What was the seed that grew into what is now your food business?
We started initially when we rented a farm in rural Galway where we had a flock of sheep. I’m not from a farming background but I love working with animals. The original idea of working with goats, developed from a dream! After the midnight inspiration, we researched and discovered there was a niche for goat meat in Ireland.
I have a very varied work/education background. I studied Applied Biology at GMIT, ended up working in retail and as a secretary. I trained pet dogs as a side career, had my first child returned to retail, this time it was a supermarket and I got to try many departments, but most of all enjoyed the HACCP and cooking in the deli. Looking back, I now know that all of this prepared me for running my own business. Knowing a little about a lot of things in different areas and sectors helps me with our business.
What has been the biggest challenge you have overcome or lesson you have learnt as a female food entrepreneur?
Certain aspects of working in the agricultural sector are presumed to be a male dominated environment. I am and have been oblivious to this club and carry on in my own best interests. I think as a mother it gives me a softer approach to closing deals, I much prefer to form relationships and build networks with my market.
However, my biggest challenge lies in balancing my work life and family life, it all seems to overlap – especially because we work from home. There is no office door to close at 5pm – having a partner, three kids a farm enterprise and a food business feels like it is 24/7 business.
What advice would you give to aspiring female food entrepreneurs?
If there had been (female entrepreneurial) training available to you before you set up your business would you have engaged with it? Did you do any training?
Of course, any resources and help in the complicated world of creating a business would be and is helpful in my opinion. I have attended a quite a few Local Enterprise Office (LEO) short courses and I have done the GMIT springboard Food and entrepreneurship course. I feel these have really impacted me and my business in a very beneficial way.
If you were interested in engaging with training/further training what areas would be of most interest to you?
It’s hard to say but skill building is very important. My training so far has given me more focus for the direction I want my business to go in and the ability to put the necessary systems in place to do so. It has also opened a lot of networking doors for me as a woman in business. Training has also allowed me develop networks with other likeminded people and experts to communicate and learn from.
While setting up and running a business is an ever-developing process and it can be lonely especially if you are located in a rural location therefore training provided opportunity for me to develop important connections.