The Ireland Shop was an ecommerce business i started quite by accident. After a holiday in Ireland I tried to order online some beautiful artisan products i had found while traveling but hand’t been able to fit in my suitcase. I was horrified at how these beautiful products were being displayed online! They were being ‘showcased’ on outdated websites with a poor user experiences, pixelated images, photos that had no styling so products look old fashioned and unimaginative product descriptions. Overall these products and all the skill, craftsmanship and people behind the products were all being completely undersold and lost.
I thought i could do better! So instead of justing thinking it, i decided to do it. I designed an ecommerce site, got a friend to build it for me in exchange for some design work, organised two photoshoots (one at my parents apartment and another at a friends farm in the countryside) complete with a professional team of photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists and models. I had no money but instead offered my design skills and called on talented friends for favours. Within 6 weeks i was live with a total of 20 products from 5 different suppliers and had a stand at one of London’s biggest christmas shopping popup events.
My whole product range was created by Irish artisans or craftsmen and it was my mission to support these makers and to marry tradition with modern design. I wanted users to be able to see how the products had been made and to meet the makers. The site had to be full of inspiring content and photographs, full of life and showing the products in a contemporary way that would engage users and inevitably get them to purchase.
I ran The Ireland Shop for a year and half before deciding to focus on freelance work. I may not have carried on with his business but i learnt so much! Setting up a company, setting up a payment gateway so you can sell online, dealing with suppliers, negotiating free samples, prices and payment terms, organising logistics, keeping on top of stock levels, creating a brand, photographing products, copywriting, customer service and doing all this with no savings or investment. All i had were my own skills, trading my design skills and asking lots of favours.