These Cork business women are looking ahead to an exciting 2020

It's a bright new year for these Cork entrepreneurs - from a facial reflexologist to style coach, sound healer, de-clutterer and others, who have recently completed a Women in Business programme
These Cork business women are looking ahead to an exciting 2020
The 12 West Cork business women who completed the Women in Business Programme by the Local Enterprise Office Cork North and West. Pictures; Clare Keogh

Twelve West Cork business women are ready to take on a bright new year after completing a unique Women in Business Programme by the Local Enterprise Office Cork North and West. Coming from a diverse range of backgrounds, the women, with the guidance of the LEO have set their business intentions for 2020. Here we catch up with them to find out more about their business and the future plans.

Catherine Clooney, Facial Reflexology
Catherine Clooney, Facial Reflexology

Catherine Clooney Facial Reflexology 

I made the move to Skibbereen from London to be with my mother who was born here. It may not seem like the obvious place to set up a facial reflexology practice but when what you offer is unique and effective then I believe it doesn’t really matter where you are!

Facial Reflexology is a wonderful treatment in so many ways. Working on the parasympathetic nervous system, it helps to switch off the stress hormones that pump into our systems. Stress is responsible for 70% of illness. Facial Refelxology Clooney Concept works on health issues, but it also has the added benefit of giving a glowing complexion.

Add some Traditional Chinese Medicine facial Gua Sha tools and you have a treatment that supports health issues and also lifts and sculpts facial muscles.

Being one of the first facial reflexologists to practice here in Ireland has given me the edge and the opportunity to teach foot reflexologists how to become accredited in Facial Reflexology Clooney Concept. This sees me travelling all over Ireland and will also take me to the UK, New York, Rome and Bahrain in 2020.

Being a participant on the LEO Women in Business course has allowed me the opportunity to share my passion and has given me a focus on building my business right from my base in the treatment room at The Gate Lodge, Liss Ard Estate, Skibbereen.

Claire Lehane HR Consultant
Claire Lehane HR Consultant

Claire Lehane-CL HR Consultancy 

I’m from Bandon in West Cork, married to a dairy farmer and mother to a beautiful little girl, who will shortly have a new sibling.

I hold a Business Studies Degree from UL, a Master’s in Human Resource Management from DCU, a Diploma in Employment Law from DBS and I’m also a qualified workplace Mediator.

Having worked in various HR roles for 12 years, I decided to start my own HR Consultancy in 2018 where I offer a tailored, solution-based service helping businesses meet their HR legal responsibilities with peace of mind. This leads to more effective management of employee relations, attracting and retaining employees and creating an engaged workforce, improving morale, productivity and profitability.

The encouragement and expertise I have received from our course mentors has been incredible. This is an excellent programme and I feel fortunate to have taken part. I met amazing, like-minded women who have supported each other throughout and I have no doubt we will continue to do so. The future is bright and my aim is to grow CL HR Consultancy to be the ‘go-to’ HR experts in the region.

Maria Connolly, The Lake House Beauty Rooms
Maria Connolly, The Lake House Beauty Rooms

Maria Connolly – The Lake House Beauty Rooms 

I opened The Lake House Beauty Rooms in February 2018 in my home town of Dunmanway after working for several years in the home retail sector as an Interior Designer. I had always felt a calling to beauty and the decision to retrain has been one of my best. Some days can be hectic with two young children but every day I set foot in the beauty rooms and prepare to meet clients I know that all the madness is worth it!

We offer a wide variety of treatments including facials, luxury pedicures, hot stone and Swedish massage and everything in between. The focus for me has always been to offer our customers an escape, allowing them to feel rejuvenated after a visit regardless of the treatment. Our location which is right on the lake in Dunmanway is peaceful and allows clients to really feel like they are getting away from it all. We are constantly upskilling and learning to bring clients the best possible experience.

I have loved every minute of the course. The local support both from the Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce and the Local Enterprise Office is second to none. Completing this course has definitely made life as a self-employed person that much easier to navigate so I definitely recommend it to any lady who is looking to step up their business.

Maura O'Connell West Cork Casting.
Maura O'Connell West Cork Casting.

Maura O’ Connell – West Cork Casting

I run my life casting business called West Cork Casting Studio from my home near Dunmanway.

While on a career break from an office job I spotted a video of a family group having their hands cast and I was blown away and decided I had to learn how to do this. I soon realised the strong emotional impact these pieces can have and I fell in love with the idea of preserving a moment in time.

The moulding materials used in lifecasting capture the most amazing details which makes each creation unique, beautiful and very poignant. I believe that in families we can be as familiar with hands as we are with faces and just looking at the hands of our parents, grandparents or children can bring all kinds of wonderful memories to mind.

The Women in Business programme has been a fantastic experience. Sharing and learning from other women in business has been extremely valuable, along with the wonderful input from the trainers Veronica and Billy of The Discovery Partnership. It’s not only the skills learned but the course and the group which has helped me grow in confidence and will aid my business to grow. I am looking forward to an exciting new year full of opportunities ahead.

Michelle Ryan, BWellHive
Michelle Ryan, BWellHive

Michelle Ryan, B WELL HIVE 

I worked in a corporate environment for many years but changed direction when one of my two sons was sick as a young child. My business today is about caring for the gut and showing how real food can make drastic differences to our lives. My passion is to share my love of real food and show how beneficial ancient foods are in enabling us to function better in our daily lives.

Bwellhive exists to solve some of the wellbeing and environmental issues facing business both large and small. As well as working with individuals we also work with companies who want the best for their employees. Here, we work with employees both onsite and online to guide and educate them on forming healthier habits to function better every day. We provide a broad range of services and solutions to help organisations facilitate change, achieve their vision, and optimise performance and productivity.

I applied for the Women in Business course for direction and guidance to build a better business. The course gave me this plus much more through mentoring and one to one support to realise the endless possibilities which includes expanding my unique ancient sustainable food therapy experiences to support workday employees onsite and online for a healthier lifestyle.

Sandra Maybury, Net Assist and PlanTastic
Sandra Maybury, Net Assist and PlanTastic

Sandra Maybury – Net Assist & PLANtastic 

My background is in hotels, having worked in the industry for over 20 years, where I specialised in Revenue Management. In 2005 I set up my own business, Net Assist, which offers a support service for hoteliers and I work with some of Ireland’s top hotels.

I have always loved organising events of all sizes and themes and when I was approached in 2017 to organise a Strictly fundraiser for a local school, I loved every minute of it and this led me to launch my new business PLANtastic. With PLANtastic I offer event management as well as sales, marketing and PR to SMEs.

I can’t speak highly enough of the Women in Business course, it has given me the confidence and the tools to grow both Net Assist and PLANtastic simultaneously. Billy and Veronica have been amazing as course facilitators as they have a way of getting the best out of participants and they have given me invaluable advice and assistance. Being self- employed and working from home can be isolating at times but since joining the group I now have an amazing support network. I have met like-minded women who I have learned so much from and I know we will continue to support each other. I have a new fire in my belly to succeed and I’m excited for the future.

Sharon Huggard, The Style Coach
Sharon Huggard, The Style Coach

Sharon Huggard, The Style Coach

My business is all about empowering women through style to realise their potential. I have over ten years experience styling women to help them transform how they look on the outside and feel on the inside.

In a past life I worked in the financial services industry for fourteen years before taking time out to stay at home with my children. Working as an in-house fashion stylist and buyer for Dressed boutique in Bandon for six years has placed me as the region’s most sought after personal Stylists and Style Coaches.

I adore creating stunning style transformations for women in business who want a look that embodies their brand and style. If someone is in search of a wardrobe to take them to the next level in business and life with confidence then I am the woman!

The Local Enterprise Office West Cork has provided my business with incredible support.

The Women in Business programme has given me vital clarity on my business through networking and mentoring. Something special happens when liked minded women are in a room together supporting each other with amazing facilitators. The course has given us a head start for an exciting 2020.

Sara Devoy, Cranio-Sacral Therapy
Sara Devoy, Cranio-Sacral Therapy

Sara Devoy, Cranio-sacral Therapist

I have been involved in holistic health approaches for over 30 years, teaching how vitality can be sustained within this fast paced world. My one to one Cranio-sacral therapy sessions focus on calming the nervous system which is at the core of many ailments and challenges, helping injuries to heal quicker and resolve aches, strains and digestive tensions.

I work with adults, children, babies and expectant mothers in person at my clinics in Rosscarbery and Cork City and also via Skype sessions.

My work also focuses on the cutting edge work of Pre and Perinatal psychology, which recognises the profound imprint our birth has on our lives. How we are first welcomed to the world can impact our self-esteem and capacity to learn and to build relationships.

With the support of the Women in Business course I have devised conscious parenting programmes to address the needs of parents and babies; birth and parenting that acknowledges the sentience of the baby from birth has huge implications for the future of our society.

Conscious parenting is an ambitious target with ever increasing challenges. I feel that is timely that we acknowledge that nurturing ourselves is an essential pre-requisite for best parenting practice.

Claire Marie Barton, Connecting Through Sound
Claire Marie Barton, Connecting Through Sound

Claire Marie Barton, Connecting through Sound 

 I’m a sound healer, musician and writer living in west Cork with my husband and two sons. In 2005, my first baby Alan was born prematurely at 27 weeks and died shortly after birth. This was the start of my healing journey which led to self-publishing my first book and CD “Letting Go, a mother’s healing journey through diaries, poetry and song’’ as well as prompting a career change from ecologist to holistic therapist.

As a sound healing practitioner, I help my clients achieve a state of calm and inner peace using the simple, yet powerful energy of sound. We also have a self-catering studio ‘Shearwater Chalet’ on Airbnb, so it is possible to create your own private retreat.

I came to the course to get clarity on what direction to take my business as well as to build a support network with other women facing the same challenges, juggling family, work and trying to learn the necessary business skills.

My plans for the future include building the online component of my work, offering sound healing sessions to clients around the world. At home I will be offering more 1-1 tailored retreats and I’m starting to offer sound healing workshops and sound baths through Airbnb Experiences. I’m also working with a beautiful collective called ‘Stories from the Womb’.

We run workshops to help women heal after pregnancy loss and death of a baby and we plan to expand this much needed work in 2020.

Anne Marie Kingston, White Sage Decluttering
Anne Marie Kingston, White Sage Decluttering

Anne Marie Kingston, White Sage Decluttering

I left my corporate life with Bank of Ireland in 2012 to start a family with my husband John.

As my two children got older I wanted to pursue a passion and though I have been decluttering for over 30 years on a personal level, I decided to complete a Decluttering course with the Decluttering Academy in 2017. This lead to the foundation of White Sage Decluttering, a one to one decluttering business which has been growing steadily since.

In essence, I help busy women nationwide to declutter their homes. I offer a soft and gentle approach together with a non-judgemental and confidential service when it comes to my hands on sessions, where all my clients are in full control. I support, motivate and energise my clients to let go of their unwanted, unloved and unused where I transform a room or space in a day, as well as remove my client’s clutter to the local charity on their behalf.

I highly recommended the LEO women in the business course as it has helped me to see the bigger vision for my business.

My plan for the future for White Sage Decluttering is to grow my online decluttering courses. This is only the tip of the iceberg... Watch this space!

Catherine O'Brien, Solicitor
Catherine O'Brien, Solicitor

Catherine O’Brien, Solicitor 

I am from Dunmanway and run a legal practice in the town centre. After qualifying as a solicitor I worked in practice and then in commercial law in Melbourne, setting up the legal department for a growing financial services/I.T. company. This was exciting work across several continents but I eventually missed the more personal interaction of general practice and decided to move back home and set up my own practice in April 2008.

The timing was challenging for a fledgling practice starting from scratch. However the reality is that there is no perfect time to do anything, whether it’s having a baby or starting a business; if you want to be your own boss and believe you have a product or service that people want or need then go for it but be prepared to persevere. There will be tough days as well as tremendous days.

I built up the practice over the last 11 years and moved into purpose- built offices a year ago to accommodate our growth driven by referral from existing clients. This move has substantially increased our client base as we are easily accessible from anywhere in Cork.

Working with like-minded women and excellent mentors on the course has been invigorating, rewarding and fun and is something I would definitely recommend.

Rita Holding, RH Vintage Interiors
Rita Holding, RH Vintage Interiors

Rita Holding, RH Vintage Interiors 

My story began when I lived and worked in London for a number of years and loved nothing more than scouting around garage sales and second hand shops as a hobby away from my corporate life. When my family relocated to West Cork, I decided it was time to turn this passion into a business and RH Vintage Interiors was born in 2017.

Today I source high quality unique vintage and one of a kind pieces in Ireland, the UK and France. It is all about a love for design, creativity, texture, colour and uniqueness. I use different techniques using chalk paint and other specialist products. I also offer a professional, bespoke painting commission service and hold regular chalk painting classes from my workshop in Rosscarbery.

I am proud to say that my business is thriving and I stay loyal to my established brand, which is quality, uniqueness and colour.

I recently launched my e-commerce site www.rhvintageinteriors.com which has broadened my market.

The course has been extremely enjoyable and hugely beneficial to my business in terms of systems, marketing and accounting. The sessions were amazing and have helped me to focus on building my business and planning for a very bright and colourful future!

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