We catch up with the young women behind Brace Yourself...
We don't know what it is about the month of August, but it always inspires nostalgia in us. Maybe it's the threat of a sharp weather change, or maybe the media obsession with young girls jumping in the air holding their leaving cert results that evokes yesteryear. Either way we're in a memory trap trading secondary school memories - influential teachers, teachers who made you quit home economics, weird one-way system hallways while waiting for the Department of Education to approve a grant? It was far from Summer Bay High we were raised. However the young women of Brace Yourself, a breakout Transition Year mini compnay, are putting us all to shame with the roster of prizes they're amassing after inventing a plastic hook that helps fasten bracelets and zips. Brace Yourself won this year's For?ige Youth Entrepreneurs of the Year and has seen the Maercy College students (Rianne Keaveney, R?is?n Shaw, Sinead Fitzsimons, Sinead D'Arcy, Samantha Scanlon, Paula Ortiz and Leah Friedrich) take their success story to business bootcamps in Limerick Universty, international competitions in Estonia with a trip to Vienna in November also on the cards.
The award-winning idea was inspired by Rianne's Grandmother, who was struggling to put on bracelets after losing power in one of her hands. A Mini Company class later and a plan was put into action. One of Rianne's family members owns a plastic moulding factory in Sligo who the girls consulted with throughout the design process. ?The design was difficult because we didn't know a lot about plastic. We also didn't really know how to make a product that would be successful. Rianne designed the product and with the help of the designers in Sligo Tool & Die, we created the product. The first product we made was unsuccessful as the hooks were too short and the links for the bracelet kept sliding off. We re-designed the product, making one hook longer and curving the other inwards.?
Once the design was refined the product took off. For people with rheumatoid arthritis and mobility issues Brace Yourself is a godsend. The product is a word-of-mouth success and will be for sale this weekend at the All-Ireland Fleadh in Sligo. The students cited IMAGE Networking Breakfast speaker Ramona Nicholas as oen of their main role models as she's also a female entrepreneur from the West of Ireland. Keep your eyes peeled, these girls might be the next dragons?
Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun