June 17, 2016

To Hold You Soft And Near

Surgery of any kind can leave us feeling raw and vulnerable; this is after all an attack on the body, albeit well-intentioned. For the breast cancer survivor, this sense of rawness isn't helped by the limited range of supports available post-surgery. Adapting to the changes that have been made to the dy, with post-surgery sites typically still painful and sensitive, just isn't easy.

An Underwear Hero

When lingerie retailer Ciara Donlon noticed how breast cancer survivors were so poorly served by existing brands, she set out to research what they wanted in a bra in particular, and designed the Theya Healthcare range, pretty, feminine and designed to the highest eco standards.

This week's Kickstart Your Business featured guest consulted directly with over 80 survivors to tailor garments that are made from bamboo (which produces the softest cloth) and feature no tags or seams, all designed to minimise irritation on the tender post-operation skin.

Underwear That Hugs Rather Than Strangles

George was immediately struck by the extraordinary depth of research which Ciara had conducted in order to bring her range to market. I agreed that Ciara's dedication is highly unusual, and had been rewarded with extraordinary loyalty and gratitude from a market that has been largely ignored, if the many testimonials on TheyaHealthcare.com are anything to go by.

I commented that these testimonials, whilst impressive, are often quite lengthy, and suggested that Ciara extract some of the neater expressions of gratitude, and make them available on the homepage in order to encourage prospective customers that they have come to the right place. For example, "I was looking for underwear that hugs rather than strangles" captures brilliantly the immediate benefit Theya offers.

Add Your Words Of Support

Can you suggest how Ciara might continue to grow her Theya Healthcare brand from strength to strength?

Listen back to Ciara on Kickstart Your Business and let us know what you think.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on Newstalk.com.

June 10, 2016

A Pocketful Of Squares

They say great style never goes out of fashion, but it's taken the rise to prominence of slick dresser Conor McGregor, and the popularity of TV programmes such as Peaky Blinders and Mad Men to turn a whole new generation on to the appeal of such fashion items as the traditional waistcoat, three-piece suit and all the trimmings.

Mainstream brands such as Ted Baker, Paul Smith and our own Louis Copeland have played their part too, but the dedicated follower of fashion (and his other half) is likely to want to develop his own distinctive style, and wander away from the high street to find those off-beat accessories that finish an outfit with a flourish.

Hip To Be Square

This week's guest on Kickstart Your Business, William Jenkins, has long been a dedicated follower of fashion. When he and his partner Maeve were exploring potential opportunities in the world of gentleman's attire, they identified the once-popular but now lesser-spotted pocket square (or handkerchief) as a classic accessory that's been largely overlooked by the main fashion retailers.

They've set up their own fashion accessories brand MrJenks.com, and are working closely with traditional craftsmen and designers in Italy to bring a range of 100% silk and uniquely patterned pocket squares to market. Their pocket squares are available to purchase directly from them online, or through a small number of high-end retailers such as Louis Copeland and Henry Jermyn in Dublin.

A range of cuff knots and lapel pins are also coming into the mix, and the pair are determined to become a leading men's fashion accessories' brand in a world crying out for those little flashes of colour and detail that finish off a suit.

Celebrity Squares

Mr. Jenks appealed hugely to George's sense of style; he was quick to remind us that the young George Hook typically sported a silk pocket square back in the day.

I suggested that William and Maeve's challenge is to drive demand whilst establishing themselves as the go-to brand for sharp accessories, no easy task for a start-up. Whilst celebrity endorsements are often an elusive prize, George generously offered to model Mr. Jenks' pocket squares; in Ireland in particular the support of highly-visible figures can go a long way towards building the profile of the ambitious start-up.

Throw Your Hat In The Ring

How do you suggest William and Maeve build their profile and business in this highly competitive market.

Listen back to William on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia) and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on Newstalk.com.

June 03, 2016

A Place At The Table

Although it's a popular claim, one size fits all hardly ever works for everyone. Invariably, that one size that seems to suit everyone else, leaves someone feeling very left out. Not much fun if you're that someone on the outside looking in. For anyone hosting an activity for people of different abilities then, the challenge is to create place where everyone feels equally welcome and involved.

Willing And Able

Our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business, Caríosa Sullivan of AbleTable.ie, introduced a true one size fits all solution that naturally makes a space for people of all abilities to sit around the table and interact easily. When Caríosa's mum and Special Needs Assistant Esther was looking for a table for her classroom, she was unable to find one. One size simply didn't fit all. And so she asked her husband Martin, who's pretty handy, to make one and he created the first Able Table.

The Able Table is designed in such a way that able-bodied and people of varying abilities can eat, work and play side by side without anyone feeling left out. Caríosa and Martin are now manufacturing Able Tables for a growing and eager market in both the mixed abilities and senior sectors where disability of any kind can often mean subtle and not so subtle exclusion from social activities.

Tabling A Discussion

Both Shane Coleman (sitting in for George) and I were immediately won over by Martin's very simple solution to a complex problem, and admired both his ingenuity and can-do attitude, often the hallmarks of the great entrepreneurs.

However, I suggested that they are being too coy in presenting their pricing to potential customers on their website in particular. Now this is a not uncommon challenge facing someone who wants to make a difference, but struggles to put a commercial value on the difference they make. When a prospective customer, whether carer or client, knows the cost of something, then they're much better placed to determine the value of it, and able in turn to make an informed decision around their purchase. Keeping people at arms length from this all-important detail simply doesn't make for good business.

Pull Up A Seat

Why not visit AbleTable.ie and suggest how else Caríosa and Martin can make a place at the table for more and more customers?

Listen back to Caríosa on Kickstart Your Business  (with thanks to Energia) and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on Newstalk.com.