INVOLVED in the arts for over two decades as a performer along with being a producer, director and event organiser of many prestigious festivals, Sinéad Dunphy decided it was time to take the plunge in late 2019 to become her own “boss lady”.
Ms Dunphy, originally from Waterford but living in Cork for 21 years, founded Eventi Management, an events and marketing consultancy firm whose clients include Graffiti Theatre Company, Cork Community Art Link, Soul in the City Festival and the National Circus Festival of Ireland, at the tail end of 2019.
Just a few months later, a global pandemic hit.
“We lost a full year’s work in three days which obviously wasn’t great for a new company after we had just filled our calendar.
“I had to sit and lick my wounds for about a month and then I just had to get on with it,” she told The Echo.
Despite the unprecedented challenge that faced her nascent company, Ms Dunphy has been forging ahead, devising innovative ways to do business.
“During the pandemic we’ve gotten more into marketing consultancy, digital marketing and web design to really just try and turn it around and be ready also then for future events.
“We’ve done a lot of consultancy with people as well, getting them ready for a reopening.
“For this landscape, we have to be a little bit more imaginative.” Ms Dunphy, who previously served as Festival Manager of the Cork International Choral Festival as well as Festival Director of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival in 2018 says she is enjoying her new venture and being her own boss.
“Before I set it [Eventi Management] up I’d had a few contracts and then I just thought it’s time to open the doors of a company where I’m the boss lady! I do enjoy being the boss lady,” she laughed.
In setting up Eventi, Ms Dunphy has been able to draw on the knowledge of her business partner, Chief Executive Cork Business Association (BBA), Lawrence Owens.
“I’m the founder and the Managing Director and then I have a business partner, Lawrence Owens.
“We’ve known each other for a very long time. We’ve given a lot of our lives to Cork in more ways than one.
“It’s lovely to work with such a gentleman, like Lawrence.
“It was wonderful to have someone like him come in and back me and say I believe in what you’re doing here.
“I always say he’s the yin to my yang – he’s the suit and I’m the crazy arty one!
“He’s able to get the meeting and then I blow them away with what I say,” she laughed.
As well as the support of her business partner, Ms Dunphy is a member of the Cork branch of Network Ireland - a group of women who she says have been a great sounding board.
“There’s a true support system there which I think is brilliant.
“Particularly during the pandemic, it’s been great.
“At the end of the day when you’re finished at the laptop there’s no one there to share in what you’ve just done so often a network like that is really important to be able to just reach out to someone.
“I can just send a text to anyone I know from the network – it’s really great.
“If you’re not a member and you’re a businesswoman, I’d really encourage people to join. It’s really worth it.
“It’s a deeper sense of support than I think most business organisations because it’s about the individual rather than about your organisation.”
Ms Dunphy is a previous winner of the Creative Professional award at the Network Ireland Cork Businesswoman of the Year Awards – an accolade which she says really helped to bolster her confidence.
“At the time I was just finishing running the Cork International Choral Festival and I was about to start running the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival and I think an award like that gives you a sense of self.
“I truly believe women in the workplace, men as well of course, but particularly women suffer from imposter syndrome.
“I think when you have something like this and you’re recognised by your peers in various industries it’s a real bolster and a reminder to yourself that you’re doing okay.”
She would encourage any members thinking of applying for the awards this year not to hold back.
“All I could say is do it because the only way you’re going to ever feel that validation in your own community is by putting yourself forward.
“It’s not about showing it off to anyone else, it’s actually that validation of self and it’s a real personal achievement I think when you do go in for something like that and end up winning.”
Ms Dunphy also had some wise words for budding entrepreneurs.
“What I would say is if you have the idea, put it down on paper.
“Use word association – write down your idea and then start ploughing on and just start throwing down other words that you think are connected and by the end you’re going to have some semblance of what could be and then it’s just about taking that leap of faith and believing in yourself,” she said.
“And then absolutely do an 18-month forecast! That’s absolutely imperative!”
The closing date to apply for the Network Ireland Businesswoman of the Year Awards is Friday, April 16 at 5pm.
To find out more, visit www.networkireland.ie or email email@example.com