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Former winner of IMAGE Entrepreneur of the Year shares tips for this year’s nominees


by Grace McGettigan
20th Sep 2018

no repro fee if Image Business Woman of the Year mentioned in caption Dearbhail McDonald, Entrepreneur of the Year Award winners Niamh Sherwin Barry and Aoife Lawler, Anne Keane from the Loop and Melanie Morris at the Image Business Woman of the Year Awards 2017 at the Clayton Hotel-photo Kieran Harnett

Nominations for the IMAGE Business Woman of the Year Awards 2018 are now open, but before you nominate your friend (or yourself), have a read of what it’s like to win. Aoife Lawler, co-founder of the Irish Fairy Door Company, won Entrepreneur of the Year at last year’s ceremony. She and her business partner Niamh Sherwin Barry were recognised for their entrepreneurial skills at a lavish ceremony, similar to the one this year’s nominees will enjoy on 19th November.

Nominate your friend or co-worker here

The idea for their business came just when they needed it most. Both were feeling the strains of the recession, and so they sought light-relief in the fairytales they told children. Soon they realised there was money to be made in children’s entertainment; the Irish Fairy Door Company was born in 2013. Five years on, Aoife and Niamh’s products are sold all over the world.

While nominations for this year’s Business Woman of the Year continue to pour in, Aoife sat down with us to chat through what it’s like to win, share advice for this year’s nominees, as well as dish her favourite memories from the night.

How has your life and business changed since winning your Entrepreneur of the Year award?

“I was forced from the shadows last year with winning the award. It’s not my comfort zone, but ultimately it gave the business a huge platform to reach new audiences, which is something very important for emerging businesses.”

What are your favourite memories from the awards night?

“My favourite memory is how unprepared Niamh and I were to win; we had to wing it.  That said, it was a memory I will always have; to have won the award for something Niamh, Gavin, Oisin and I built off the back of a brutal recession for our families.

“I loved sharing the moment with Niamh. It was nice and we had a good laugh, especially at how awkward I was in the photo shoot (I’m incapable of standing as I’m told).

“We also had a lot of our female entrepreneur friends at the table with us who were like our cheerleaders.  There is a genuine attitude of ‘good for you’ among these women and it was fantastic to have them there for us.”

What do you think are the key characteristics it takes to win Entrepreneur of the Year?

“A genuine story resulting in some level of success.  Being an entrepreneur is about creating something from effectively nothing, and bringing people on the journey with you so that everyone can see the value of what you offer.”

Have you any tips for nominees in this year’s entrepreneur category?

“Touch up your make-up before the category winners are called, because you just never know, and that camera is on you right away.”

Will you nominate yourself, a friend or a colleague for one of our nine Business Woman of the Year awards? Find out how to nominate here