Posted: Thu 23rd Feb 2023
Enterprise Nation member Maria Morgan shares the story of the Irish natural skincare brand she founded on a farm in Co. Louth.
Maria named Esker Fields after the view over the countryside she enjoys as she makes her handmade products. Here, she talks about her experiences of running a small business, and her dreams for the future.
What is Esker Fields?
We're just not another skincare product, we're an aromatic sensory experience. It's about how the products make you feel as a result of it – that's what makes Esker Fields unique. They make you feel amazing, because that's the power of essential oils.
If you're stressed, they'll help you de-stress and relax you. If you can't sleep, they'll help you sleep. If you have arthritic pain or muscular pains, they'll help with that. If you have dry skin conditions such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis, they'll help with that too.
If I'm stressed or overwhelmed, because at times we all are, the first thing I do is go back to my own products.
How old is the company now?
I started Esker Fields in 2020. I'd set up a holistic business at the end of 2018 and I was doing treatments like aromatherapy, Reiki, bioenergy and all of that.
I was making the products, initially for myself, and then for family and friends. When I got them tested, they were all under the name of the holistic business.
At the beginning of 2020 I decided that I was going to concentrate more on the skincare. Really, I could help more people through my products than I could bringing them into my clinic to give them treatments.
When lockdown happened, I decided to rebrand, repackage and launch the products under the new name of Esker Fields.
Within seven or eight weeks, my Sleep Please Pillow Mist was featured in the Irish Independent newspaper as one of the top 10 lockdown luxuries. To this day, I don't know how the journalist had gotten it! That was huge for me and it really gave me the ideal start at that stage.
What was your background before you founded Esker Fields?
I worked in adult education – my role was in adult literacy. Adults would come to me with literacy, numeracy and language difficulties, and I would arrange classes for them. I absolutely had a passion for it.
I always had that passion to help people and now I see my current role as no different. I'm just helping people through products, and educating them in a different way. My educational background comes in to my work now.
How helpful has the media attention you've had been?
Straightaway, you see the reaction. The following year I was in the Irish Times in the New Innovator column. I woke up that morning and I could hear the phone going before I knew I was in the paper – I could see the results through orders.
It's all about getting outside validation. The fact that it's in reputable papers or reputable stores lends validation to your products. It's not me saying that my products are great, it's someone else. They're not going to put their reputation on the line if your product is no good.
What have you been learning about being a small business?
People do business with people. That's the long and short of it – you want to work with people you like.
Any kind of Facebook post, any image of Esker Fields or any article about it is very reflective of me. If you're reading something, or you're following me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and you meet me in reality, what you see is what you get.
When I'm talking about self-care and the importance of it, it's vital that I do that for myself. There's no point in me telling someone to do one thing and me doing another, because I have the same challenges as everybody else.
I had to give myself a little bit of a talking to over the New Year to get a little bit more perspective. When you're working in a business or setting up a business, it's very easy to get consumed by it, and you neglect the self-care.
You're one of Enterprise Nation's newer members. What are you hoping to get from your membership?
I'd like to get some help with marketing and different things. It's great to be part of Enterprise Nation because I can say, "This is my problem" and Enterprise Nation understands where we're coming from and asks "How can we help you?". I'm also signed up to the newsletter.
You've recently worked more on your social media. Are you seeing a difference?
Yes, people recognise the brand. It's funny, when I'm at shows or somewhere people say they've seen me before but they don't know where – and then they realise they're following me on Instagram or on Twitter. It's definitely working in terms of brand awareness.
I was doing nothing on Twitter and I was doing very little on LinkedIn. So when I was chatting to Samantha Kelly, she was saying these are opportunities you're missing. And now I can definitely see a difference in Twitter since I've started posting religiously.
Finally, what's the dream?
My dream is to have a globally recognised skincare company that's filled with heart-centred, compassionate employees.