In just one year, Petra Cooper’s Kildare-based handcrafted jewellery business P.S. I Love You has moved 95pc of sales online with the help of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme.
Born and raised in a small town in Slovenia, Petra Cooper says she has always been creative and curious.
“My first job was as an English teacher at a primary school but I quickly realised it wasn’t the path I want to continue, so I got a job at IBM and stayed there for 13 years. During those years, I started making jewellery, using beads and wire and I guess my little journey started then, without me even realizing it at the time. After moving to Ireland, I stayed at home for a while and then got a job at a medical company. The fact that I was coming home late and not spending enough time with my family was killing me.”
“The economy is getting stronger by buying local, my brand awareness is growing exactly where I want it to, and when my business grows, my local town will grow”
With her husband’s encouragement Cooper decided to start a business after she heard that Kildare Local Enteprise Office (LEO) and Leader Network were sponsoring the formation of a craft network.
Turning dreams into a business
Finding inspiration in everyday life, nature, dreams, music, art, fashion and people, Cooper primarily works with polymer clay as well as materials like fabric, cork, metal, wires, beads, felt, faux and real leather to make her elegant pieces.
“I believe everyone is unique in our own way, so jewelry and accessories should be the same. They should complement our looks and enhance our personalities. That’s why I use so many different styles and techniques to embrace all the diverse beauty out there.”
She describes P.S. I Love You jewelry and accessories as “one of a kind, unique, bespoke little pieces of happiness that bring joy to the world. They are bold, colourful, big, statement and different. And that’s what makes them so special! A lot of thought and effort goes into making every little detail and each new product makes me grow just a little bit more again as a person and an artist. I primarily make jewelry pieces and accessories, and the plan is to extend the range to home decor as well.
“The company was established in autumn 2019 and soon after I attended my first Christmas fair Make it, organised by the LEO Kildare. It was a huge success for me and a step into the real world, where I could finally see genuine reactions to my products. After that, I attended a few more Christmas fairs but then, unfortunately the Covid-19 restrictions took place, so I haven’t been to a craft fair since.
I applied for a Trading Online Voucher (TOV) and started the process of building my website in May 2020 with a company that built the website for the network that I am a part of called Original Kildare. I am a member of the committee and am quite active in the group.”
Since launching the website in September her company’s brand awareness has grown steadily. “I am starting to see more revenue generated through the website sales and recent virtual Christmas markets.
“My customers are mostly women, strong and unique, who know exactly what they want. My pieces are bold and they make a statement, so the women who wear them are definitely not afraid of being noticed.”
When the Covid-19 restrictions hit P.S. I Love You had no online presence save for a Facebook and Instagram page but Cooper has kept a disciplined approach to scheduled posts. “All my posts are featured with the Original Kildare social media accounts as well. I am involved in a few Facebook groups, which are promoting small businesses: Bite the Biscuit, Shop in Ireland, Shop Local Ireland. I am involved with the Green Friday initiative, organised by Wild Design Collective. I am a member of the DCCI and subscribed to their Made Local campaign.”
Best approach for business
Cooper said the support from her local Kildare LEO has been instrumental since the beginning of her journey, including the formation of the Original Kildare network, promotion of her products as well as the provision of business and marketing mentors.
“I received a Business Continuity Voucher, which provided me with a mentor. We worked together on establishing the best approach to start the process to build my website. He also organised a professional photographer to take photos of my products, which were later used for my website.
“I applied for the Trading Online Voucher and built my website that way. This was the best support for me and my business as there is no other way but to be present online these days. Revenue started coming in I can’t imagine not having a website anymore.”
Cooper is confident about the future. “I believe my business will grow, as I’m starting to see it already. I am involved in so many activities that are making my business stronger and are building my network, that I can only see my brand awareness grow constantly.
“I see that people are bored with ordinary things, they’ve seen it all, everything is at their disposal, only a few clicks away. I offer customised, personalised, bespoke and unique products, that can’t be found anywhere else. All my pieces are one of a kind, so my customers know, no one else is going to wear the same accessory as them. I believe that is the key to my success. My products are different and there are not many businesses in Ireland creating with the same materials as me.
“The future is looking good for me and my business and with the continuous support from my colleagues, customers and the LEO, I believe 2021 is going to be amazing.”
Cooper added that buying local online will be pivotal for small Irish businesses. “We should all “Look for Local” because that is the only way small businesses like mine will survive this pandemic. Yes, there are sales coming through the website from all over the world and it’s amazing to see an order from South Africa or France, but the reality is, the economy is getting stronger by buying local, my brand awareness is growing exactly where I want it to, and when my business grows, my local town will grow.
“And that’s what makes me proud and put additional meaning to continuing doing what I do. Every time I see a post on social media, someone looking for a gift idea and wants to buy Irish, my heart gets warmer. There are so many beautiful people out there that are willing to help, I think that’s what Look for Local is all about.”
Video: How to get your business selling online
With Christmas 2020 now past, the year ahead 2021 still presents retailers with a challenge to go online to not only deal with closed premises if they are deemed non-essential but to address the expectations of an increasingly digitalised consumer.
To get the message out to SMEs, Bank of Ireland collaborated with online shopping platform Shopify as well as Pointy, the Irish platform recently acquired by Google that helps shoppers find via the internet the products they need in your physical store, and the E-commerce Association of Ireland (eCAI), to highlight the opportunities that exist online.
Published: 27 January 2021