The reality of many Irish homes in 2021 is that of a balancing act, between parenting and work; braving last week’s unopened emails and tomorrow’s spelling test, all from the kitchen table. For our conversation, Laura Maher Hora closes the kitchen door and reminisces on her days of marketing at her family’s bicycle wholesale and distribution business.
“There was no designated marketing sector in my dad’s business, so I went in to help out and ended up staying for about 13 years. When I look back now, everything I did was for the aesthetic. I would remodel show rooms and help customers with retail design. I always loved interiors.”
Laura’s family business closed in 2017 and in 2018, pregnant with her second child, she knew life would be different. Laura decided being her own boss in her own business was the best way forward. In the meantime, she and her husband had also built their new energy efficient home and Laura set up an Instagram page, to share her beautiful home interiors and accessories.
“I was doing some research into home accessory suppliers, when I came across these faux flowers. I was constantly buying fresh bunches for the house, but it is so well insulated that they were literally dying within days. I ordered some to see what they would be like at home. When they arrived I was blown away by their quality.”
A perfectionist by nature, Laura spent a huge amount of time trying to polish a business model, before launching.
“My sister who runs her own business said to me ‘Just start. You have to start somewhere.’ In my mind, I felt I needed to have the website perfect and I needed to have full stock before launching, but I was wrong.
“I launched The Irish Country Home in 2019, with just faux flowers and it took off by itself. And because I had started up my Instagram page before, I already had a keen group to sell to.”
Importance of online
While it is not essential that every business has an e-commerce website, having an online presence is more important now than ever, Laura agrees.
“I wish other business owners knew how easy it is to get set up online. And if they don’t know how to do it themselves, they should ask a staff member.
“It doesn’t take much to update your Facebook page, to say ‘we are still open for collection or delivery’. There are businesses that don’t even do that much and they are the ones that will unfortunately fall behind. Everybody wants to support local, but if the local shop doesn’t have some online presence, people may forget.”
Laura is a testament to all multi-tasking mothers, who find themselves negotiating and delegating with children and clients on a daily basis.
“You don’t want to ignore the kids, but there are emails to be answered and orders to be sent out. So I try to get up an hour or two before them in the morning to do those jobs. I try to just take it day by day. I close the computer at a certain time and bring them out for a walk or something – to give them my full attention.”
While the majority of us remain at home scrutinising our interiors, Laura’s business progresses, as she continues to liaise closely with her online customer base.