Happy Pear twins David and Stephen Flynn know 'we're Marmite' as they turn 40
"We started as two idealists - it was never about making a load of cash. It was more about, 'Let's see how we can encourage people to eat more fruit and veg'."
If you can't quite put your finger on why you dislike the Happy Pear, try this: they brought Dryrobes to Ireland.
The 'Marmite' brothers behind the vegan food movement irked and inspired in equal measure with their hyper-healthy sunrise sea swims on social media during lockdown.
So Magazine+ isn't entirely surprised to find the fingerprints of Dave and Stephen Flynn all over 2020's most divisive fashion trend as a wave of newbies joined the sea swimming tribe.
"We've been wearing them for a long time," laughs Dave of the suitably love/loathe changing robes, which famously sparked a turf war between lifelong sea swimmers and newcomers in Dublin during the pandemic. "We were given them from Dryrobe around six years ago.
"They were meant to send two, but they sent four by mistake, and then they sent another four, so we had eight, so we gave them out to all our group and it kind of spawned. They're very practical if you swim during winter when it's cold and mank."
"They're easy to slag," adds Stephen. "You look weird, you look like you're part of a cult, but they're very practical. It's brilliant to see people connecting with nature and getting outdoors.
"We've seen it time and time again how beneficial it is for your mental health. It's like resetting the hard drive."
Easy to slag but ultimately aimed at improving people's mental and physical health is, coincidentally, the perfect explainer for the twins.
Their health-living empire has, over the past 17 years, grown from their flagship cafe in Greystones to include a range of supermarket ready meals, books, podcasts and partnerships, most recently as Toyota's Sandyford's newest sustainability ambassadors.
Although the pandemic has taken its toll, after the pair were forced to close three of their eponymous cafes, the unstoppable brothers are already working on their next project - a six-acre biodiverse farm where people can pick their own fruit and veg in the ultimate farm-to-fork experience.
"I think Covid really highlighted any business that was over-extended," admits dad-of-three Stephen, who says the combination of lockdown and their recent 40th birthday inspired a return to the aspirational core of the Happy Pear, which began life as a local NGO in 2004. "We had to make a number of people redundant, which is horrible.
"We started as two idealists - it was never about making a load of cash. It was more about, 'Let's see how we can encourage people to eat more fruit and veg'.
"So it's been lovely to reflect on what's important. We've even seen that with the business, where we got caught up in growth and kind of lost our way a bit.
"I think turning 40 gave us that opportunity to connect back in with why we started our business and decide instead of making it bigger, why not just make it better?"
While Magazine+ can't quite get the owners of Ireland's most famous six-packs to confess to binging on the odd sneaky spice bag, for his part, dad-of-two Dave says he is no longer worried about maintaining a public image of pear-fection.
A 582k strong Instagram following means the celebrity foodies are now stopped for selfies everywhere from Dublin to Dubai.
"Once a month, the kids get chips and I used to go, 'I'm not going to stand outside the chipper'," he tells. "Now I'm not bothered who sees me.
"That word is a funny word, 'celebrity', because being identical twins in a small town, you always got lots of attention. It's just that now instead of going, 'Are you twins?' it's, 'Are you the Happy Pear lads?'
"Sometimes it's overwhelming, and more often than not, it's great craic."
Right on cue, a message of thanks pings into Stephen's DMs from a fan: "You get loads of messages like that, so when you look at that you're like, 'This is deadly!' So you do get positives. As with anything you get naysayers too, and that's part of it."
Dressed in the year-round Greystones uniform of denim shorts and a t-shirt, despite the rain, Dave acknowledges their 'good vibes only' message isn't for everyone.
"We know we're Marmite," he shrugs. "We're for some people and not for lots of people - and that's fine."
So are the Happy Pear ever, well, unhappy?
"We do experience a lot of joy and a lot of happiness," considers Stephen. "But I think with maturity you tend to feel more comfortable to show more depth and to be less fluffy. As I get more mature, I stopped trying to be perfect and try to just be... me.
"Maybe it is becoming older, but I think we're less interested in happiness and more interested in contentment," adds Dave, "because happiness can be a very fleeting emotion."
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