When did you set up your business and why?

I officially set up Mad Jessie in December 2018. It all started when, in 2016, one month before emigrating abroad, I herniated two discs in my back.

One morning I woke up, and I just couldn't move. For the next two and a half years, most of my time was spent in bed: I had injections, pain management and finally surgery. It was a long few years!

So, what did I do? I drew. I drew and drew and made little books and comics and art pieces, and then I started to draw designs for fabrics.

I began a 'start your own business' course with Waterford Chamber Skillnet and would arrive for three hours a day, lie on a bean bag, or kneel at the table, and then go home.

Little by little, I began to build the idea of a business and little by little my body began to heal, until two years later I launched my business Mad Jessie, selling outdoor apparel and accessories.

Can you explain your process?

I live on a small sailboat, so most of my inspiration comes from living on the water: a lot of my designs include drawings of the otters and swans (my neighbours!) and the wool hats I design are inspired by seafarers and adventurers.

I use sustainable materials wherever possible: the fabric my designs are printed on to create my snuzzles (aka tube scarves) is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles diverted from the ocean and I work closely with my friend, knitter and fellow businesswoman Caroline to create hats that are strong, long lasting and that tell a story.

MJ also works closely with friend, knitter and fellow businesswoman Caroline to create hats that are strong, long lasting and that tell a story.

Each item is carefully packaged in beautiful boxes that look plain on the outside, but are an explosion of colour on the inside and can be reused again and again. I write a thank you note with every order I send, as I think a personal thank you to my customers is so important.

What is your best seller?

The sustainable snuzzle is by far my best seller. I draw and design each one myself and they are then printed on this beautiful soft, seamless, breathable fabric. I only ever print 100 of any design, so each one is limited, and I usually have about 20 designs on the go.

Some of MJ Jacob's sustainable snuzzles.

What makes them so popular is that there is a design to suit every personality: from the music lover, to the festival fanatic, the farmer to the gardener, the unicorn or dog lover to the sea swimmer, each snuzzle has a special person in mind.

What is it about your business that brings you joy?

Opening a box of freshly printed snuzzles or newly knitted hats is pretty great, but the bit that brings me the most joy is the connections I get to have with my lovely customers.

They send me emails, photos and even videos sometimes to tell me about their walk along the beach or to say that they went to a place I recommended and loved it or they share images of themselves, their kids and dogs with me.

I often tell people how lucky I am because I have the nicest customers and I just love how we have connected and created relationships through Mad Jessie.

What are your hopes for 2023?

I have just begun to design sustainable snuzzles for businesses and other clients, where we sit down and come up with a design to suit their business, brand, club or organisation.

I really enjoy this process and have designed snuzzles for charities, festivals, schools and businesses. I hope to expand this part of my business, as it is great fun working with others and making their dream into a reality when it comes to promotional items or client gifts.

What advice would you give to another start-up business?

Share and support. Support other small businesses out there, share your knowledge with them, and about them.

Support them with a review, with a sale, with a testimonial. And share what they do with others.

And join the Facebook page Bite the Biscuit, an invaluable space of knowledge and sharing for small businesses and creatives.

Visit https://www.madjessie.com/

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