Located on their family farm in the Irish midlands, Lorna was keen to combine her love of interiors and shopping with working on the farm and looking after their two children. Garrendenny Lane was born, named after a lane running through their farm.
Tell us about your background and training; how you got into interiors...
We lived in the UK for 12 years, where we purchased our first house which took us 5 years to renovate. This is when the interior design 'bug' was really planted! Over the following 5 years we renovated a further 4 houses. Each time we planned to stay in the house but we soon got itchy feet once the paint had dried!
At this time I was working as a teacher but I started training in interior design. We moved back to Ireland in 2002, had 2 children and decided to start my own business. I completed my training and began the business in 2007.
When and how did you get the business off the ground?
I started the business in Nov 2007 - primarily as interior design consultancy and selling designer fabrics and wallpapers. I added the online shop to the business in August 2008.
Tell us about the journey...
It's been very much a rollercoaster, partly due to the dramatic change in Ireland's economic circumstances. I also found that I thoroughly enjoy blogging, using social media and managing an online store. I love sourcing lovely stock to sell, travelling to Maison D'Objet and to Irish trade shows, writing about our products, getting a buzz from seeing our products featured in magazines and Sunday newspapers, engaging with people on facebook, the blog and twitter and selling. The only aspect I don't enjoy is the paperwork and the VAT returns! In 2010 I made the decision to phase out the interior design consultancy and concentrate on the online sales, and target an international market. This involved considerable investment as I set up a new website, which was launched in October 2010. It will have a considerable amount of functionality to include a wallpaper calculator, a birthday reminder service with a gift suggestion service, cushion and curtain making and more... and this should be completed by May 2011
What gives you the most satisfaction when it comes to having your own business?
Being in charge of my own time - I can choose if I want to work at 6 am or 11 pm or not! Well, to be honest, being self employed means that one or the other is often likely but I don't mind as I enjoy it so much. In fact, I sometimes wonder am I analytical enough with my business as I enjoy it perhaps too much. I also love being able to do things with the kids when they are off school, from being there virtually every day to do their homework with them, bring them to swimming lessons, beavers etc.
I get a real buzz when I see our products featured in magazines and weekend newspapers.
How do you manage work/life balance?
Well, I actually ended up on a time management television programme 2 years ago to help me with the work/life balance, partly because I didn't have any work/life boundaries. It was called 'Not Enough Hours'. One of the most useful things I learnt was to plan a closed 'to do' list each day so each day would be reasonably well planned, yes, things can change, children can be sick, phone calls can come in that change things but you learn to adapt too. I find that once I do the list, I am more realistic with the length of time that various things take, for example, uploading products to the site can take a surprisingly long time so I tend to devote a length of time to that at a time, for example, 2 hours, rather than planning to upload 20 new products!
I really enjoy blogging so don't view it as work at all and often write my blog posts while watching television in the evenings when the children have gone to bed. I tend to multi task, hence it would be rare for me to watch television and not do anything else - I would usually be blogging, surfing the site, uploading products, crocheting, sewing or reading as well!
Lorna's Mother's Day ideas
We have a wide range of gifts that are suitable for Mother's Day. For example, we sell unusual Irish ceramic jewellery. Rebeka Kahn Artwear which is both unusual and beautiful, we stock fun and pretty Irish prints from Love Ireland, Greengate is always very popular as gifts too and starts at only £5 for the little floral Tin Flour Dredgers. Other popular gifts include the Bunbury chopping boards which can be traced to the actual tree which was felled, Lene Bjerre, Bold and Noble and much much more.
Our shipping to the UK is £7.50 on the entire order and we can send a gift directly to the recipient, it will be beautifully gift wrapped (for free) and a handwritten greeting card will also be enclosed.
Shop at http://www.garrendennylane.com/
Greengate Wendy flour dredger in tin £5
Blue Fay I litre Jug £29