Malcolm, a scientist, his wife Joanna, a beauty therapist, and Martin, a seaweed expert, set out together to create results driven organic skincare, harnessing the natural skin antioxidants, healing, and anti-ageing properties of pure, Scottish seaweed.
The story of ishga goes back to 2013, when the luxury natural formulas we know today looked very different. After returning to the Isle of Lewis from studying at the University of Glasgow, Malcolm Macrae began his career in pharmaceuticals and then moved onto water testing, where he was re-acquainted with old school friend, Martin Macleod. Martin had been working at a seaweed factory, and through their love of golf, the pair got talking about the entrepreneurial opportunities of seaweed and organic product from their home island. They both knew how naturally rich seaweed was in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, and alongside Malcolm’s wife Joanna, they started experimenting with the possibilities of using seaweed in skincare products.
Our first product to be developed was our now bestselling, Anti-oxidant Marine Cream. However, it began as a very different product to how you know and love it today. Originating as a brown-coloured cream with a strong seaweed scent, Malcolm, Joanna and Martin knew there was something special about it, but it needed tweaking to appeal to the skincare market. This is where the partnership with Leon Trayling, who worked at Blythswood Hotel Spa at the time, began. Leon quickly got on board with the idea of a seaweed skincare brand and became involved with developing the brand identity and testing and refining the products to appeal to spas.
After a short while, ‘ishga’ (meaning ‘water’ in Gaelic) was born in an unassuming portacabin in Arnish Point on Lewis between the Co-Founders as they deliberated how to present their little pot of Hebridean magic to the world. However, there was still the challenge of overcoming the strong seaweed scent of the cream – and that’s where the science comes in. Malcolm, who had a strong academic background, finally developed a unique extraction process which removed the odour of the seaweed whilst keeping its potent vitamin, mineral and antioxidant properties full of benefits for the skin. Now, the team knew they had a very special product that they were excited to share with the world.
With Leon’s commercial experience, combined with Martin’s knowledge of seaweed and Malcolm’s science background, ishga has grown over the years into the award-winning Hebridean organic skincare brand loved today across the world. We are now featured in over 70 prestigious spas across the world, with exciting plans for further international growth and innovative product launches in the pipeline.
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