IGNITE UCC entrepreneur Ciara Hennebry’s venture Croía Ireland was born out of a passion and desire to help and support Irish businesses.

Throughout the pandemic, Irish businesses of every shape and size were challenged to evolve and adapt to a new sales model to make them accessible to the changing needs of Irish consumers.

“It is widely recognised that it is currently too difficult for the consumer to buy Irish products online,” says Croía Ireland founder Ciara Hennebry.

“Every euro spent on Croía is worth five euro to the Irish economy. Through the multiplier effect, Croía Ireland is having a positive knock-on effect on the Irish economy”

“This is highlighted by the fact that in 2019, 64% of revenue from online shopping went to businesses outside of Ireland. Not only is this divesting out of local companies in Ireland, but it is creating a negative trend for economic growth in Ireland.

“Many Irish websites are difficult to navigate, there are also many Irish brands who do not have a website of their own. This can be detrimental to a business, as a large proportion of a successful company’s revenue is now generated through online sales.”

Buy from us, we’re Irish

Wrapped box in gold paper and green ribbon.

Croía Ireland offers a solution to this problem by providing a platform for Irish businesses, allowing them to showcase their products to consumers, both nationally and internationally, while also maintaining a user-friendly website. 

“Not only are we allowing Irish consumers to discover new Irish brands, we are also helping Irish businesses to increase their sales, brand awareness and reputation, access a large online market, and enable them to compete with large international retailers. We also provide our suppliers with qualified marketing and business development expertise to help them grow their brand.

“Our target market is focused on the 25- to 64-year-old age bracket. We target the younger market online, both domestically and internationally. Domestically we want to make buying Irish the done thing. Internationally, we want to target the Irish diaspora living and working abroad by providing them with a platform that they can use to purchase their favourite Irish products that can be delivered to addresses at home in Ireland and abroad. The size of this market is over 2m in Ireland and over 80m people of Irish heritage living abroad.”

Connecting the best businesses

Croia Ireland logo.

“Think of us as your very own Irish version of ASOS for buying all things Irish. We provide a service for both the consumer and the supplier”

Croía Ireland is a one-stop-shop for buying Irish products online, connecting the best Irish businesses with consumers worldwide.

“Our website was launched on November 25th, 2020 and to date we have over 150 Irish brands and more than 800 products live on our site, making it easier for consumers to buy Irish and support local businesses.”

Hennebry explained that Croía Ireland partners with Irish brands, from established companies such as Carter Beauty to smaller artisan brands.

“Think of us as your very own Irish version of ASOS for buying all things Irish. We provide a service for both the consumer and the supplier.

“For the consumer we provide an online platform where they can shop directly on our site. For the supplier, we host the site and provide the consumer base, and they manage their own account and upload all their products. When a consumer purchases a product, the supplier receives an email and dispatches the product.

“Every euro spent on Croía is worth five euro to the Irish economy. Through the multiplier effect, Croía Ireland is having a positive knock-on effect on the Irish economy. At Croía Ireland we are strengthening the Irish economy by providing an easy and accessible way for Irish consumers to shop local. We are creating a community of Irish businesses, of all sizes, and helping them to maximise their potential by reaching a wider audience and providing business support packages. By doing so we are not only creating jobs in our economy but also ensuring that we are having this positive knock on effect on our local and national economy.”

Entrepreneurial awakening

Hennebry completed a BSc in Business at Waterford Institute of Technology and in 2019, she completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Digital Marketing at the Digital Marketing Institute.

“I have always wanted to become and entrepreneur from a young age.

“I set up my own business at the age of 16 and I loved the feeling of freedom and the feeling of been able to do something you love and create a living from it. From then I knew I wanted to become an entrepreneur.”

She feels the Irish start-up ecosystem offers founders plenty of support. “They are lots of amazing support programmes in my region, especially IGNITE which I am current participating in. Overall, for start-ups the support is there, and people will help you, but you need to firstly look for help and listen and work as hard as you can to achieve your goals.”

She is currently fundraising to scale the business to the next level.

She believes a flexible and adaptable approach to business is essential for founders. “You need to be able to quickly identify what’s working and what’s not working and act on it. You need to be able to change to meet your consumers needs quickly. The most important thing is you need to listen to what the consumer wants not what you want.”

Always be selling

Equally important is believing in your dream. “Make sure what you are doing is your passion. When you love what you do it makes it more sustainable and a lot more enjoyable.

“Do the maths; you will have to change, tweak, and adapt as you go. But you need a solid plan of your goals and what money you want in and out- sounds simple but a lot of people don’t do this and find out a few months later that it’s not visible so ensure it actually adds up before you proceed.

“Sell everyday; focus on the big picture, a lot of people when they start their business can get caught up on the small things. But at the end of the day you need to be making money so you need to ensure that you are selling your product or service everyday and carrying out the actions each day that will result in sales.

“Mind yourself- You can’t pour from an empty cup. I have definitely learned the hard way,” Hennebry concludes.

You need to have a routine in place to ensure you are looking after your own wellbeing because the better your own wellbeing is the better you will perform as an entrepreneur.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 19 July 2021

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