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Image / Editorial

These are the Irish female founders to watch


by Rosie McMeel
15th Oct 2019
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Ireland is full of brilliant Irish businesses founded by women. Here, we highlight just a few of the incredible leaders of businesses big and small. 


Margaret O’Rourke, founder MoMuse

Building on knowledge gained through roles in retail, sales and advertising, Margaret O’Rourke (pictured above) founded MoMuse, a charming jewellery store based in Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. Ten years later, the brand has grown in ways she could never have dreamed of. “MoMuse has evolved from a costume jewellery brand into a fine gold brand, that offers the customer a relaxed environment where they can select from our own brand of jewellery designs or select from a range of Irish made lifestyle products.”

The last decade of business hasn’t been without its hurdles. “The biggest challenge has been evolving with new designs and products to offer a unique shopping experience. All businesses are like cycling, if you don’t keep moving forward you’ll fall off.”

Margaret credits her husband, “who always gives the best advice” and a strong USP as keys to her success. “Retail is changing a lot. I’ve seen many people come and go in 10 years. It’s important to have a really strong online presence with a creative website and to spend time in your own business.”

 

Nicola Connolly, founder of Nunaïa

Nicola Connolly, founder of Nunaïa

Relatively new to the beauty block, Nunaïa is an Irish brand founded on principles of efficacy, community, self-care and sustainability. What started out as a personal adventure to South America led to a cult beauty hit and an innovative business with a bright future. Inspired by the people and the plants of the Amazon, Nicola developed a nourishing facial oil.

Now stocked in over 13 retailers, Nicola’s brand is flourishing, but running a beauty brand isn’t seamless. “Nunaïa challenges me every day to push my boundaries and grow,” says Nicola. “It can be uncomfortable, but it’s also hugely rewarding watching the dream turn into a reality and seeing our first product, our Nourishing Radiance Serum on shelves, winning awards and being welcomed into bathrooms all over the world.”

When it comes to inspiration, she doesn’t have far to look. “I admire all women who take the risk of setting up their own business, as it takes a huge amount of courage, hard work and determination. In the beauty sector, Jen Rock stands out for me as she is so honest about the ups and downs of setting up and running her very successful business and I find that hugely inspiring. I also admire Chupi and how her passion and creativity is felt in every ounce of her brand.”

When it comes to starting a business, Nicola has one major rule of thumb: “Work every day on your self-belief. Setting up a business will throw curve balls and challenges in your path, but if you’re clear about what you’re doing and why and can hold on to this self-belief, everything else will fall into place.”

Enter here for IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year 2019

Suzanne McClure and Laura Brock, founders of Brock McClure Consultants.

Laura Brock & Suzanne McClure, founder Brock McClure Consultants

While the early years are difficult for all start-ups, launching a town planning consultancy in 2012 when the property market was virtually at a standstill brought extra hurdles to overcome. Surviving those tentative first years is probably the biggest testament to Laura and Suzanne’s resilience and vision. Today, an award-winning consultancy firm offering bespoke and direct advice, they specialise in large-scale residential development across the country, and provide commercially focused planning advice on a number of hotel, office and industrial projects.

“Our biggest challenge has been a positive one – how to manage growth of the business. It was very straightforward to forecast, budget, and manage capacity when it was just the two of us and our laptops. Now we are responsible for a team of staff,  servicing large projects in diverse sectors, and it’s a constant challenge to keep ahead of our pipeline of work. No complaints though,” says Suzanne.

Working in a male-dominated industry also provided added challenges in the early days, but Laura says things are changing. “This is definitely less of an issue now compared to when we started our careers. Fifteen years ago, you would often be the only woman at a design team meeting, whereas today, we’re now finding that often a majority of the professionals around the table are women – from the client, architect, engineer, planner, ecologist, landscaper etc. That is really refreshing and, in our view, indicative of change in our industry.”

Loretta Kennedy, founder & CEO of MamaBear Foods Ltd

Loretta Kennedy, founder & CEO of MamaBear Foods Ltd

Loretta Kennedy confesses she was “pretty clueless” when she started making ketchup at her kitchen table. But what set out as a mission to give her children a healthier alternative to store-bought condiments has become a booming business. Two years later, she’s the proud owner of MamaBear Foods Ltd and boasts a national contract with Aldi. “Trying to launch a company whilst upskilling with business courses and holding down a part-time job, and raising a family was crazy,” she says. “But this is the reality for many female entrepreneurs out there.”

Clearly bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Loretta has grand visions for the future of her brand. “I want to go as big as I can and have a global name, which is synonymous with healthy snacks and condiments, along with a commitment to ethical production, quality ingredients and plastic-free packaging.”

Global ketchup domination aside, she also has plans to set up a supportive retreat to help other female entrepreneurs as they begin their own journey. “I’ve three daughters and I love that they’ve seen me take an idea and turn it into a business that provides for us as a family and creates employment for others. I want them (and others) to know that they can and should take a chance on an idea. Life is short and we only get one trip around the block.”

Read more: One week left to enter IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year 2019

Read more: What Xposé’s Debbie O’Donnell did next 

Read more: How I Spend My Working Day – digital entrepreneur Dervla Louli Musgrave

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