‘Carol Molloy, a native of Glagow who moved to Ireland in 2002, is a self-styled ‘mumtrepreneur’. She may be the first to coin the catchphrase, but I think we all know, and admire, someone whose doing what she is - trying to raise a family and run her own business at the same time.
Carol, a 34-year-old mother two, worked as a project manager in a facilities management company until she was made redundant last July.
Never one to simply spend her redundancy package and then just watch daytime tv, she quickly decided she was going to realise her lifelong dream of setting up her own business.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been without a business plan of some sort. I think, over the years,” she smiles. “I must have come up with a few dozen ideas for businesses I’d like to go into. I always dreamed of starting my own business but the time was never right, who knows if it even is the right time now, but ‘nothing ventured nothing gained!”
When she looked at her two sons, Connor and Aiden, who are now aged 2 and 14 months respectively, it didn’t take her long to figure out kind of enterprise she wanted to start up.
“I found myself going to bigger towns and cities, like Letterkenny, Strabane and Enniskillen to buy the things I needed for the children - cots, prams, clothing, toys, etc. I thought it would be nice to buy them closer to home. So, I started small, by sellling at the Variety Market in Ballyshannon at the weekends.”
Fortunately, Carol’s husband Noel, a native of Laghey, encouraged her. “He’s very patient and knows how determined a person I am. So, I think he realised very quickly that there was no point being anything other than positive about it all - which I very much appreciate!
“I started during the summer, in August, and was really pleased at how well it went. It really encouraged me to look at doing it on a bigger scale.
“I looked into getting someone to set up a web site for me but, in the end, I found a way to set it up myself, which was cheaper and gave me a lot of confidence.
“The website, www.kidskornerdirect.com, went live at the beginning of October, and I’m delighted to say that the orders are coming in.
“I am trying to create a complete range of products that cater from baby through to toddler. I still have a way to go in sourcing all the products I would like but the website still has a great range at present. I also have seasonal items and have a Christmas toys and stocking filler section.”
This latest development led Carol on to another business idea - to organise a Christmas Fair in Donegal town. The fair will take place in the Abbey Hotel on Monday, November 14, from 5.30 to 10pm.
“My aim with the Christmas Fair is to create a place where small businesses could come together to showcase and sell their products for the Christmas season.
“I have been lucky to have had the help of two other mothers who also happen to be ‘mumtrepreneurs’ (and good friends) - photographer Barbara McGroary and Breege Haughey who owns Irish Craft Studio. Breege has created the designs for the advertising and they look amazing. We’ve also created a facebook page and there has already been a lot of interest in that. All the tables are gone and the interest was so great from traders that I had to change the room to accommodate more tables.
“We want to create a real festive atmosphere, so Foroige will be there singing carols for us. And a woman from Foroige will also be doing face painting for the children. Foroige will be collecting donations to help fund their trip Zambia to work with an orphanage there.
“I also thought I should take the opportunity to raise a little money for the ISPCC and collected a few lovely prizes for a raffle. The tickets will be on sale for 2 euro each up to and including the 14th and the raffle will be drawn at the end of the Fair.”
And, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a few treats! The Abbey Hotel will be selling mulled wine, hot chocolate and minced pies on the night of the Fair, to add to the atmosphere.
So, come along, whatever your age, and tick a few boxes off your Christmas shopping list while enjoying a good night of festive cheer.
As if all that wasn’t enough to keep Carol busy, apart from looking after the two young fellas, she’s managed to find time to get involved in another project - The Donegal Town Parent & Toddler Group.
“They meet twice a week, on Tuesdays at 10.30am in the Bosco Centre and on Thursdays, also at 10.30am, in Bumblebees. It’s a great organisation, a real godsend for parents of young children, because it gives you the chance to get out and meet people without having to organise a babysitter.
“People can easily forget how isolated you can feel if you’re at home with young children. Not everyone has family right on the doorstep who will mind the wee ones from time to time and not everyone has the money to pay a childminder every time they want to go the door.
“The Parent and Toddler Group is a great way to enjoy a cup of tea and catch up with some ‘grown up’ conversation time, while you children are busy having fun as well.”
Carol’s enthusiasm for this type of organisation is plain to see and it’s obvious that she’s already thinking ahead to where it might take her next.
“Over the course of the next year, I hope to organise a number of special market events specialising in items for babies, toddlers and young children. It would give parents a chance to sell old, unwanted items and make a few bob and meet other parents, of course. And, for those looking to pick up a few bargains, it would be ideal.”
If you’d like to contact Carol regarding any of these projects, you can ring her on 087 745 5605 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.