We talk to women forging innovative businesses in rural Ireland. Today, we talk to Olivia Norman from Naivilo whose successful business was created after encouragement from her 9-year old daughter.
Nature-loving scientist Olivia Norman always made her own facial oils to treat her skin conditions. But it was when she started making deodorant as a result of her underactive thyroid that a business idea was formed.
A Galway girl, Olivia moved to Cork in 1998 to finish her Biomedical Science degree in UCC, met her husband and never left. Her career started in IBTS blood bank, before 17 years in the labs in Mercy University Hospital Cork.
“Being able to get open and honest positive feedback and a safe space to be vulnerable was such a joy”
When burnout set in, Olivia – a trained Kundalini yoga teacher and life coach — took a career break to look at ways to create a better work/life balance. It was her 9-year-old daughter who suggested making a business from her luxurious prebiotic natural deodorant balm.
Norman completed Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers at the Rubicon Centre MTU, followed by the Exxcel Female Entrepreneur STEM programme in 2019.
Naivilo launched in March 2020. When Covid hit, the hospital asked her to help out with the pandemic. Olivia worked a few nights a month at the hospital, while spent her days testing products and working on branding.
She finished up in the hospital in December 2020 to concentrate on the business and, by January 2021, she launched two new products and her new website.
Olivia applied for ACORNS in 2019 but was grateful she didn’t in, as she was more prepared for it in 2020. ACORNS is a Government-supported programme designed to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland through a peer learning approach.
Women in rural Ireland with new businesses or at least with well-developed ideas are being invited to join ACORNS 7.The ACORNS programme is designed to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland through a peer learning approach. Thanks to the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the voluntary contribution of time by Lead Entrepreneurs, there is no charge for those selected to participate.
ACORNS gave her a connection to energetic people who understand running a new business and the monthly meetings gave her focus. She loves the sense of community and positive support.
“Being part of ACORNS has brought so much more than I expected. The support of the group was just fantastic,” says Norman.
“Being able to get open and honest positive feedback and a safe space to be vulnerable was such a joy. I now am proud to be an ACORN going forward and have the confidence to grow Naivilo better than I would have being alone.”
Naivilo can be bought directly online and from other websites, as well as in a luxurious spa in Norway.
Olivia’s medium-term plans are to outsource production and packaging and hire staff for marketing, social media and sales.
The call is now open for applicants for ACORNS 7 and 50 female entrepreneurs from across the country will be selected to participate. Anyone interested in receiving an application form ahead of the September 10, 2021 deadline for ACORNS 7 should register their interest here