WORKING AT HOME HAS FRINGE BENEFITS FOR LEONA!
The Barons have put their heads together in business!When local woman Leona Barron heads to the RDS in Dublin next month to exhibit at the Pregnancy and Baby Fair, it will mark a huge milestone for the mother of two.The mum of two who established thriving ecommerce business, Pretty Baby Hair Accessories, from her own kitchen table – just by finding a solution to keeping her new-born baby’s big mop of black hair from falling into her eyes.“When Grace (who is now aged 5) was born, she had a beautiful full head of black hair and I was looking for clips to keep the hair from her eyes. The only ones I could find in stores were metal ones that were too harsh to put on a newborns head, so initially all I did was wrap the clips in some pretty ribbon to soften them against her head. People started asking me then where I got them. I started making some for friends and family members, but at that point it was very much a hobby.”A former Economics and Business Studies teacher, Leona who lives with her husband Seamus and children Grace (5) and Michael (3) in Galdonagh, Manorcunningham, had been teaching full-time in a school in England before she came back to Ireland to get married.Here, the best she could find was a subbing position that she admits, was soul destroying.“You had to get up, get dressed and ready every morning and hope that the call would come. A lot of days it didn’t, but even when it did you went into unfamiliar classes, you never really got to know your students, it was tough. When an administration role at Letterkenny firm SITA became available, she applied and was successful. It was a job she loved, but developing her own business idea was never far from her mind.“I was always creative; I love to make things, so this was a nice hobby. When I became pregnant a second time I started to look towards filling the time that I would be off work and it’s really from there that the business idea grew.”Leona created an entire range of ultra soft baby headbands, hair clips and accessories specifically for the newborn to toddler market and then set about getting a website built to launch them. It was all entirely new to her.“When the children were asleep I sat down and taught myself Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and basic Digital Marketing. I was creating the first online store in Ireland that exclusively made hair accessories for newborns to toddlers. After many months of intense work, I managed to get the website to the number one position in Google searches in both Ireland and the UK and the orders really started coming in.As the business was getting off the ground I was trying to juggle it with my full-time job and looking after my young family and it was all pretty hectic. I realised that I needed to do something to restore the work-life balance, so I left my job to concentrate on Pretty Baby Hair Accessories. And thankfully, that decision has paid off.” Since October 2013 Leona has watched the orders increase hugely on her website www.prettybabyhair.co.uk. To date the business has shipped thousands of orders to customers in over 50 countries around the world. And with this extraordinary growth of Pretty Baby Hair Accessories, new plans are already in place for the business.Leona’s days are all mapped out around her kids’ schedules, from making the products to processing and posting the orders but she is ambitious and determined and is designing a new product range made from organic cotton, with her eye on launching a baby boy accessories range before the end of 2016.“I do have to outsource a small percentage of the components I use to make my products, but the vast majority of all the products are handmade by me. When I get my new product range up and running I will need to employ someone else who is a specialist in sewing to help with the workload, but I really see that as an opportunity for employing another work-at-home person locally.”Her emphasis on local benefits where possible, is already evident on her website where she collaborated with Pure Purple Studios in Letterkenny, providing samples for photo shoots that gave her some stunning images to use on her website. “I knew from the start the significance of the brand identity, I needed people to come on the site and think wow! These products are gorgeous. It was brilliant to be able to collaborate with Pure Purple, they got some great shots and so did we, while the parents who brought their children along got a free print so everyone was happy!”In April however Leona faces a new challenge when she heads to the RDS for Ireland’s largest exhibition, The Pregnancy and Baby Fair, where she will be showcasing her brand alongside some of the biggest names in the global baby industry. The prospect is one that scares her a little, but excites her even more.“All my sales so far have been online, every single one. This will be the first time that I will be out front and actually meeting customers face to face, showcasing my physical product to them. The organisers expect around 20,000 visitors over the course of the weekend, so it will be busy and hopefully a big success.”It’s all a far cry from wrapping some ribbon around some hard baby hair clips five years ago to keep her newborn baby’s fringe from falling into her eyes, but Leona says giving a business idea a real go is something she’d love to see more women try.“I knew nothing about any of this, but I saw a niche in the market and after doing some research I went for it. I didn’t have a huge outlay but I did work hard and was determined to make it succeed if I could. There are thousands of woman around the world who are at home developing their own business ideas in between changing nappies and doing the school run. I would encourage anyone with a good idea and something to sell, to seize the opportunity. Who knows where it might lead them!”WORKING AT HOME HAS FRINGE BENEFITS FOR LEONA! was last modified: March 14th, 2016 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalhair productsmanorcunninghamSinead Barron