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Image / Agenda / Business

My Career: The women of Ballyseedy Garden Centre


By Sarah Finnan
09th Mar 2023
My Career: The women of Ballyseedy Garden Centre

A family-run business in Tralee, Co Kerry, Ballyseedy Home & Garden grew from humble beginnings in a mobile home into the thriving business we see today – and with founder Bernie Falvey and daughter, Salome McDonnell at its helm, it’s in very good hands. Here they share more about their love of nature and what it takes to make the magic happen.

Bernie, founder

Did you always want to be a horticulturist?
Yes!

The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was… to be honest.

A common misconception about what I do is… both my own role and my daughter Salome’s role in the business are very clear and different, so we have full transparency.

My main responsibility in work is to… look after the team, our customers and ensure they have a positive experience at Ballyseedy, secondary then is plant care.

The biggest risk I have taken in my career so far is… our flagship store in Tralee expanded in 2007 prior to the recession hitting. That brought many challenges.

My morning routine is… I practice mediation to set myself up for the day. 

I can’t go to work without… we can’t go to work without a coffee!

I usually spend the first portion of the day… checking my stock, and doing what’s necessary, i.e. watering and feeding the plants.

I break for lunch at… 12.30pm and usually have a delicious cup of nourishing homemade soup from our café. 

The most useful business tool I use every day is… my own knowledge, I’m constantly upskilling in my field. 

I save time by… forward planning.

The best part of my day is… walking around in the evening and still loving the place!

The most challenging part of my day is… at 66 years of age, keeping my own energy levels up. 

I know it’s been a good day if… my team and customers are happy.

After a long work week, I destress by… walking on Banna beach. 

The accomplishment I’m most proud of is… having had children to give me grandchildren! They are my world. 

If you want to get into my line of work, my advice is to… follow your own personal interests. Our one piece of advice would be to work with your passion as it makes your working life so much easier.

I’ve just finished working on… I’ve just finished my first-year diploma on ancient wisdom and I’m currently working on my second year. Healing body, healing mind.

Salome, chief financial officer

In college, I studied… economics and finance at the University of Limerick.

My most formative work experience was… work experience with Grant Thornton, working in liquidation. It woke me up to the reality of the challenges you can face in business. 

My first real job was… working in Boots in Tralee to fund my third-level education.

Do you have a career mentor or someone you look up to/seek advice from?
I like to flesh certain issues out with my mother, as she has many years of experience.

I wake at… 6:30am. 

The first thing I do every morning is… check my emails.

I travel to work by… my electric car.

On an average workday, I start my working day at… we both put in between 8 and 16 hours depending on the seasonality.

We start the working day at… between 7am and 8am.

I rarely get through my working day without… drinking copious amounts of water.

I usually end my day at… it depends on the season; 5:30pm in the winter months, 8/8:30pm in the summer months. 

I switch off from work by… exercising, in particular running.

We often prepare for tomorrow by… prioritising our workload.