Back for Business: Shemaine Doyle

Dubliner Shemaine Doyle returned from the Middle East to establish Brave, a marketing agency focused on challenger food and beverage brands.

Brave founder Shemaine Doyle is a recent alumni of the Irish Government’s Back for Business programme.

The Back for Business programme was created in 2018 to foster and support entrepreneurial activity among Irish emigrants returning to Ireland. Now in its seventh year, Back for Business has helped entrepreneurs to significantly grow sales and employment.

“My mantra was that I’d rather do it and fail than not do it and regret it”

Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Back for Business is seeking up to 50 applicants from returned and returning Irish emigrants that wish to start and develop businesses in Ireland. They are invited to apply to participate in the development programme which is tailored to their needs. There is no cost to those selected. 

This cycle will run from February to June 2024. The closing date for applications is 5pm on Monday 15 January 2024. Those interested in learning more about applying for Back for Business 7 can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application form by visiting Back for Business.  

Being Brave

When Shemaine Doyle, who is from Firhouse in Dublin, left Ireland in 2010 she was motivated by a simple desire to go somewhere abroad.

“All you need is that one little break and that is the catapult to start. It’s like a domino effect”

She had been working in marketing for Cuisine de France and approached two of the directors who were leaving to set up a bakery business in Dubai. “I knew they weren’t going to move out there, so I offered to go to Dubai and had moved over within two months,” she says.

Shemaine intended to go for two years but ended up staying away for 11. She stayed with Cuisine Royale, which imported par-baked bakery products into the Middle East, for a couple of years before taking on the role of Marketing Manager for Costa Coffee for Emirates Leisure Retail.

“Emirates Leisure Retail is the hospitality arm of Emirates Group. They own and operate 150 Costa Coffee stores throughout the UAE. They also have Pret a Manger, Giraffe, a lot of bespoke brands that they have created and a lot of collaborations with beverage brands,” she says. “I started out as Marketing Manager and became Head of Marketing for the group.”

While in Dubai, Shemaine got married and had two children, which ultimately led to her moving back to Dublin in 2021. “We knew our parents weren’t getting any younger, and we wanted to rear our kids in Ireland. We knew it was a better quality of life and a better place for our kids to grow up, close to family,” she says.

“On a professional level, I knew I was coming to a junction in my career where I was going to make a big change, but I wanted to ensure my kids came first. It made sense that that was going to happen in Ireland.”

Shemaine says returning to Ireland has definitely worked out well. “It’s wonderful because I’m close to my family and within a few hours we can be with my husband’s family in Wales. There’s nothing that can beat that sense of being home and being in this familiar place again,” she says.

She set up her marketing agency, Brave, in August 2022. Brave is focused on unlocking opportunities for challenger food and beverage brands and bringing them to life in brave and bold ways.

“I have an absolute passion for food and a passion for marketing, so, I set up Brave. My mantra was that I’d rather do it and fail than not do it and regret it. It was quite easy to start. It’s all about networking and people and getting out there,” she says.

Brave works with businesses on a strategic level to identify where they have growth opportunities and then helps them to bring those opportunities to life. “We support food and beverage businesses on all of their marketing needs. Marketing is a critical pillar to support the growth of businesses but not every business can afford a marketing team and that’s where we come in and support and advise them on how to get the most out of their marketing budgets.”

Shemaine says winning her first client was a stand-out moment for the business. “All you need is that one little break and that is the catapult to start. It’s like a domino effect,” she says.

Shemaine found that the Back for Business programme was a great help to her. “It’s the support. It’s the network. It’s learning. It’s being driven and being mentored and motivated. I would 100 percent recommend it to anybody coming home and setting up a business,” she says.

Shemaine has a portfolio of some well-renowned Irish and international food and beverage brands, and she has two people working for her with a plan to keep growing but in a way that fits around family life. 

ThinkBusiness, powered by Bank of Ireland, has been created for Irish business owners and managers who are seeking information, resources and help on a range of business topics. It provides practical, actionable information and guidance on starting, growing and running a business.