ACORNS alumni Claire Keane on the inspiration to bring Second Street Bakeshop, an American-style bakery, to Carrigaline.
We talk to rural women entrepreneurs from across Ireland who recently took part in the ACORNS programme.
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 8. 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.
“I hope to break into the retail market and grow my workforce beyond the support I receive from my sister in the kitchen and my father who helps with deliveries”
The call is now open for applicants for ACORNS 8 and 50 female entrepreneurs from across the country will be selected to participate. Anyone interested in receiving an application form ahead of the midnight 23 September deadline for ACORNS 8 should register their interest here
Second Street Bakeshop
Claire Keane, founder of Second Street Bakeshop in Carrigaline in Cork, first started cooking and selling her homemade caramel squares to fellow students in secondary school, as a means of raising funds for summer trips to visit the United States.
With a Master’s degree in Environmental Science, Claire emigrated to the US in 1999, with the intention of pursuing a career in the environmental area. After growing disillusioned, however, by the poor response with which wider society was meeting the climate emergency, she found herself craving the creativity that comes from being in the kitchen.
Following a couple of years of fine-tuning her culinary skills, Claire set up an artisanal shortbread, caramel and chocolate company called Clairesquares in San Francisco in 2006. The success of the firm surprised even Claire, with Haagen-Dazs choosing to turn one of her cookies into a flavour of its world-famous ice cream in 2015.
Claire sold the company in 2019 before moving back to her native Cork.
“The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic restricted me to the kitchen, where I once again set about experimenting with toffee and shortbread.”
Encouraged by the feedback from friends, and noticing an opening in the Irish market for American-style sweet treats, Claire set up Second Street Bakeshop in September 2021.
From her base at Cork Incubator Kitchens in Carrigaline, Claire produces Second Street’s toffee-heavy brittle, which she sells both online and at Neighbourfood markets.
“I hope to break into the retail market and grow my workforce beyond the support I receive from my sister in the kitchen and my father who helps with deliveries.”
Claire is grateful to ACORNS for providing a support network for women. “It’s a valuable organisation that helps women elevate their businesses,” she adds.