How did it all start for Croía Ireland?
I have always wanted to run my own business and I think that stems from looking up to my dad, who has worked so hard his whole life to develop the farm. It was the little things, like him being able to come in for a cup of tea during the day, that made me want to be my own boss.
I studied business and then went on to get my Level 9 in digital marketing. I worked with various charities here in Ireland and in New Zealand, on marketing campaigns and events. I have always loved helping others.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I was at the kitchen table listening to the radio. They were talking about all the small Irish businesses who would be badly impacted by COVID.
I thought about how I could combine my digital marketing expertise with my passion for helping others. That is where the idea for croiaireland.com came to life
Are you part of any business support groups?
I am part of the IGNITE programme at UCC, in association with the Local Enterprise Office. The workshops, idea sharing and networking opportunities are all a fantastic help for me as a young business owner.
Did you carry out market research before launching the platform?
I knew for a long time that there was a need for a single online store from which Irish businesses could sell. Amazon caters for worldwide shopping, but Irish people want to support Irish businesses and before Croía, we didn’t have a suitable platform to support that.
Of course, COVID-19 amplified the need for that online space and so I took the opportunity to develop my idea. While establishing the business, we had to look at our target customer.
At the end of the day, for us it is all about the small business owner and so we have to adapt as necessary and ensure that they are being looked after. So research and development should be ongoing.
How has your business been coping with COVID-19?
COVID-19 has actually helped our business take off, as people are now, more than ever, looking to buy from small Irish businesses. New research shows that beyond COVID-19, 60% of shoppers intend to continue supporting local businesses who sell online. We now have over 150 retailers registered and believe that Croía can still thrive when lockdown is over.
How important is job satisfaction to you, as a business owner?
If I didn’t have passion for what I do, I wouldn’t be doing it. It’s so important to find what you really love and then run with it.
Running a business requires long work hours and days, but it is worth it when I see a message from a small business, to say that because of Croía their sales have doubled, or they have had to take on another staff member. That is what keeps me going.
What is your best piece of advice for an aspiring entrepreneur?
Do not let other people’s opinions hold you back. Once you believe in your idea and have the passion to make it work, go with it! From growing up on a farm, I know that you just have to keep going, especially on those days that things go wrong. It will work out, as long as you have the passion to keep persevering.