including a new Spa at Colebrook - the location of the peat bog itself.
“Invest NI helped me look at the business from a different perspective and prompted me to think about the export market much sooner than I would have. They encouraged networking and focused my mind on what steps I needed to take in a more organised way, helping me to overcome hurdles instead of letting them be a stumbling block”