Co-founding a business will test even the strongest of friendships, but there is strength in numbers. Meet the Irish businesswomen partnering up to dream big.
After almost 25 years of friendship, creative director Kelly O’Toole and marketing director Sinead Meyler decided to join forces six months ago and create Two Birds Interiors. Based in Gorey, Co. Wexford, this formidable duo are known for their love of colour, quirky pieces and statement abstract art.
“We love the diversity of our jobs,” says Sinead. “One day we could be on site, the next we are abroad buying for the store. Each week brings new projects and we are always meeting new people through our store.”
“We are very lucky to be able to do what we love and love what we do.”
Although only in business a short time, they have already learned that working together offers many advantages. “Two heads are better than one and we bounce ideas off each other all the time. We are both mothers and there are days when one of us gets caught at home with a sick child, so we can cover each other that way if the need arises. We share the workload and have a better work / life balance because there are two of us.”
Forming a business with a pal isn’t without its challenges. “Our advice to anyone embarking on a new business with a friend is to set clear roles within the business. We had a fair idea of each other’s strengths as we have known each other for so long. It’s really important that both of you have the same goals and work ethic for your business to work.”
As for Two Birds’ future? “We look forward to expanding our stores, so that we can stock all the fabulous things we come across on our travels, and growing the business.”
Kelly O’Toole and Sinead Meyler of Two Birds Interiors
Combining their backgrounds in PR and brand marketing, Aoife Horgan and Debbie McCarthy teamed up in 2017 to establish VERSIFY, a full service communications agency. Having both worked within the beauty and lifestyle industry for over 12 years, their combined list of contacts, creativity and commercial acumen offers the brands they represent an agency with a difference. They currently count Rimmel, Sally Hansen, Trilogy, Skinician and NUK among their clients and represent a number of leading Irish influencers including Tara O’Farrell, Aimee Connolly and Nadia El Ferdaoussi.
Adapting to the changing needs of the industry, and offering a personalised service is just a small part of their USP.
“We plan to expand the team and our client base in the next year and are looking at diversifying into different sectors, whilst maintaining our bespoke approach,” says Aoife. “Learning is very important for us as the industry is changing at such a rapid pace. Content creation has become increasingly important for brands and something they are now willing to invest in. Creating beautiful content for brands that resonates with their audience is a key part of our strategy for the future.”
Aoife Horgan and Debbie McCarthy of VERSIFY.
Having established their business, Ten Four, earlier this year Grace Collins and Aisling Casey are already making an impact in the events industry. “We believe in fostering community through events and assisting brands in forming and maintaining meaningful relationships with their customers, which I think gives us a strong competitive edge,” says Grace. Specialising in fashion, luxury, retail and lifestyle sectors, these businesswomen love to incorporate innovative technology into their productions.
“It’s really important to us that we contribute to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint by producing sustainable events. Every little helps and we do our bit by sourcing local suppliers, using recyclable materials where possible and running a paperless office to name just a few of our efforts!”
Aisling and Grace’s combined experience and knowledge of the events industry makes for a solid duo. Earlier this year, they produced an activation at SXSW in Austin, Texas on behalf of their client Current Global, for which they received an accolade from Forbes. “It was a huge honour and came as a complete surprise to us. We didn’t even know Forbes were in attendance at the event!”
Finding your confidence in the workplace as a young woman starting out can be challenging, but Aisling and Grace believe in empowering others where they can.
“Always take that risk, believe in what you want, ask the silly question nobody wants to ask and put yourself forward for the challenge,” says Aisling. “We live by the saying ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ There is no need to be fearful of rejection or when the ball is in your court, saying no. Women tend to be natural people pleasers, but you’ve got to learn to say no to the ‘good’ so you can create space for great!”
Aisling Casey and Grace Collins of Ten Four.
Read more: The female Irish founders to watch
Read more: What Xposé’s Debbie O’Donnell did next
Read more: To book your ticket to the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year 2019.
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