The Rise of the Small Business: a feature of new online businesses

According to financialwolves.com, starting an online business is the best way to make money but by no means can this be related to ‘getting rich quick’. Nevertheless, it is very plausible that your business could develop into a larger franchise. A lot of companies have actually moved online from physical sales. Not only has this cut rental or mortgage costs on franchise buildings, but it has also made products more accessible to buyers. Brands such as ASOS or Pretty Little Thing, who have always had an online presence are now being joined by smaller retailers. This means more local companies can explore new ways of building a client base, promising the resurrection of small businesses.

Covid has affected businesses all over the country, with nationwide calls for more funding and grants to support small or local companies. Many are praying that “click and collect” services will be re-introduced after Level 5 restrictions are lifted. 

According to the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America:

“In addition to its impact on public health, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused a major economic shock.”

However, it seems that small businesses have used technological advances to promote their work. Platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and DePop have all enabled non-business orientated people to create a new source of income by providing a product that is in demand. 

I for one have spent a huge amount of my time online shopping, both through chains and local companies. There is a certain sense of pride when you buy from a small business. There is a feeling that the product you get comes from the dedication and personal touch of the owner. These products, for me, are items I will probably keep for years to come due to this personal touch. 

Amazon has come into some controversy recently about the handling of the products they distribute for small companies. Due to the pandemic, Amazon has struggled to find what products they need to promote over others; if that would be their own branded items or others and according to ekm.com

“..if you weren’t a priority, then your products were left sitting on their shelves, somewhere out of reach to either you or your customers, even if orders had been placed. That’s an awkward bump in the road for anyone who held some stock in Amazon’s warehouses, but it completely halted any trade for retailers who had handed all of their stock over to Amazon’s care.”

In juxtaposition to these kinds of scandals, small businesses have turned to running their own companies and using an online presence to successfully promote their products.

I met with three young female entrepreneurs:

 

Candles By Evie

Eve Dobson 

@candles_by_evie

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Candles by Evie started as a hobby and swiftly developed into a small business. Starting a business at any time is daunting but even more so during a global pandemic. As travel during these arduous times is prohibited, I was forced to source most of the raw materials online.  Where possible, I buy from Irish owned companies in an effort to support Irish brands. In light of the current health crisis, bolstering hygiene and preventing contamination is crucial. As such, I always practice appropriate sanitation techniques when handling and packaging the products. Despite the challenges, I am thoroughly enjoying the candle making process.  I love experimenting with different fragrances and creating intriguing scents.  The public response has been immense, and I am so thankful for the support I have received thus far.  Knowing that people enjoy my creations is extremely gratifying and validating.  I look forward to growing my business in the future.  Feel free to check out my Instagram page @candles_by_evie_ 

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Clóda-Kate Clothing

Clóda O’Loughlin

@clodakate.clothing

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My name is Clóda O’Loughlin, and I am 18 years old. I’m in my first year of college. I have a small business called ‘Clóda-Kate Clothing’ (clodakate.clothing on Instagram) where I sell unique scrunchies and bags. Without Covid, I don’t think I ever would have had the idea to start my small business. I started it in August 2020, mid pandemic, because I needed to make money for college but due to covid I found it really hard to get a job. 

To be completely honest, I didn’t have much experience with sewing before I started but soon, I became engrossed in the process and found a secret talent. Not only did I find a new hobby that I loved during Covid, but I ended up getting amazing support and didn’t need to find another job before college. 

A few things that I think set my business apart is the fact that I use a 20th century mechanical Singer sewing machine that I inherited from my nan. I run the business out of my parents’ home in Kerry making me an Irish women-owned small business. In addition, sustainability is really important to me. All packaging I use is reused. In fact, I use old vogue pages to wrap my products, which the customer can also reuse to decorate their space. 

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Miss Grace Tolan

Grace Tolan 

missgracetolan.com

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The basis of it started as soon as the country shut down in March 2020. Beforehand, I had been working as a set designer on some small theatre pieces and also worked at a museum in town. Our last day was right before St Patrick’s Day. It was mayhem and our bosses said that morning we would be closed for the foreseeable future. I’m from Mayo originally and with that I went home for what I thought would be 5 days, I ended up staying the full three months of the first lockdown.

 In typical fashion, I packed more art supplies than clothes, just to keep myself occupied and painted and drew my way through lockdown. With the canvases climbing and more art supply purchases being made, I decided to start selling some of my work. I started off small, selling on Etsy and I had a vendor section on an online gallery. However as time passed and more art was selling, I found it quite awkward working through online vendors and I also felt I wanted to showcase more of my personality. Upon my return to Dublin,  I decided to start my own website to sell my work, offer commission based work and showcase a portfolio of my set design work, killing a few birds with one stone! The name.. I had a lecturer in IADT call me ‘Miss Grace’ (I really enjoy fringe and gold sequins…) Through promotion on my Instagram page, sales increased and during the months coming up to Christmas, I was busy with commission based work. Since then, I continue to produce and sell work along with the odd commissioned piece here and there. I’m lucky to have a space where I can work remotely to produce art. The local post office workers nearly know me through the mask by now. I’m also continuing to make my work and how it’s produced and packaged more environmentally friendly. I’ll continue to work as an artist for as long as I can. Times are uncertain at the moment and many people are finding themselves in dark and unsure places, myself included, but if I thought I could put a smile on someone’s face, for me, it makes it that bit better.

Instagram: @missgracetolan                    

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About the author

KathyAnn Murphy

KathyAnn is a playwright, theatre and film designer and director from Co. Wicklow. She holds an MA in Theatre Practise and a BA in Design for Stage and Screen. She is a third level tutor, drama teacher and is currently studying a Diploma in Irish Studies. KathyAnn has a great interest in the arts, social justice, history and music.

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