When did you set up your business and why?

Like so many people, I turned to creativity during COVID lockdowns and started painting again. It was like meditation for me: I could only focus on what was on the canvas and I would lose track of time.

We had a few milestone birthdays in the family, which were difficult to celebrate during that time. I wanted to mark the occasion and give them a meaningful gift, so I gave them paintings of their pet or a landscape of a place that held special memories for them.

It was a lifelong ambition of mine to set up a creative business, but life got in the way. COVID made me realise how life can change overnight. It made me re-evaluate my life and to quote Mary Oliver: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

I felt, if not now, when?

Can you explain your process?

My mother always used to say that no education is ever wasted.

I decided to use my background in interior design and textiles and combine it with my love of painting and nature and have my paintings printed on to textiles.

During and after COVID, people were appreciating nature and the outdoors more and getting pet dogs. Artzy combines both these factors.

The best-selling Luna tote by Siobhan Kennedy of Artzy.ie.

I used my pet portraits and landscapes as themes for totes and cushions.

The bags and cushions are all printed using eco-friendly fabric and ink and handmade in Ireland. All my products are designed, printed and handmade in Ireland. This is important to me.

What is your best seller?

My Luna totebag with a portrait of a beautiful black Schnauzer dog with a green background is popular.

The most popular velvet cushion, Lady Jo, is inspired by a mountain landscape and named after my aunt Jo, who was also an art teacher and a lifelong supporter and encouraged me to be creative.

A cushion from the Artzy range by Siobhan Kennedy.

The velvet collection is named after the four most important women in my life: my mother, my aunt and my two daughters.

What brings you joy?

Setting up Artzy helped to give me a positive focus during dark times and collaborating with family and friends to get it over the starting line has been so life-affirming.

My talented college friend Adam Gallacher from Akamee Brand and Design created the Artzy logo and my brother Eoin from UpDate Digital Marketing built my website.

I am working on designing a new fabric to use for dog bandanas and my mother-in-law agreed to sew them for me, so it will be a family affair!

Unfortunately, my mother and aunt did not live to see Artzy, so I wanted to honour them by naming the velvet collection after them.

I want to be a positive role model for my daughters. I think it is important for them to work hard and follow their passion, so I hope to lead by example.

I have learned so much from online courses with Kildare LEO and fellow creators at craft markets. I love meeting other artists and customers.

It is so rewarding to get feedback from customers and see their reaction to my work. Sometimes they can get emotional if their pet has passed away and they look like one of my pet portraits.

Another customer bought a landscape painting as they were living abroad and unable to get home due to travel restrictions and they were homesick when they saw the Irish landscape.

I was honoured when they sent me a photo of the painting hanging up in their home. It is so lovely to know something you created brings somebody comfort.

What are your hopes for the next year?

I intend to expand my product range to include greetings cards, prints, notebooks, mugs and I am designing fabrics for lampshades, which will co-ordinate with a new range of cushions.

My products are available on my website, but I would love if they were available in craft shops and interior design outlets. I aim to exhibit at ArtSource in the RDS next year.

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

My advice to somebody starting out would be to just take the leap of faith. Take a step in the direction you want to go and the road will appear. Upskill, work hard and follow your passion: life is too short not to.

Visit www.Artzy.ie or follow @artzyoriginals on Instagram.

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