I live in a small village outside Tullow in Co Carlow called Ardattin. I grew up here and have lived here all my life. My husband Robert and I live in a small cottage which we have just extended, with our dog Prince. My parents just live down the road, so I suppose that is where the name Ardattin Embroidery came from.

The embroidery journey

I took on embroidery as a hobby, it’s actually not in the family, nor did I have any initial interest in it, I didn’t even do home economics in school, but I was always into art and very creative.

After school I completed a marketing degree in Carlow IT and got a job working as a brand manager in Dublin.

At the time Robert was actually looking for branded clothing as he works for himself, and was finding it hard to get someone who would supply small amounts.

I did some research on embroidery and said, you know what, I might just purchase a machine and see how I get on. I didn’t know if I was going to like it and at the start I never had a big picture in mind, but it started to spiral when friends and family kept asking me to do stuff for them.

A couple of years ago I decided to bite the bullet and set up my own company. I bought a second machine, so I have two machines now and it allows me to take on more work and the turnaround times are quicker.

Producing personalised items

I kind of just went and taught myself how to use the machine and I got in touch with a girl up the country who looks after and services machines. She has been very good to me.

I use an Irish distributor for most of my products. I supply all the clothes. Whether it is teddy bears or jackets, I source it all.

If it’s a company logo or a tractor, I will ask the customer to send me a good-quality picture so I can work on the design. When the design is done I send it back to make sure they are happy with it and when they are, we will go ahead with the process.

When you are producing something that is quite personal and customised you want people to love it. When I see someone wearing one of my jackets out and about I am quite proud of it. I often see jackets that I made five years ago and think to myself, “wow, that is amazing”. I do an awful lot of work with the Irish Steam Owners Association. They got T-shirts done for road runs nearly 10 years ago and they are still on the go – it’s gas!

Loving the work

The work I do is quite varied, that’s why I love it. I get to work with such a big base of clients, but I suppose what I have become well-known for is the farming end of things like the tractors and animals and all the different companies that come along with them.

If you are a contractor and have a couple of people working for you, there is no better way of advertising than having your staff wearing clothes with your company name.

Farming is a job that you love and it’s your passion – you will want to show it off.

Embroidery can be a very rewarding job and the biggest compliment you can get is somebody coming back as a repeat customer or when you get a phone call from someone saying: “My friend is after getting a jacket and I would love to get one.” There is nothing nicer.

Support Irish businesses

The customers I have are so nice, I have received thank you cards and chocolates dropped up to me. That is worth more than anything, especially when you are on your own and you are a small business. Things like that really do mean the world.

In March this year I think everyone got a fright with the coronavirus. The fact everything was taken out of your control was quite scary.

In another way, it was kind of a good thing. It gave me time to focus and see exactly where I wanted to go. It made me more determined to make my business survive. I was striving harder to make sure everything I did was 110%. I think people have really bought into the idea of shopping local and supporting small businesses. It’s lovely to see everyone supporting each other.

I will work as hard as I can and keep going with what I have, the plan is to expand where I can and work with more organisations and companies. I will do what has to be done to keep going.

Ciara Stanley can be found on Facebook and on Instagram @ArdattinEmbriodery.