Dragons Den On Tour
On a rainy Monday in January I relived the last year in the Stylefish story with the crew from Dragon’s Den and what a day it was! It is quiet unbelievable to me that it has been a year since I walked up those steps to face the wrath of the Dragons! With three offers on the table and having delighedtly accepted the support of Norah & Gavin, a new chapter in the story began twelve months ago.
Some might say it has been a tough year, some might say it has been much more than a tough year. I say the year has been what I made of it! As with all things in life, those really close to your heart, the things that matter most to you take lots and lots of hard work and Stylefish is no exception! It started out as an idea to change how women feel about their style by running a course to do just that! Three years on, the Stylefish brand seems to have taken on a life of its own with my fishies growing in ways I never imagined when I started my business. I am a firm believer that if you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don’t! If you want to win, but think you can’t, it’s almost a cinch you won’t. For in this crazy and unpredictable world in which we find ourselves, success always begins with one person’s will.
I faced the cameras once again and very excitedly explained how the Stylefish family has grown to 1,500 women who have now been Stylefished in association with stores such as Debenhams, House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols and more. I am very proud to now say my fishies are out growing me as we are getting things ready to run our first teacher training course in September! I want to provide women around the country with the opportunity to run their very own Stylefish business & make money the Stylefish way, delivering our classes & services.
Not a bad achievement in a country where sometimes our hope in the powers that be have somewhat waivered! What I have seen in the last three years is an amazing surgence of small new businesses, giving it a go. I see people taking the risk and working hard to create their own future and provide opportunities for others. Instead of packing up and moving on I have decided to have very little sleep, to work harder than I could have ever imagined & not only that but I’ve not had a date in months hehe! But……. my fishies are flying!
In the last twelve months I have worked with amazing brands both in the corporate & fashion sector such as IKEA, Kelloggs, Select Hotels Ireland, Teamworx Retail Recruitment, The Irish Cancer Society, The Ultimate Girls Day Out, House of Fraser, Woman’s Way & many more. I write a weekly column for Woman’s Way and adore helping readers with their fashion dilemmas! I loved even more getting the opportunity to meet them and teach live on stage classes at the first ever Woman’s Way Live in the RDS in March! I have also just launched the Stylefish Stylist service in Clerys, which has been an amazing experience. The one thing I always promised myself when I set up Stylefish was to do everything 110%. To teach my clients 110%, to train my Stylists 110% & to offer associated courses, events & consultancy 110%. Dragons Den was definitely no exception! On the day of filming, we trekked from my office in Dublin (cameras and team Stylefish!) to House of Fraser where I ran a taster class for camera with some of my gorgeous members. I met with Norah for one of our catch ups! And most of all what I really hope I did was to put across how amazing the last year has been and how excited I am about the next….
Now, I don’t even want for one second let you think I have done this all on my own. I have the amazing support of both Norah & Gavin, who believed in me when I stood in front of them with the cameras rolling! Gavin has taught me how to make sure I am representing Stylefish in the best possible way in the media, I have become much stronger at being interviewed & would like to say I am more in control of it all! Norah, where do I start with Norah. I always remember reading a book called ‘That Will Never Work’ in which I read Norah’s story. I read about her being a nurse and moving to journalism and media. Her story always inspired me and stuck with me. Something about what I read in that book pushed me to believe I could do it too (I did a Commerce Degree majoring in Law, quit, moved to London to be a wedding planner, travelled the world, came home and set up Stylefish!). Norah was the main reason I decided to go on the show! In the last year I cannot even describe how kind, generous & supportive she has been of both me & Stylefish. I truly believe that no matter what happens in the Den, what happens outside is much more important and just like any business relationship, it takes time to build that trust in each other. The opportunity Norah & all the Dragons provide young entrepreneurs in walking up those steps goes far beyond money. In fact for me, its not even about the money. Norah has been by my side in helping me to develop Stylefish as a nationally recognised brand and she has done that in so many ways & has been so generous with her time and especially in a year when she has had such incredible sadness in her own life, with the passing of her husband and Editorial Director of Harmonia, Richard. Norah is an amazing person with amazing focus, strength & a heart of gold! From the bottom of my heart Norah, thank you x
There are some other amazing companies who bring my fishies to life (and without whom I wouldn’t have my fishies!). They support me in my moments of madness & keep me on the straight and narrow and they are my absolutely fabulous design company Cream Graphics who just ‘get it.’ Now anyone who has created a brand will understand what this means. When you have an idea for a business or a brand, you know in your head how you want it to look and sound & what you want others to see but to get a company who will listen to all the stuff in your head coming out in no particular order, who listen to all your crazy ideas and who turn your passion into something everyone ‘gets’, is not easy! Cian, Eoin & all the team at Cream Graphics, thank you! Cian filmed with me in January (against his will I might add) and quite frankly my story one year on would not be complete without you guys!
There is also one other company (and more importantly person) without whom, I most definitely would not be here! I can say that with my hand on my heart! Paul Thompson from Waterbabies.co.uk has mentored me from the day we registered our company name in 2009! (In fact it was during a brainstorming session in London with Paul that the name Stylefish came about!). I met Paul through mutual friends at the Kinsale Rugby Sevens (of all places!) when I was in college (back in the day!). I will always remember this lovely guy who listened to me dribble on about wanting to have my own business and I will always remember him looking me in the eye & saying he had no doubt I would. But the way he said it, I just knew he believed in me. I feel incredibly lucky to have Paul (the owner of the largest baby swimming franchise in the world – he will kill me saying that!) mentor me as my business grows. Not only is he an inspiration to me (he started his business ten years ago at his kitchen table) but he is the calmest, most level headed, strategic and focused person I know. Exactly what every crazy entrepreneur needs to rein them in!! Although he too is a crazy entrepreneur, he has the experience under his belt to manage it better than I can!
Right, that’s it! For anyone, who has read to here, thank you! I often vow to write more blog posts like this keeping you all posted on the person and people behind my little business! So, I must! But for now, for anyone who would like to be part of our story and would consider themselves a potential Stylefish Teacher, I would love to hear from you! Simply fill in our Online Application Form here…
Oh and here is a little story I have on my wall in my office that I read every now and again when the tiredness makes me wonder what’s it all about! “It was registration day at a university and a young man was queuing up to enrol. Lost in thought, his mind racing with possibilities for what lay ahead, he barely noticed the old man standing in front of him until he bumped straight into him. He said ‘I’m sorry professor’. The man said ‘Oh I’m not a professor. I’m a new student just like you.’ But how old are you the boy asked? ‘I’m 73’. ‘What are you studying?’ Medicine said the old man with a twinkle in his eye. ‘I’ve always wanted to be a doctor and now..’. The old man paused as if remembering something from his past. ‘Now, I’m finally ready to follow my dreams.’ The young man said ‘no disrespect sir but to become a doctor will take at least 7 years you will be eighty then!’ the man put his hand on the young boys shoulders and looked him straight in the eye. ‘God willing’ said the old man ‘I’ll be 80 years old whether I follow my dream or not.”