The Urban Health Shop: Health in the ‘Hood
We meet Dee Buckley on an already busy Thursday afternoon, just before the rush of health-conscious locals come bursting through the door of Urban Health for the lunchtime rush. The place is a mecca for clean eating, an establishment “born through a love of healthy, nutritious food and an active lifestyle”, according to Dee and her husband and business partner Darragh.
What made you come back to Dublin from your travels in Australia?
That’s always the thing with Dublin for me, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Every time I went away, I just appreciated Ireland so much, especially Dublin. There’s such a cool vibe in Dublin. I’m so proud of being Irish. I’d never intended really staying away. I was always going to come back.
What made you choose Ranelagh?
I’ve lived here since I was three, I’ve grown up around here. It’s changed so, so much since I first moved in. Now, there’s such a cool restaurant and coffee shop vibe around Ranelagh, but the one thing again that we noticed was that there were no health food places. The restaurants around here are amazing, absolutely! But where could we get good, healthy products like spirulina, wheatgrass, fresh juices? That’s why we started Urban Health.
There’s a village mentality, but it’s so close to the city. Do you have that sense of community with locals?
100 per cent! That’s the beauty of Ranelagh, it’s like a country village in the big city. Everyone knows each other. All of the businesses around here help each other out. If we run out of coffee cups, we borrow them from someone else, no big deal. We keep an eye on each other. The bigger franchises don’t do well in Ranelagh, people just want to support the small local businesses.
On social media you’s talk about environmental sustainability a lot, is that important to you?
Our whole thing is we wanted it to be about healthy lifestyle. It’s not just about food, we have a yoga and pilates studio upstairs. We really believe in health as a whole. Mind, body and soul. We made the decision to try and cut down, we’re not plastic free totally yet, but all of our packaging is recyclable. That was our big goal for 2018.
Does it frustrate you, as an independent company making a big effort, going into the supermarket and seeing plastic everywhere?
The bigger companies need to take the lead. Until they start demanding it it’s making it so much more expensive for everybody else. I think what frustrates me more now though is that all of our packaging here is compostable, but when people leave here, there are no compost bins, so they are forced to put it in the general rubbish.
Speaking of being an independent company – you mentioned in an interview before that all of your waking hours are consumed by work. But does the sense of achievement drive you to keep doing it?
Definitely, I don’t think I’d ever be fully happy working for someone else. I’ve always wanted to just do my own thing. There are times where you’re answering emails at 11pm, or you’ve forgotten to order something and you waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it. But for all of the bad points, there are so many good points as well. It’s a lot of hard work, running a business, but for me doing something I really believe in is what’s most rewarding. I put my head on my pillow at night time and feel I’m doing something that can help people. I can feel like I’m actually improving their life.