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The Wild Wellness Explorer | Interview with VOYA’s Mark Walton

The Wild Wellness Explorer | Interview with VOYA’s Mark Walton

In this issue of wild eden magazine we speak to the co-founder of the incredible VOYA brand about finding inspiration in the Wild West of Ireland, his success story behind the global VOYA brand and the incredible wild ingredients behind the wellness brand.

Q. What brought you to the West?

I was born a raised in Sligo, what brought me back was the community and lifestyle I enjoy here. I had a successful career in Dublin in International financial services, but I became jaded with the career and the city lifestyle. Felt like I was living to work, rather than working to live. Also with VOYA I don’t feel like am working, its more of a passion project that has been successful.

Read the VOYA Guardians of tradition- Press Release

Q.Favourite urban aspect of your surrounding area?

I love eating out in Sligo, usually combined with live music, its easy and relaxed. I try to support the Hawkswell theatre as much as possible too

Q.Favourite wild aspect of Sligo?

For me Sligo is all about the wild. We are blessed, I was lucky to be raised by parents who loved outdoors too, there wasn’t a part of the country I didn’t swim, fish, hike or ride in. I’m still discovering it too. I love fishing in remote lakes by myself, I hike up mountains, the more remote the better, but I am a sea child. I have always loved surfing, adventure swimming. But in the last year I have started prone paddling (they are like big surfboards), it’s the perfect way to explore the coast, we can go out in big winds and big swells (with sensible precautions). So much of the coastline is difficult to explore, even in a boat, we can get into sea caves, along cliffs, surf offshore reefs. I have come to know the entire Sligo coast intimately. Its amazing! 

Q.Favourite cultural aspect of Sligo?

I love Sligo, because I don’t feel I have to compromise culturally. I have so many friends who still live in cities and they say they couldn’t leave because they would miss out on culture, not true. We have a vibrant cultural scene, baroque musical festivals, theatre, contemporary musical festivals and regular exhibitions. OK if I lived in Dublin or London, there is a lot more, but how much do you actually get to see. I found when I lived in cities I attended less cultural events because I was always too busy. Whereas in Sligo we make sure we attend and it’s getting better every year!

Q. In what way does the wild nature of this part of the world manifest itself in your work/leisure? 

I am blessed to make a living from the sea, we sustainably hand harvest wild seaweed. Work life balance is very important to me and my colleagues. So the same location can be a place for harvesting seaweed or somewhere I will surf or swim- the synergies and overlaps are astonishing really. I am very cognisant I am lucky, I enjoy a wonderful quality of life, but I would argue, Sligo affords that to you, you are never more 10 mins away from leisure activity, swimming, surfing, fishing, horse riding, mountain biking. It’s about the ease of access to your chosen past time. 

Q. How does your lifestyle here compare to other places you have lived? For instance: Are you busier? More relaxed? Do you have a good work/life balance? 

Some of my friends from past working life accuse me of being so relaxed I’m horizontal. That’s not quite true, as my wife and I still run a large business, but we have a work/life balance, In that we are able to do the things we want to do rather than settling for things we can do. So I go for sea swims, paddles or surf at lunch time rather a pool swim in the city. I love pool swimming by the way, it’s just an illustration of how accessible everything is here.

Q.You live within walking distance of the sea; is that especially important for you and your family?

No amount of money could persuade me to live somewhere else. I say this with absolute certainty. Our home is 200m from the sea and we are very grateful. We love where we live.

Q.What’s your favourite wild pastime right now?

I love my prone paddling, just because of what I can achieve with it, But I love surfing and fly fishing too. I tend to move from one to the other depending on the time of the year! Sorry, not answering the question!

Q. What goes into a Voya product from nature, and what are the properties and benefits of using wild ingredients?

All of our products are made with wild hand harvested seaweed. Seaweed truly is a one of the most magical plants in the world. Nothing compares to its level of minerals, vitamins and valuable active compounds. It’s been known around the world for centuries and has been used to treat a host of ailments and conditions. Modern science is catching up with this and adding knowledge to how it can be used in our wellbeing, inside and out. 

Q.Voya products can be found in a spa in the Seychelles, or in the first-class compartment of an Emirates A380. That’s quite an achievement for a local brand from the north-western fringe of Europe! Has it been a long road to global success?

Success is a constant battle but thank you. We used to say being in business is like running fast in front of a bullet, you’ll be fine as long as you don’t trip. It has been a long road and it continues to be up and down, but Kira and I have always believed in surrounding ourselves in brilliant people and with a strong team, committed to our goals we feel very confident for the years ahead.

Q. One word answer – surf; SUP; or swim? 

Surf, can’t beat good waves 😊

Product feature | Sea Ór by VOYA

Sea Ór is a new premium range of health and wellbeing dietary supplements developed in partnership with leading nutritionists and scientists. We recognised the benefits of feeding the skin from within and the important role food supplements can play in enhancing skin, health, and wellbeing.

The concept for our seaweed dietary supplements began in 2016 and was born from our love of the sea, our unique knowledge of seaweed and its countless benefits for the human body. Sea Ór supplements have been created following years of extensive and proven research and are the most scientifically advanced, active seaweed supplements to be launched onto the international wellness and dietary supplement market.

Formulated using a proprietary blend of scientifically selected seaweeds, our exclusive marine complex Orplex™ and specially selected vitamins and minerals, they will enhance your health & wellbeing from the inside out.

For more go to the VOYA website

Many thanks to Sligo native and Co-founder of VOYA Mark Walton

For more on the VOYA brand go to

Interview by David North for wild eden magazine
Thank you to all creatives who kindly shared their creative ideas and processes with us for this interview and supplied their wonderful imagery. All imagery courtesy of featured creatives.

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