For this week’s Spotlight On feature, we chatted to Irish sisters and BiaBelle founders Bláthnaid and Aoibhinn Murphy.
The beauty influencers launched their luxury cosmetics and tan brand with their mother Susan Murphy in December 2017, after combining their knowledge and expertise in makeup and business.
During an exclusive interview with Goss.ie, Bláthnaid and Aoibhinn opened up about how their business came to be, and what it’s like working with family.
1. How did you come up with the idea for BiaBelle?
Bláthnaid: It was actually our Mam who came up with the idea, the three of us do it together. Our mam likes to stay in the background; she doesn’t like us to mention her but we always do! She actually does so much that people don’t see so it really is all of us together.
Our mam came up with the idea, I suppose because our social media accounts were growing and we wanted to do something with that. Myself and Aoibh have always wanted to have our own business. Our parents both did, so I guess we just wanted to follow in their footsteps.
I had the makeup background, Aoibhinn is the boss bitch, and then our mam has a background in accounting and that side of things so we just put all of our strengths together to create BiaBelle.
2. Who came up with the name for the company?
Bláthnaid: Aoibhinn came up with that.
Aoibhinn: We were brainstorming for so long trying to get a name because obviously we wanted it to be perfect. We went through so many! We always loved the idea of alliteration, we just thought that’d be really pretty.
‘Belle’ means ‘beautiful’ so it just came into my head and when I said it I was like “ah that’s really pretty!”
Bláthnaid: The minute she said it to us, we all just knew that that was it. It just felt right!
3. What made you decide to bite the bullet and launch the brand?
Aoibhinn: So when our mam came up with the idea, I was just finished college and I found myself out of work – not knowing what I was doing. I really didn’t want to get into the field I had just gotten my degree in, so I was really at a loss.
So when mam suggested it I was like “YES!”, and Bláthnaid jumped at the idea of it too because it’s her passion. I had nothing really else to do at the time so we all dove head first into it.
Bláthnaid: It just became our life!
4. You guys mentioned you have always had a love for beauty and makeup. Tell me more about that.
Bláthnaid: I studied beauty and body therapy and I did a course as well. So when I was 15, I always knew I wanted to be a makeup artist or have my own makeup line. When I was in primary school, I wanted to own a hair salon. When I went into secondary school, it changed to makeup. I knew that was all I wanted to do.
So when I got to 4th year, I was 15, my mam was like, ‘Why don’t you do a makeup course on the side because you have a way more free time?’ I enrolled myself into a part time course, a 26 week course. At the time you had to be 16 to do it, but I was only 15 so I had to go for a meeting with the head of the college to make sure I really wanted to do it.
They let me in and I did that but it was more of a beginner course or upskilling your own makeup. I learned from it anyway and then when I was 17, I got the job at Inglot and that’s when it all took off.
5. People say working with family can be difficult – do you find that it’s impacted on your relationship?
Aoibhinn: We all have completely different strengths so when we work together, we actually work really really well as a team. So we don’t really crossover.
Like Bláthnaid is the beauty and creative, I would be more the organiser and my mam is like the finance side of things so we all have our individual aspects so I think that really helps. If me and Blathnaid were both the creative we would obviously not get along – it just would not work!
Bláthnaid: It is hard sometimes because when you’re family, you’re not scared to say exactly how you feel or whatever you think. That also ensures we get the best product though because we are so honest with the feedback.
6. Have you always been very close growing up?
Bláthnaid: We’ve always been a very close family, especially me and Aoibhinn. There’s only a year between the two of us, so we have always been really close and then since launching BiaBelle we’ve gotten even closer!
Before lockdown, we were out working and I was living at home I would say me and Aoibhinn spent 90% of our time together! It was literally like we work together and then we go home in the evening, and we’d have a drink together and then the weekends we’d all get a takeaway together.
7. Your tan is manufactured in Ireland – was that something that was very important for you?
Aoibhinn: Yeah, we always try and bring everything back to Ireland if we can. It’s something that we are really proud of. I love being able to say that!
And the box that the tan comes in as well, that’s actually made in Ireland too. The seaweed extracts in the tan is also Irish. We always try and source things in Ireland when we can!
8. You started out with lashes, now you have a variety of products… talk to me about the process of coming up with a new idea? How does it come about?
Bláthnaid: I suppose with the makeup, that was just always something we wanted to get into. We just thought the best place to start after the lashes was keeping with the eyes and doing an eyeshadow palette and the highlighter palette.
And then with the tan, before we ever launched our lashes we were working on our tan so we always knew we were going to come out with a tan. I think me and Aoibhinn were always kind of known for our tan, so that was just a no-brainer for us.
Then what we always tend to do is try and think of something that will compliment the products we already have to make it even better, and it just gives the business a nice flow and it just makes sense.
9. Has lockdown affected you business at all?
Aoibhinn: Definitely in terms of the manufacturing and the ordering – it’s just so slow. Everything is taking twice as long so things aren’t happening as quick as we would have liked. So yeah basically everything just really slowed down. We are so lucky we can still work though!
10. What is the one beauty product could you never live without?
Bláthnaid: I’d say definitely tan, and not just because we own tan, but because it just always makes you feel better. Like even before we launched BiaBelle, tan was always our go-to.
I just feel like you put on a layer of tan and it instantly makes you feel better. You look better, you feel better and you’re just in a better mood. Tan is the one beauty product I could never live without! But I also love lashes and lipgloss.
11. You guys have a few YouTube videos, is that something you would like to get more into?
Aoibhinn: Yeah definitely. I think it’s just about finding the time because it’s very time consuming and you don’t really realise until you’re doing it. But hopefully when lockdown is over we can make more videos.
Bláthnaid: Yeah, we were making a good few and then BiaBelle just took off and it consumed all of our time because we used to pack all of our orders ourselves as well. So the whole day used to just be the three of us just packing orders all day from start to finish. That’s when YouTube started to get left behind a little bit.
But since then, we have hired people for our warehouse and we have hired a sales development manager, so now we are getting a bit more time. Hopefully well be able to get back into it soon!
12. Anything new coming in the near future with BiaBelle?
Aoibhinn: We’re always working on so many different things… We have a few things that are nearing the finishing line but again, because of Covid production and all that stuff just takes to much longer, so it might be awhile before it reaches the market.
Because we are making them completely from scratch, it takes so long to perfect them as well. Plus the fact that the three of us are perfectionists that doesn’t help at all!