I couldn’t finish school due to the bullying... now I’ve my own business

Having left school early due to bullying, West Cork teen Roisin Hurley set up her own business. EMMA CONNOLLY finds out more
I couldn’t finish school due to the bullying... now I’ve my own business

Roisin Hurley, who runs Draiocht.

A TEENAGER who felt she had no choice but to quit school because of years of racial bullying, has now launched her own jewellery business.

Roisin Hurley, 17, who was adopted from China when she was one, suffered five years of degrading name calling and worse during her secondary schooling.

She was called ‘Chink’ and was told to ‘get the f*** back to China’ by fellow students, until eventually it became too much.

Growing up in West Cork, she went to a small primary school where she said everything ‘was normal’.

“I thought I was just like everyone else, I thought we looked the same, I didn’t think I was different to everyone.

“But when I went into secondary school in 2016, I was 12 years old, young for my year, it all changed. For the first half of first year, everything went smoothly. During the second half of the year, some girls started making fun of me, they started tripping me in the halls, stereotypical bullies. Comments started to arise, more people joined in.”

One particular comment stands out in her memory: “One I’ll never forget is when a girl said ‘you can f*** back off to China’. In 3rd year I had one friend, because everyone decided not to be friends with me anymore, and whenever she was out sick from school, I would have to sit in the locker rooms by myself eating lunch because no-one would talk to me. When people came in, they always looked over and laughed at me.”

One of Roisin Hurley's designs
One of Roisin Hurley's designs

In 2019, she transferred schools and started 5th year in a new setting, hoping for a new start, and it was at first.

“But slowly comments started rolling in. I remember in science class, a person whispered ‘Chink’ at me, I looked over and they started laughing. I felt so degraded and I thought to myself, this can’t be happening again.

“I was so close to finishing school. But I couldn’t handle being there. After the whole thing, going to two different schools, trying to get away from all the comments, that I will never fully get away from, I felt hopeless and tired. I went through five years of abuse from people, I had enough of it.”

So in November, 2019, Roisin made the radical decision to leave school.

“I really had no choice. I wanted to finish school but the people in there never gave me that chance. I do not plan on going back, I’m afraid it will happen again. Words stick, the comments made in 2016, five years ago, are still with me, to this day.”

Roisin, who lives between Bandon and Clonakilty and who was supported by her family throughout, worked part time in an office in the city centre after leaving school.

Roisin Hurley's jewellery
Roisin Hurley's jewellery

“I still work there now and with the Level 5 restrictions, I work from home. I love going to work, the people there don’t judge me, they don’t say mean comments. It’s the most comfortable environment I’ve been in.”

Last summer she discovered the art of metal stamping using YouTube videos, and a whole new world opened up to her.

“With the money I accumulated from work, I decided to start a business. I love to metal stamp, and thought why not start a business? Last October, I launched my business which I called Draíocht — the Irish word for magic.

“I launched several products, I learned everything by myself, the use of pliers and jump rings and measurements. I manage, advertise, finance, and make all items in the shop — and all from my bedroom!”

Sales are picking up, she says, and she’s shipped items all over Ireland, the UK, U.S, France, and the Netherlands.

“I have been so pleased with how it turned out. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’m really hoping I can turn this into a full time job,” Roisin added.

She admits she still feels traumatised by what happened to her, but she’s come through the other side and her advice to anyone suffering like she did, is: “Don’t let the bullies define who you are. Be one level above them, don’t stoop to their level.

“Don’t let them stop you from what you’re doing, don’t let them take control of your life.”

See www.draiochtco.com.

I have been so pleased with how it turned out. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’m really hoping I can turn this into a full time job.

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