SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, FIONAN COUGHLAN DISCUSSES BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR, SHOPPING CONSCIOUSLY, AND GROWING A BUSINESS IN A CHANGING WORLD
By Ciara McKenna
In Limerick, we are seeing more and more small businesses close as consumers move to online shopping and big-name brands. I spoke to a local entrepreneur, Fionan Coughlan, to get an inside look into the changing market and why it’s so important to shop consciously.
Re:story is a small business in the Milk Market that sells handcrafted and locally produced items. Its founder and owner Fionan started off studying international business at the University of Limerick but wasn’t sure which direction he would take after graduating. He decided to spend a summer upskilling, and learning about digital design, 3-D printing, and furniture manufacturing.
After gaining practical skills that he could attach to his university education, furniture manufacture became his focus, but the big-name companies made it difficult in a business sense as he found there wasn’t a market for locally produced items. “I had to think about what sets local produce apart from the mass producers and from my background in marketing, I decided that it was the story of the item, how it was made, who made it, and what materials were used. That’s why I started this business Re:story, to pair the story with the produce”.
When Fionan first opened his doors, he felt that it was “a shot in the dark”. It was through doing that he was able to find what would work for him and how he could compete in the market. Now stocking other hand-crafted items, the product line is growing. “The idea is that the products are made locally and are sustainable”
Now working on a website launch, he has noticed a trend of businesses closing their doors to move fully online “There’s a lot of costs involved in running a brick-and-mortar store, a lot of independent stored can’t survive anymore and the gap in the market they leave is gobbled up by these bigger businesses, we don’t want to go online but we have to”.
“Now that we live in a global world, we need to see our local communities as our partners and colleagues instead of our competitors, it will ultimately benefit the city as a whole, as well as local creatives. On paper Limerick really has it all, it’s just a bit disjointed, when we connect the dots for me that’s when Limerick will come into its own.”
Speaking on how to make changes that will benefit everyone Fionan had the following tips, “We can’t succeed unless people start to shift away from online and start to care about where their products come from and shop more consciously”. “A good way to learn how to do this is to start producing something yourself, whether its art, music or anything, you begin to gain an appreciation for the act of producing something of value. As well as connecting people from different communities together.
Find out more about Re:story