Person Profile: Audrey supported by PAUL Partnership
When Audrey approached the PAUL Partnership Enterprise Support Service in 2009, she had been out of the labour market for a long time. She was a carer for an elderly parent, with a grown-up family, and a husband on an average industrial wage. For years, she had dreamed of having a meaningful role in the labour market but never envisaged herself as a business woman.
However, Audrey had recently enrolled in a further education college in Limerick City on a part-time basis to study design and craft. During this time, she came up with a business idea – to open an art and craft retail shop – and came to PAUL Partnership for advice on how to realise her business idea.
The PAUL Partnership Enterprise Support Team met with Audrey to discuss her initial idea. Following this advice, Audrey spent up to two years researching the market for her potential business. She also completed several PAUL Partnership Enterprise Training Programmes including Marketing Principles and FETAC level 5 accredited Marketing Management Development Programme as well as attending Business Planning Workshops provided by PAUL Partnership.
As a result of this training, networking and research, Audrey began to reshape her business idea in order to make it more viable and sustainable in the long term. At this point in the process, the Enterprise Support Team appointed a Business Mentor to work with Audrey and to help her to develop her business idea into a more low-cost, skills-based and higher value added market offering.
Following her work with the mentor and the development of a revised business plan, Audrey started a stall in the Limerick Milk Market whereby she selects and sells craft and design products produced by students in local art colleges. Audrey obtains a fee from students for showcasing the product as well as a commission on the sale of the product.
Since then, Audrey’s business has gone from strength to strength. She has teamed up with other local designers and entrepreneurs to form a Business Co-operative. The Co-operative has recently opened up a retail outlet in Limerick city centre, selling 100% Limerick craft and design products. Audrey trades under the label Arty Crafty Stuff.
According to Audrey, she is still on “a journey”, but the combination of the advice and guidance from the Enterprise Support Team, the business mentoring, and enterprise training, has greatly increased her confidence levels, and her business, decision-making, and networking skills – all of which are contributing to a successful small enterprise and filling a unique market niche.
“I find it is very easy to relate to the PAUL Partnership with regard to business queries and advice, they are very accessible which helps me progress in my business and to continue to take positive actions. Having a mentor assigned who has given me great confidence and creativity in making good decisions. The business has been set up without grants but what was important was access to expertise and information plus my own drive and the back up of the craft and design courses which I pursued prior to setting up my business.”