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Don't believe everything your family says: babywear entrepreneur

But you should ask everyone you can for advice, Happynest founder says.

Christine Carolan.
Christine Carolan.

BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD get as much advice as they can – just don’t trust everything your family tells you.

That is the advice from Dublin designer Christine Carolan, who turned her redundancy two years ago into a successful small business, Happynest, making “reversible” baby clothes for the traditionally colour-minded.

Carolan told TheJournal.ie that the idea first came when she found herself unemployed and at home with two young daughters after her job with a major multinational ended.

“I obviously wanted to earn a living and I’ve always designed clothes as a hobby,” she said.

I decided to just take a risk and start a business – I began designing items around babies and baby products because I had two, young children myself.”

From concept to launch

Carolan contacted the Local Enterprise Office in Fingal and discovered they were holding a 12-week course on starting your own business the following week, so she signed up and began exploring ways to get her idea off the ground.

“The whole concept is that they are reversible from pink to blue so a purchaser can buy them ahead of the birth of a child,” she said.

With the help of a small grant, she was able to produce prototypes of her design and eventually, after another cash injection, put her wares into production.

Her brand launched in March and Carolan said she now had three Irish retailers on board to sell her products and another two in Scotland, in addition to her website.

So how do I do that?

After her own experiences learning how to set up a business from scratch, she recommended enlisting outside help – starting with local small-business support networks.

“I didn’t have a very strong accounting background – it just isn’t my thing – so I got someone to help with that process,” she said.

And Carolan’s other top piece of advice? Don’t just take opinions on your bright ideas from your near-and-dear.

“Your family love you and they care about you, but they might not be objective,” she said.

Five tips from Carolan for budding entrepreneurs

  • Use all the advice available to you – contact your Local Enterprise Office, find a mentor
  • Explain your business idea to people outside your family. Loved-ones can’t always be relied on to give an objective opinion
  • Do your research, make sure there is a need out there for what you want do
  • Get your message out – use social media and the internet. Don’t wait for customers to come to you, because they won’t!
  • Be prepared for a lot of hard work to get your business off the ground

Fingal Enterprise Week, which runs from October 6 until October 10, will this year feature a day dedicated to startups, as well as a workshop on trends in the technology sector and other topics.

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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