Tracey Ryan, the master alchemist and founder behind Bia, tells us how she translated a love of plants into her superstar skincare range.
Where did you study and do your training?
“I studied organic horticulture and sustainable development at An T-Ionad Glas–a tiny little college in County Limerick. I loved every single thing I studied there; I literally soaked it up like a sponge. I started growing a market garden and really embraced plant identification. It’s the biggest pleasure in life to walk through the woods with my children and tell them the names of the trees and plants we come across, and to throw in little stories of how they got their local names or what can we make from them. Later, I went on to do a degree in herbal science, which involved studying anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology. I started to think about the human body and disease and the ways that plants could offer solutions. I became fascinated with how things work at a cellular level in the body.”
What inspired you to launch Bia?
“During my final year in school, we had to create a product from herbal ingredients and write a business plan. I had an idea already for a natural skincare range that was so pure it was made from edible ingredients. I had looked at emulsifiers from the food industry and plant-based preservatives and created a moisturizer with nut and seed oils, fruit and herb extracts. This was our first product and, once I graduated college, I added to the range and launched Bia.”
Why did you want to be part of the Codex Beauty family?
“When I first heard about the vision for Codex Beauty, it was everything and more I wanted for Bia. We were a tiny team at Bia, trying to do a lot with a little. We are experts at making skincare products, but not so much at other parts of the business. Becoming part of a global team of experts is a way for us to move forward and grow. We can concentrate on what we do best and let the experts in other areas do the same! The most exciting part has been seeing the emphasis on scientific research. For years, we have wanted to carry out clinical trials on one of our products and joining Codex has allowed us to do this. Now, I can access the best support in research, dermatology, manufacturing, formulating and testing, so I can produce the best possible skincare products.”
What’s next for Bia? How will you remain true to your Irish roots?
“The Codex Beauty team has a lot of respect for Bia as a native Irish brand. We continue to work with local growers and use beautiful, effective, native ingredients. In fact, now that we have access to more growers, we can use lesser-known plants. We recently linked up to Carraig Fhada, an Irish family that harvests nutrient-rich seaweed on the Atlantic coast. And there are many new products in the pipeline—we are formulating on a constant basis here. The area of blue light protection is of interest to us. Personally, I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer. We’re looking at the power of plants to help protect and heal the skin in this context. I have so many powerful antioxidants in my arsenal of herbs and I will be calling on them with lots of new formulas. Stay tuned!”