There are not enough hours in my day to feature and talk to all the talented people I find throughout Ireland. I'm lucky enough to be working full-time in the Irish Craft industry now - all my blogging paid off! Of course, my own blog has suffered a bit but I can assure you, everyone who has been in contact and is waiting to be featured, you have not be forgotten. Without further adieu, I wanted to introduce you to Alix Mulholland of Bog Standard.
I talked to Alix about her business - she told me, "I'm a firm believer in the working to live as opposed to living to work school of thought. I've always dreamed of starting my own business doing something I knew I would enjoy. I studied Business Management at university in Glasgow over 10 years ago and in my final year I submitted a business plan for a quirky gift ware company called Bog Standard...it was just the beginning and I had a lot of work to do.
Initially my research took me across Ireland several times and whilst I revelled at the variety and quality of local crafts product, I saw enough leprechaun key rings and Guinness memorabilia to last me a lifetime! I was surprised at the shortage of style conscious home fragrance gifts that were truly local. And so I set about he development of the core range of candles and soaps with gorgeously evocative scents reminiscent of Ireland, all beautifully packaged in colourful boxes. "
In 2001 - Alix jumped headlong into the business working on creating a product range that would work well in popular tourist spots but also suit large retail stores in towns and cities. And like many small businesses, work began at her kitchen table. In no time, her small house was overrun by piles of soaps and candles. Soap was stored in the bath but no place was left empty- the spare bedroom, hallway and even the bottom of the staircase doubled as her office with a fax machine strategically placed to receive incoming orders. With a bit of luck, she was soon able to take premises nearby and she now works in a converted mushroom factory outside Carryduff in Co. Down. This beautiful hidden spot is surrounded by fields and lakes providing wonderful creative inspiration for this growing enterprise.
Alix continued to tell me what inspires her, "We are lucky to have a lovely wee family cottage in the heart of the Mourne Mountains in Newcastle, Co. Down. From our cottage it is clear to see why Ireland holds such a special place in the hearts of people the world over. It's from here with its ever changing vistas that I got my inspiration for Bog Standard, a range inspired and created in Ireland so everyone may enjoy a little piece of it's unique beauty. Lush green patchworks of fields, windy twisty country roads, higgledy piggledy dry stone walls, long sandy beaches, moist mist and rain...never far away. In essence, we've tried to "bottle"all that is lovely about Irish life and landscape and share it. Where ever you travel in Ireland, you can't fail to be seduced time and time again by the beauty, sights and smells of this land. "
The way Alix describes Ireland is exactly how I feel about this amazing place. I couldn't have said it better myself.
In closing she told me that while the Irish gift market is extremely competitive, she loves what she does and feels incredibly lucky to be able to make a living out of something she enjoys doing. It hasn't always been easy and is incredibly tough at times especially with a young family - getting the balance right is not so simple.
It never is easy for entrepreneurs but they are a breed unto their own and there is something in entrepreneurs that they seem to have this incredible will power and amazing juggling ability that makes them succeed.
I see Bog Standard range throughout the country, most recently in Kilkenny Shop on Nassau Street where they have a fantastic display. Alix, I'd say you are on the right track......keep going!!