‘Bone broth is nature’s Botox’: former trader joins a whole new stock market
Carol Banahan got tired of being a trader in Canada and set up a stock and broth firm in Derry
Stirring the pot: Carol Banahan testing her organic vegetable stock. Photograph: Trevor McBride
Carol’s Stock Market. Photograph: Trevor McBride
Carol Banahan, a former equity trader, has no regrets about swapping the stock market for the stockpot.
The Dubliner is used to a high-octane working environment. As the former head of equity trading for the investment management arm of Royal Bank of Canada, she was responsible for managing $50 million-$100 million in daily stock trades and used to starting her day at 4.30am.
“It’s one of those crazy careers that you need to be extremely mentally fit and physically healthy to cope with,” she says. “Some days we traded up to $1 billion and, not long before I retired, we traded a record $1.2 billion in a single day.”
Banahan left Dublin in the early 1980s, when Ireland was in the grip of recession. “I was 20 and there were few opportunities here at the time,” she says. “My sister was in Canada and doing well, and I was eager to explore the world.
“For me Canada turned out to be the land of opportunity. I had a good 25-year career there, including almost 20 years of trading.”
Banahan says she relied on a healthy diet and clean living to stay fit, and regularly consumed home-made bone broth to benefit from its well-known nutritional and healing properties.
When she decided to call it a day on the trading floor four years ago and return to Ireland, she exchanged one kind of stock for another and set up Carol’s Stock Market, to produce natural bone broths and home-made stocks.
The decision to quit life in the fast lane came down to the fact that it had stopped being fun.
“I wasn’t enjoying it like I used to. I found it tougher every day, with constant fatigue and stress. We began talking about moving back to Ireland and reinventing ourselves and that’s what we did.
The perfect gravy
The company is based in Derry. It was launched just over a year ago with three stock products and is about to add a sipping beef broth to the range.
Ultimately Banahan sees her enterprise developing into an international natural stocks, soups and sauces company with an emphasis on highly nutritious ingredients. She is currently working on a recipe for the perfect natural gravy.
The award-winning products are available across 20 counties and online.
The venture has been self-funded apart from a small innovation grant from Invest NI.
“The decision to start this business was easy,” Banahan says. “I have always loved natural bone broth but couldn’t find it anywhere in Ireland. I did some market research and then went back to school, completing qualifications in both cooking and nutrition. I had fantastic mentoring from chef Brian McDermott and great support from the Foodovation Centre in Derry.
“I was its first client and rented a kitchen there two days a week. It took a massive amount of work to get the business off the ground, but I think the hardest part was establishing a good network of contacts.
“The difference between a naturally made stock and a processed cube is like chalk and cheese,” Banahan says. “One is so highly nutritious, the other is the opposite and full of salt.
“Nutrients are unlocked in our slow-cooked beef and chicken stocks to help naturally ease digestion, bolster immunity, keep bones and joints strong and promote healthy hair, skin and nails. Bone broth is nature’s Botox and max strength multi-vitamin. It is one of the healthiest foods you can eat.”
It’s a far cry from life on the trading floor but it’s certainly no semi-retirement.
“This new life has stresses of its own but it is incredibly fulfilling. I didn’t really have a sense of personal satisfaction in my last job. Yes, I was good at what I did, but now I enjoy a deep personal satisfaction that the business I started is growing.”