Barry Walsh looks at 10 businesses from Wexford that demonstrate the county’s flair for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Located on Ireland’s south-east coast, Wexford county’s principal town owes its origins to the Vikings who founded a settlement there around 800 AD and named it it Veisafjǫrðr, meaning “inlet of the mudflats.”
The Wexford economy has enormous advantage with amenities like Rosslare Harbour, Hook Head Lighthouse and the Wexford Opera House within the county, to name a few.
A bustling tourist trade is also reflected in the famous Wexford strawberries, with Enniscorthy having an annual Wexford Strawberry Festival).
With more than 240km of coastline, the locals often boast that Wexford sees more sunshine than any other county in Ireland each year. With so much to offer it’s no surprise that there is a wide range of entrepreneurs in Wexford, active in everything from farming to technology and marketing to arts and crafts. Here are just some of the businesses to look out for:
Rob Tierney founded BoomMedia in 2015, which he describes as “a one-stop creative shop for all things digital.
“We know the importance of connecting with your consumers in an emotive way. From conception to delivery, we work with you to create eye-catching, brand-specific content and communicate your unique message to your consumers.” With clients such as Wexford Local Development, BoomMedia set to grow in 2022.
Trading under the brand name Clever Man, Drew Fox Brewing is Wexford’s newest Irish craft brewery and was founded by Malcolm and Andrea Molloy. Malcolm, a Dublin native, lived in the US for many years and met his Texan wife Andrea in Chicago. The couple own a pub in Chicago called The Grafton Pub & Grill. Their love of craft beer developed in the windy city. Malcolm and Andrea moved to Ireland and relocated to Wexford. They now have a range of beers, including American pale ales and stouts. Their products are stocked across Ireland and are set to grow as beer festivals and awards start to return post-Covid.
Based in The Spawell Centre in Wexford Town, EPIC is a social enterprise that was developed by Wexford Local Development. EPIC stands or “Enhancing Progress, Inspiring Change” and they live this mantra by providing employment to those who may find it difficult to get employment elsewhere. As they say on their website: “Our workshops provide training and real work experience in the design and manufacture of printed promotional materials. All profits generated by our EPIC social enterprise are reinvested in the business with the objective of helping people to rebuild their lives”.
The company includes services such as logo making and graphic design. They can supply bespoke items such as diaries, pens, cups, clothing and other promotional materials that clients may want to personalise. They also supply a full range of printed conference materials and were honoured to be awarded the contract to supply all the materials for a large international conference which is taking place in Ireland at the end of September organised by the OECD and hosted by the government of Ireland. EPIC will supply a range of eco-friendly conference folders, pens, carrier bags, note pads, badges, lanyards, t shirts etc. for the 400 international delegates who will attend the conference.
Gilly & Rob design their own range of greeting cards, mugs, clothing etc. with a touch of Irish banter. “Some with bold words. Ya know, that sort of thing,” they say on their website.
“At Gilly & Rob we believe that there is no situation that cannot be improved with a little bit of banter. Our designs are fun, funny, uniquely ours and uniquely Irish. All of our products are printed and manufactured by us in Wexford Ireland. We sometimes use bold words, so mind yourselves now.”
With more than 13,000 fans on Facebook their brand is set to grow in 2022.
Niamh Horgan created the Holos Skincare Company after working as a natural health therapist for 13 years. An advocate for ethically made skincare products, Niamh created her own line of products made with plant based materials that are eco-friendly, sustainably sourced, vegan friendly, made from recycled material, cruelty free and suitable for a range of age groups.
Since launching Holos has created more than 20 different product lines and is stocked in more than 80 outlets around Ireland. Having amassed a significant following on social media, Niamh and her team have won a host of awards, including the 2021 Champion of Free from Skincare Awards, Image Most Innovative Irish Brand in 2018 and appeared on the Irish Dragons Den in 2016.
Based in Enniscorthy, Mary Regan owns and runs Regan Organic Farm. Her research inspired her to go into farming organic meat in harmony with nature. Starting out with her 32 acre farm, Mary and her family have built up a very successful poultry business that has diversified into ducks and pork as well as tourism and training. The farm is certified organic and their own poultry abattoir was added in 2015, with the intention of reducing stress on the poultry by taking away the need to travel for processing. They can now be found in 15 stockists around Leinster.
Having initially created “Funky Goddess” Samantha found that she was interacting with customers far more than she envisioned and she became a bit of a marketing expert especially when it came to engaging with customers and businesses on Twitter and Linkedin. While creating a community and curating her business on Twitter, Kelly started doing the same for other businesses. She then sold her company and became a social media consultant on a full time basis. Now running Tweetinggodess.com, Kelly and her team act as social media consultants for corporates, having a 6 step programme to teach corporate companies and consultants or experts in their niche about social media with everything from building your brand online, to transforming your online presence. She also started Women’s Inspire Network in an effort to get more women to start their own business and create a network of those who already did.
Now it is a global network with the backing of Wedo an app for freelancers that helps consultants and freelancers get paid on time amongst other features. Samantha has been featured in Forbes, BBC, RTE, Euro news and is on many Global lists as one of the top social media influencers to follow. She has won many awards including the ‘Power Women award with VIP Magazine, Finalist in many awards including Image Businesswoman of the year and the Digital business Influencer of the year runner up.
Samantha has recently set up Women’s Inspire Network circles which are monthly meet ups. She hosts the monthly Wexford Circle. The Annual Women’s Inspire Network conference takes place on 5 October in Cork – more details here
A not-for-profit membership based community, The Wexford Food Family was created in 2011 to help support, grow and create food and drink producing businesses throughout Wexford. Through networking events, training workshops on how to start, run or grow your food business or introductions to local restaurants, cafes and bars; the 55 member organisation supports its community through providing information and events. Their tiered membership model has a range of prices for different sized businesses depending on the number of employees it has. As they say themselves “Communication is key to all business and the help and support we give to each other in an instant through our WA group help is always at hand.” As Wexford is one of the leading agricultural hubs of Ireland, it’s a tradition that the community wants to nurture and support in the future.
Created by brothers Simon and Nicky Lambert in 2015 in Pembrokestown, the award-winning brand has seen its operations grow from 200 litre barrels to a 6,000 square foot brewery in little more than a year. Their mantra is to get the freshest beers available to their customers. They now have more than 10 beers available in their product line including IPAs and lagers. In addition, they also have hoodies, baseball caps and even a Yellowbelly comic book for their fans to buy on their website. The company now employs 12 people and is hoping to open a tasting room and visitors centre next year. It is now also exporting to the UK and France.
Melissa Stone established Your Career Coach in 2020, having spent over 20 years’ working across the entire HR and Executive Coaching remit in Ireland, the UK, United States and Australasia. Through her Career Transformation Program, clients find clarity in their vision for the future, understand their key strengths, skills and passions, and create a strategic action plan to successfully land the dream career they will thrive in. Melissa is passionate about supporting females in the workplace, from returning to work following maternity or parental leave, to breaking through glass ceilings and successfully achieving career growth. Melissa is also a Mentor with “Mentor Her”, a program supporting females (or identifying as) in the UK and Ireland, helping mentees achieve the career success of their dreams.