Aiden Corcoran wanted to be a journalist. His career guidance teacher put him off. His father had wanted him to join the Gardaí. His uncle put him off. In the end, he trained as an engineer, and now his company makes up to 50pc of the fake tan produced in Ireland.
"I was a good engineer. My uncle, who has gone on to be a deacon, was an engineer. We were fixing a washing machine, I was 16 or 17, and I just had the knack," Corcoran says, his laid-back mannerism disguising what becomes apparent is a brilliant mind.
"I was really enjoying it. My uncle pulled my father aside and my dad had that attitude of 'my son is going to be a guard too', but I was not really made for that.
"Of course, you are young and you are not really going to row with your father. But my uncle described to my father the differences in wages between engineers and guards, after which my father turned around and said 'check out this engineering'."
After a stint in the United States on the Morrison visa (a scheme in the early 1990s that granted green cards to thousands of Irish citizens), where he was "painting and decorating, and lifting things and putting things down", Corcoran ended up at DIT on Dublin's Bolton Street.
He graduated as an engineer and went into industry, joining computer maker Hewlett Packard (HP), which he describes as the Google of the era.
"Back in 2000, HP was fantastic. There was a no-blame culture and I loved that, because back in the 1980s and 1990s, Ireland had a full-blame culture.
"Everything was everyone's fault. Whereas this was 'you learn, you make your mistake, you own your mistake and everyone moves on', and I loved that."
Corcoran would end up in a project managing role with a budget of around $45m (€40m).
At HP, Corcoran met his wife Lorraine: "A fantastic engineer; she is better than me, and I don't like to say that too often."
Nineteen years on, the two have three children and two businesses.
From HP, he moved to drug maker Allergan as a contractor. From contracting, he then struck out on his own, co-founding Horizon, an engineering and contract services company.
While the company grew from a staff of six or seven to 75, he found it very difficult to grow it further.
"You are selling people's hours and you are constrained by the level of hours you can sell," he says.
By 2017, Corcoran felt he had done his work at the company, and he and the board "came to a happy enough place".
"Cosmetic Creations came up as an opportunity and in early 2017, I acquired the business."
The company manufactures everything from skincare and self-tanning products to supplements and cosmetics. Customers include supermarkets and pharmacy chains.
The vast majority of fake tan sold in Ireland is made under white label by Cosmetic Creations, mostly for brand owners who sell into the retail sector. However, in the next six months, the company intends to rebrand itself.
The products are sold here and exported to 15 countries.
When Corcoran took over the business less than three years ago, there was a team of 22, all based only in Mayo.
Today, there are more than 90 employees at facilities in both Mayo and Cork, where he bought a factory which had been operated by the French cosmetics business Yves Rocher.
He also hired a number of people who had worked at Yves Rocher.
While staff numbers have grown sharply, it remains very much a family business, with Corcoran's wife and brother, David, both directors.
In addition, Corcoran's sister, Louise, manages the commercial clients.
"We acquired the plant in Cork to help the company scale up. In three years, we went from producing one million units of products a year to doing 4.5 million to five million. The goal would be to scale it to do 20 million units a year by the next two to three years," Corcoran says.
"That is everything from what I call general bodycare, skincare, cosmetics, but also into food supplements and pharmaceuticals as well."
Last year, the company increased the volume of its output by 75pc, and this year it aims to grow by 50-70pc.
In Mayo, it does a lot of the "complicated work" with regards filling and packaging, and food supplements.
Its Cork plant does a lot of high-volume blending of ingredients.
So Corcoran bought a company in Mayo and a factory in Cork, and melded them into a single business.
It sounds like a straightforward process for an experienced engineer with a background in industry. But Corcoran hadn't factored in the language barrier.
As he explains: "This time a year ago, I would not have let you in. I would have been frightened out of my life as to would this work at all.
"I'm an engineer, so you think if I do all these things it should [work], but also that nothing in life is going to go the way you plan it. It was beautifully mental."
He really believes the facilities were divided by a common language - or at least a clash of cultures.
"Cork spoke Cork and Mayo spoke Mayo. And for three months, we spoke English but in different ways. It goes back to how we do things."
He elaborates: "The Cork staff had an old culture of high-volume, multinational [work]. [In] Mayo, we acquired it as a going concern with the goodwill and staff.
"It had had very low investment and it had learnt to become incredibly innovative and adaptable and flexible, but it forgot how to work in a multinational. It kind of planned and spoke in a different way."
In addition, the staff in Mayo had to be trained in how to say 'no' to people.
"Not saying no was killing us. We were doing some crazy-ass projects, making no money, but just because the guys on the team wouldn't let poor Mary from Galway [with her small order] down.
"And we had to say 'guys, we can't support poor Mary all the time because we will go under if we do'."
To tackle the culture clash, teams spent time together off-site and thrashed out some of the issues.
"We had to build processes that were very clear. We did it under great pressure and I think that pressure has created a diamond," he says.
Last year, the company received an investment loan of €7.5m, which will be used to buy assets, scaling the production capacity.
Scale matters to big brand owners, who want a supplier that can quickly produce 200,000 or 300,000 units of a product, while the large multiples, such as supermarket chains, want someone who can come up with four or five truck loads. The manufacturing capacity for all of that had to be built.
In time, Cosmetic Creations will be looking for a partner to come in and work with it to grow.
"It's not just about money; it is about someone coming in with expertise to take us to the next level," Corcoran says.
"This year, the goal is to get about 6-7 million units out and around €10m in revenue, potentially doubling in size. We also want to start developing our pharmaceutical line of products," he adds.
The five-year goal is to create a €30m-revenue firm.
It is hard to avoid Brexit when talking to any business owner in Ireland today. For Corcoran, there are mixed emotions.
Speaking with his CEO hat on, he will tell you that the company has seen a 20pc increase in new production because of Brexit from companies that were manufacturing in the UK and have diversified sourcing here. "That has been positive," he says.
"The currency challenge is certainly one, but cosmetics do contain a sufficient margin to be able to absorb it."
However, on a personal level, he says: "I'm just sad about it." While Ireland is a good place to do business, with the UK gone, "geographically we are in an isolated spot".
"The centre of gravity in Europe will naturally change. That would be my longer-term concern," he says.
"But I do believe we have the ability here to do business internationally.
"You can have all the tax deductions in the world, but if the people can't bloody do it... and here they can."
For Corcoran, his biggest challenge is probably also his best advice.
"Ensuring you can divide your time to achieve what you want. Sometimes that means letting the team engage and standing back because you have hired people better than you to fix the problem, and trusting that that's OK."
Easy to say, but it is hard when "you have everything on the line".