MARK WALTON - HEAD ABOVE WATER

This week we sit down with VOYA Co-Founder and Managing Director Mark Walton. Mark discusses operating a beauty and wellness business, practising self-care, protecting your physical and mental health and the surprising positives that have come from living through Covid-19.

Covid 19 has obviously had a big impact on our mental health. How do you cope with stress?

Not always as well as I would like. At the start of the emergence of Covid I came down with shingles, entirely stress related. I think the planet was collectively in free fall and trying to maintain control was impossible. I particularly felt the impact this was having on my colleagues, customers, and my friends, many asking for advice and answers to questions I simply did not have. It took me some time to adapt to the uncertainty, I needed to take a deep breath and I’ve kept the serenity prayer close to my heart.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference

I focused on my family and my physical and mental wellbeing. I avoided social media, it was interesting times, not always bringing the best out of people and we needed to concentrate on the positive at a time like that.

I feel a great connection to the ocean, I have always surfed, but now more than ever this became a lifeline to my sanity. I surfed most days and if not, I was taking long ocean swims. I am blessed to live a 100m from the sea and I would just put on my wetsuit and go, without a plan and swim and explore.

Do you think that the pandemic has changed our attitudes to what is important in our lives?

Working in the wellness industry we know what to do, but we do not always do it. Personally speaking, Kira and I have recentred, like many we have become so aware of the importance of our personal connections with friends and our family. The benefit of being in nature, truly immersed in it, being present in it. Eating local produce and discovering what is on your doorstep.

Practicing self-care, whether be exercise, meditation, yoga. I am laughing at myself as type this, but its true, life is short, our time here is not a rehearsal. I am not trying to reach some unrealistic life goal, just slow down a bit and smell the coffee…

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced with the business during this period?

It has been bleak to be honest. Many of our customers who are friends have seen a disastrous decline in business. We have also had to unfortunately furlough many long-term employees which was a difficult decision to make as Kira and I had always been proud of the fact that we have never had to make a redundancy. However, necessity if the mother of all invention, we adapted, pivoted and online sales became an important lifeline for us and indeed our customers, and our team really rose to the occasion. It is so important to support small Irish businesses during times like these.  The impact to the local economy is disproportionately higher and therefore we need to support where we can.

Have there been any unexpected positives in your life as a result of this ‘new normal’?

Personally, I have never been in better physical and mental shape. I have lost 60lbs, I exercise 4 times a week through a combination of surfing, swimming and pilates, and as a result I am sleeping well. I am happier than I thought could be possible during such a challenging period.  I feel good and am thinking clearly. We brought out a range of supplements in Spring (Sea Ór) which from a business perspective was not ideal timing for a launch, but from a personal perspective they have had a profound impact on my health.  

Have you any words of advice to other business owners out there?

Keep repeating the serenity prayer to yourself. I think we acted quickly to limit the impact to our business, I kind of felt it was like war time triage, just do what you can and hope it is enough. Things will return to normal. I also know it has allowed us to reflect on what is our core strengths and weakness. Do not get distracted, focus on your core and be brilliant at that.

And finally, what are your Top 3 Hero VOYA products?

Always a difficult question, but I love the Sea Ór Orplex Body Supplement now, as I can see the results! This supplement contains all the vitamins and minerals you need and is scientifically formulated using Orplex™ our innovative marine formula which contains seaweed, Vitamin C, Zinc and Coenzyme Q10. I have more energy all the time.

As I am exercising more, I use Serengerise body oil a lot, in conjunction with Feel the Heat body warming gel. I am blessed that we make such amazing hand care products, my hands were destroyed with all the current and necessary sanitisation. The glycerine and seaweed in Clean Me Up hand wash and Handy to Have hand cream have literally saved my hands from being dry and cracked.