When did you set up your business and why?
After a pregnancy loss and many years of trying to conceive, my husband and I were blessed with identical twin girls.
While I was pregnant, I started to embroider their clothes, so I could tell who was who.
As a younger sibling who had lots of hand-me-downs, it was really special when I had something that was just mine, so I wanted that for my girls too.
People would often stop to ask me where I had gotten the girls’ cardigans from and friends would ask me to make them for them and it just kind of grew from there.
Eventually last year, I set up an Instagram account for Bobbin Beag (@bobbinbeag) and listed a few cardigans on Etsy.
I've always been creative and horse mad. I learned to sew when I was three years old.
My mother taught me how to use a sewing machine, but I never made anything conventional; I'd sew pieces of paper together before fabric.
I had planned to study veterinary, but after a last-minute change to my CAO application, I got accepted to study fine art at the Crawford College of Art and Design.
I did a course in Montessori teaching after that and taught in London for a few years before coming back to Cork and studying early years and childhood studies at UCC.
I loved teaching and also always wanted to have a shop that sold beautiful children's clothes and lovely accessories for dogs.
An odd concept, but I thought it could work well. Maybe Bobbin Madra could be my next direction?
Can you explain your process?
I have a fortnightly restock, where I list a number of cardigans in different sizes on my website www.bobbinbeag.ie. The restocks are usually on a Monday at 9pm.
You choose the cardigan you want to buy and then have the option to select an embroidery colour and what name(s) to have embroidered on the back. Each cardigan is unique and the colours and styles vary at each restock.
I also offer a few send-in slots, which are great if you want a particular colour or if your granny has knitted a cardigan or you had a family heirloom that you wanted to update. I often get sibling cardigans sent in so that they can all be matching.
I buy the cardigans mainly from local knitters in Cork and I do all the embroidery by hand myself.
What is your best seller?
The colours everyone seems to love the most are dusty rose and the blue and white striped cardigans. They are usually the first ones to go in restocks.
What is it about your business that brings you joy?
I suppose what brings me the most joy about having my own business is that I'm at home and I get to raise my girls.
I also love that I am being creative again and I love that I have something that is just for me, separate from being a mother or a wife.
I think when you become a mother of twins, and especially when you have lived through lockdowns in rural Ireland, it is easy to lose sight of who you once were and become quite isolated.
Through starting Bobbin Beag, I feel like I'm Anna again, even if it's only after 7pm.
I also love that I get to share in people's special moments, be it a pregnancy announcement, name reveal, christening, wedding day or birthday. It's such an honour.
What are your hopes for 2022?
To see more people's babies in Bobbin Beag cardigans! I just adore when I get sent photos of babies wearing the cardigans I embroidered.
I still can't believe that people want something that I make. It's amazing.
What advice would you give to another start-up business?
Just do it! I sat on my idea for years before I actually had the guts to put myself out there. Don't be afraid to ask questions and learn as you go either.
Time management is also really important. It took me a while to work out what my limits were and how much work I could take on around my family commitments.
For further information, visit www.bobbinbeag.ie.