Louise O’Kane is the woman behind Club Gigi, an Irish Shaving brand targetting Pink Tax by delivering women's razors that are cheaper than high street brands and priced in line with men's razors. Here she talks career mentors, starting her own business and why gratitude is key.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
I’ve wanted to have my own business for as long as I can remember. Being self employed has been a dream of mine and I guess that’s because my parents ran different businesses as I was growing up, so I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
In college, I studied… I did an arts degree and studied english, history and philosophy. If I had a chance to go back to college again, I would choose digital marketing or something business-related as I’ve had to learn those skills since launching my business. If I went back to college just to study for pleasure, I’d study psychology as I find human behaviour fascinating.
My most formative work experience was… I worked in a call centre as a customer service adviser after I finished college. Working in a role where lots of people are frustrated on a daily (even hourly) basis helped me develop valuable customer service skills such as patience, empathy and going above and beyond for even the most irate of customer. “Kill them with kindness” was my motto and that’s still true today. People appreciate being listened to and feeling valued.
My first real job was… I landed my first paid job at the age of 15 as a waitress in a local restaurant and I can still remember how amazing that felt. I had waitressed in my mother’s restaurant before then but this felt different, I had to go for an interview, was officially offered a job and asked to start that evening. It was probably one of my fondest first day at a new job memories. Interviewing and leaving with a uniform in hand.
The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was… not to cut corners; to take pride in every task, even those that seem boring (especially those that seem boring!), because others won’t and you will stand out for being dependable and reliable. If you want to progress and get ahead, nothing will accelerate success like hard work and discipline.
A common misconception about what I do is… the business doesn’t take up a lot of my free time. There are always things that needs to be worked on or figured out. Even when you’re not working, you are still are thinking about creating content, ways to improve the business or checking in on your emails and phone. It can hard to switch off.
My main responsibility in work is… marketing, packing customer orders, strategy work for ways to grow the business, responding to customer queries. Managing adverts and everything else that comes in on any given day.
Do you have a career mentor or someone you look up to/seek advice from?
I don’t have an actual mentor but I’m part of a couple of online subscription business groups and find those very helpful. There are a couple of people who I’m close with that I can turn to for advice but I’d really love to have a mentor and finding one is on my to-do list.
The biggest risk I have taken in my career so far is… launching Club Gigi during Covid. I didn’t have everything figured out and looking back had so much to learn but there’s a fine line between perfection and procrastination so I just went for it. I still take risks and try things before they are perfect because there’s no better way to learn than making mistakes and seeing what doesn’t work so you can get it right next time.
I wake up at… I wish I could say 6am! I’m reading a book called The Morning Miracle at the moment and I’m hoping it will help me to get a better morning routine in place, but right now, the snooze button always wins.
The first thing I do every morning is… practice gratitude. I’m a firm believer that we create what we think. I say a couple of different positive affirmations as I wash my face and listen to a gratitude mantra on my phone as I put my make-up on and that sets my mindset for the day.
My morning routine is… starting to get better now that I’ve incorporated 10 minutes of breath work and meditation into it. I’ll be really happy when I train myself to do a workout before work! After a cup of tea, the first thing I do is look at my to-do list, which I write out the night before. I then work on actioning the most pressing tasks first – I find that helps get yourself into a good rhythm for the day and you get a feeling of accomplishment early on which can help.
I can’t go to work without… I’ve started to really enjoy listening to podcasts while doing admin tasks and it’s become a guilty pleasure. It’s actually great for my productivity too as they help me get in the zone. I’ve been listening to Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast series lately. The insights shared by some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world is so inspiring and it really helps motivate me.
I travel to work by… I’m mainly working from home now which is a set-up I love. I live alone so I’ve plenty of space to work and the time saved not commuting is invaluable to me – it gives me the freedom to get some personal things done at lunch or even have the evening’s dinner prepped or cooked earlier in the day.
On an average workday I… office hours are 9am to 6pm but I typically will work late in the evenings too from 8pm to 10pm and give myself a little time to relax then. At 11pm I start my evening ritual – skin routine, gratitude journaling, to-do list for the next day, picking out what I want to wear the following day. I get into bed around 11:20pm and read for 15 minutes, then I spend 10 minutes meditating before I go to sleep.
I start my working day at… the home office I’ve set up. I enjoy being able to focus and get started on the tasks that are needed.
The first thing I do at work is… look at my to-do list, read and reply to emails and tackle the most urgent/pressing tasks first so they are complete before calls and meetings.
I usually spend the first portion of the day… focusing on admin tasks, replying to emails, ensuring my day is planned and mapped out and then the rest of the day is dedicated to meetings and calls.
I break for lunch at… I like to go to lunch at 12:30pm. I go to the post office to post orders over lunch so the earlier lunchtime helps me avoid long post office queues, then afterwards I’ll enjoy lunch.
The most useful business tool I use every day is… I created an excel file that keeps track of everything I need to do. I have column details such as input date, due date and status. I’ve colour coded the status column to a traffic light system which helps me see how the different tasks are progressing and if something is at risk. This helps me keep on top of all of the different tasks I need to complete and helps me visualise quickly what the most important things are.
I save time by… I love to automate things and I have a system in place for most of the different elements of my work. I’ve created a template in excel for content creation which helps me batch create content a month in advance. This saves me lots of time and helps me map out what content I want to share. Before I started doing this, I was spending so much unnecessary time trying to find inspiration for content and making it on the go. Scheduling and automating this process has been a game changer.
I rarely get through my working day without… updating that day’s to-do list and creating one for the following day.
The best part of my day is… without hesitation I have to say it’s when I see a new order come through on the system. As a small business owner, I really value each new person deciding to try shave with us. It gives me validation that the business is going in the right direction and the hard work is paying off. When I see a new order pop up on the screen I always smile and a little happy dance internally!
The most challenging part of my day is… looking at ads’ performance and working through the different metrics to see what is and isn’t working on any given day. Facebook’s algorithm has been challenging with the results it’s showing lately so there’s a lot of testing that needs to happen to get the ads working and performing well.
I know it’s been a good day if… it’s 10:30pm and I’m still working and haven’t noticed the time. This is always a great sign that I’m in flow and enjoying what I’m doing. If work seems like work, it’s hard to be creative.
I usually end my day at… 10pm on a weeknight. I don’t mind working to this time during the week as it means I can take a lot of the weekend off. I enjoy my nighttime routine and feel it’s a day well spent when I do a couple of hours in the evening if I’ve nothing else planned or booked in.
I switch off from work by… my night-time routine – skincare, gratitude journaling, reading and meditation. This relaxes my mind and helps me fall asleep quickly. If I’ve had a particularly stressful day at work, I tend not to work late that evening and either take a long bath or go for a walk and listen to music or a podcast and treat myself to something nice for dinner.
Before I go to bed, I… write my to-do list and five things I’m grateful for that day. I listen to a guided mediation just before I go to sleep too.
I often prepare for tomorrow by… having the following day’s to-do list written out. This is a nightly ritual and I even do it at the weekend. I love starting the day off with a purpose and goal in mind. If I have to be up earlier than normal, I’ll make sure everything is laid out and ready to go to make my morning as smooth and stress-free as possible.
After a long work week, I destress by… a Friday evening bath followed by a glass of wine and cooking something tasty for dinner. If the weather is nice, I’ll head for a walk along the beach or sometimes I’ll head into town and meet friends for food and a couple of drinks.
The accomplishment I’m most proud of is… that’s a tricky one as it’s difficult to pinpoint just one thing! I think with each new tick-the-box thing, I feel a great sense of pride. From the very first time I showed my face on Instagram to reaching the first 100 customers. All of the small things are really proud moments for me.
If you want to get into my line of work, my advice is to… I joined Phase One of New Frontiers which was amazing. It helped me to get a business plan together and tease out my idea from a concept into an action plan. If you reach out to your local enterprise office, they will advise on what courses are available. Joining a LEO course is a great platform to get the fundamentals in place to start your own business and to start networking and meet like-minded people.
I’ve just finished working on… new brand design and a new website. This has been happening in the background for some time and I’m delighted with how the new look is representing a compelling visual brand story. The next piece I’m working on is looking into a new product which is so exciting!