Your Quest to Thrive starts now

Kerry-based ACORNS alumni Bridget McAuliffe from Quest and Thrive has always been passionate about the positive impact that healthy lifestyle habits can have on our wellbeing.

We talk to rural women entrepreneurs from across Ireland who recently took part in the ACORNS programme.

Recognising the importance of preventive habits, which tackles the underlying causes of health issues rather than just the symptoms, Bridget established her own company Quest and Thrive in Co Kerry in 2022. 

“With our sedentary lifestyles dominated by technology, we aim to counteract the negative effects and promote greater mobility and wellbeing”

Quest and Thrive is a whole-health and well-being event organisation company, curating day events, residential retreats, expert talks, and conferences.

The events revolve around six key pillars: natural movement, good eating habits, restful sleep routines, effective stress management, fostering positive social relationships, and discovering a clear sense of purpose in life.  

Stress management

“We bring together experts in various fields such as movement, sleep hygiene, exercise, and nutrition to deliver our events in beautiful locations in Ireland,” Bridget explained. 

A unique aspect of the retreats is the inclusion of workshops on the Wim Hof Method, a form of cold-water therapy that teaches individuals valuable breathing and meditation techniques for stress management.

“Recently, we held a series of popular day events at the MOYA Festival in Ballybunion, where we hosted a Wim Hof workshop and a Move Free-Eat-Swim event emphasising the significance of natural movement.

“With our sedentary lifestyles dominated by technology, we aim to counteract the negative effects and promote greater mobility and wellbeing,” Bridget said, adding that Quest and Thrive has a full schedule of events for the coming months, taking place in a variety of locations. 

Bridget is grateful to ACORNS for connecting her with like-minded entrepreneurs, adding that the peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing has been “invaluable” for her business.

“While receiving input from experts is fantastic, the connections and friendships I’ve formed within my ACORNS group have been truly invaluable. We support and inspire each other, sharing the learnings we gather along our respective journeys,” she remarked. 

Peer learning

Women in rural Ireland with new businesses or at least with well-developed ideas are being invited to join next phase of the programme, ACORNS 9.

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 is based on the belief that early-stage entrepreneurs learn best from their peers. Participants interact with each other in the monthly round table sessions, which are facilitated by a Lead Entrepreneur, who has first-hand experience of starting and successfully growing a business in rural Ireland. There are 50 places available for ACORNS 9.

Those wishing to apply for ACORNS 9 should register on the website before midnight 22 September.

In a survey carried out at the end of the eighth cycle of the programme in April, 100% of participants said they would recommend the programme to others. The 46 entrepreneurs in ACORNS 8 also reported significant growth in their new businesses. Their combined turnover, which doubled in the six months to April 2023 – from €1.9m to €3.6m.

Participants in ACORNS 8 employed 96 (55 full-time, 41 part-time) staff at the end of the cycle, an increase of 16. There were also five new exporters over the cycle. 

A total of 96% of the participants said that they felt closer to achieving their ambitions after having completed ACORNS.  While 89% said that their participation brought about a practical change within their business. 

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