Ethos adds health supplement to CBD range


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Ethos adds health supplement to CBD range
Ethos adds health supplement to CBD range

Business and life partners Fergus Kerrigan and Amy O’Flaherty started out making CBD products and have pivoted to energy and wellness supplements. They tell Arlene Harris about their struggle to find funding, developing their Ethos firm, and working as a couple

Life is stressful, and work can be even more so, and Fergus Kerrigan and Amy O’Flaherty have made it their mission to tackle stress with a new supplement.

The new product, Resilience, is a pivot for the founders, who started their Ethos business with a focus on selling CBD products. The duo are persevering with their CBD enterprise, even if at times the cannabis connection has resulted in frustration, if not outright stress.

“We launched three years ago as a CBD brand, so those products are our babies and are doing great for us,” says Amy. “They have been successful both online and in retail and we’ve landed some incredible contracts with big retailers, so they’ve been a real vehicle of growth.

“Our biggest challenge along the way has been getting support, even though we qualify for it from our Local Enterprise Office, because state agencies will not back any business with CBD products because it is under the cannabis umbrella,” Amy explains.

“This is quite unfair as we employ locally, reinvest back into the local economy and use Irish suppliers, so it has been a challenge and it’s a shame to be honest. Despite that, we’ve had financial success and have been able to reinvest back into the business.”

Amy adds that marketing opportunities for Ethos have been limited as many platforms don’t allow the advertising of CBD products. “We do a good bit of podcast sponsorship, which has been highly effective for us. I’m a fan of quality over quantity so we invest in our own content and build meaningful connections with our target audience through our own channels with content marketing.”

Fergus Kerrigan (33) started out down the law route, and worked in a few law firms in Dublin before moving to San Francisco to do the same there.

“I realised that it wasn’t really for me and that if I wasn’t enjoying it then I never would, as it didn’t really suit my personality,” he recalls. “I decided to leave that career path and enrol in the Smurfit Business School at UCD. I did a course in strategic management, which set me up for applying for some of the consulting firms.

“I got a job with Accenture and worked there for three years. It was a great experience and then I moved to Deloitte to work in their digital team. I was there for two years, but always had a plan to start my own business and had a lengthy list of potential ideas, which for one reason or other never got off the ground.”

Six years ago, Fergus began to experience chronic fatigue, and despite several visits to his GP the symptoms became worse. After meeting a doctor who focused on holistic medicine, the entrepreneur made some lifestyle changes and was introduced to different supplements, including CBD.

He was soon back to his full health and had the idea to create Irish products which would help people who were struggling with stress and poor sleep patterns. “That was the start of Ethos, and Amy and I have been on quite the journey since then,” he adds.

Business and life partner Amy O’Flaherty, who is also a graduate of Smurfit Business School, says that three and a half years in the Ethos business is doing well.

“We’ve had over 100% growth year-on-year, so it’s all positive on that front,” she says. “Last year we were focused on developing a new website, a new brand platform, and investing in new products, and this year the focus is on selling. This year we are trying to get out to market and increase our sales channels by moving beyond health food stores and pharmacies and going after supermarket retail as well.”

There is also the new product, Ethos Resilience, a sachet powder with a price point of €49.50. The orange-flavour drink is billed as all-in-one nutritional blend with optimum levels of vitamins, nutrients and adaptogens. The promise is that Resilience can help manage stress, boost energy, improve cognitive performance and strengthen immunity.

“We set out knowing we wanted to develop a daily supplement to support the body’s stress response, and subsequently support the immune system, cognitive function and energy levels – an all-in-one for the busy person,” says Amy.

“It needed to be a supplement that we would genuinely love and take ourselves every single day. Being convenient was key, so a morning drink was the priority format, as people can forget to take capsules.

“Like all of our products, Fergus started by specifying ingredients that are clinically proven to provide the desired benefits, like B vitamins, aminos acids and Magnesium Bisglycinate. Then he worked with our nutritional therapist to research the latest innovations to really bolster the product and give it a competitive edge.”

This, says Amy, is where the adaptogens come in – Reishi Mushroom, Tulsi Herb and Ashwagandha. “We ended up with a wish list of sorts and put our brief out to tender to partner labs,” she explains.

“Our partner lab in Spain were able to develop the product based on our custom formula and offered the highest-grade ingredients, including Kerry Group’s Wellmune. The lab conducted various trials including flavour variations over a period of nine months.”

Ethos Reslience has price point of €49.50

Ethos Resilience has a blood orange flavour, similar to a Supersplit ice cream, a flavour that complements breakfast or morning coffee and is subtle enough to be added to a protein shake.

“When we researched with customers and retailers, most said they were buying their monthly multivitamin sachets and a second product to help reduce stress,” says Amy. “People were spending anywhere from €60 to €80 per month on their two products. With Resilience we’ve combined these two in one for under €50. I don’t know anyone else offering a product with a formula as comprehensive as ours.”

For many people, working with their spouse may be a contributing factor to raised stress levels, but this entrepreneurial couple insist that their combined work and home life is beneficial for both of them.

“The thing which stands out the most is being able to make quick business decisions, unlike some work structures where you have to go through so many discussion to get a decision made. This means we can be truly responsive to our customers,” says Amy, the Ethos brand director.

“Another benefit is that we are really able to take ownership of our lives and strike a good balance in terms of work and personal life. The fact that we’re in it together definitely offers a level of flexibility to be able enjoy our free time together, as we’re on the same schedule.

“There are also some cons. We talk about our business 80% of the time, which is probably not ideal. Also, the fact that we’re both entrepreneurs can be risky in terms of finances and financial goals. We have to be very strategic about spending and saving, and we don’t have the support we would have if one of us was in full-time employment.

“Because we are both tied in financially, we are dedicated to making it a success. It’s pretty hectic but we absolutely love the business and wouldn’t change our situation for the world.”

Photo: Ethos partners Fergus Kerrigan and Amy O’Flaherty

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