We catch up with founder and CEO Lulu O’Sullivan as The Irish Store celebrates its 10th birthday.
“A little piece of Ireland, directly to your door”.
Updated Sep 20, 2021: This competition on IrishCentral in association with The Irish Store is now closed. Thanks to everyone who took part.
Congratulations on your 10th birthday! What was the inspiration behind The Irish Store?
It was my maternal grandmother, Kitty O’Shea who originally inspired me to go into business. She was something of a pioneer and opened a shop on Merrion Row in Dublin in 1920. When I was a young girl I would help out in the shop every Saturday. She strongly believed in supporting local suppliers and her loyal customers would walk the extra distance to her shop because of the friendly welcome they received there. It was my first experience of exceptional customer service and it stayed with me.
I set up my first business, Interteddy in 1987. This developed into giftsdirect.com in the late 1990s which was one of the first e-commerce businesses in Ireland delivering a range of food baskets and occasion gifts and is now Ireland’s leading online gift delivery company.
In 2009 I was lucky enough to secure a place on the Leadership 4 Growth course in Stanford University in California and it was while doing the course that the idea for The Irish Store was hatched. I’ve always been passionate about Irish craft and design so it made sense for me to set up an online store where the Irish diaspora and fans of Ireland alike could shop the best of Irish products while at the same time connecting with their Irish heritage in a meaningful way. We launched The Irish Store in 2011 and the rest is history!
Highlights along the way?
The biggest highlight for me has to the wonderful feedback we receive from our customers. A real sense of community has developed over the past 10 years. Our customers in the US are so passionate about Ireland-not only its craft and design but also its places, history, and culture which I love to explore in my weekly blog.
Our designer collaborations have been very exciting. This started back in 2016 with New York based Irish fashion designer Daryl K. Last year we collaborated with the internationally renowned designer Paul Costello. Our upcoming fall/winter collection includes new pieces from both Daryl and Paul as well as two new pieces from up and coming designer Orla Brady who is a graduate of Ireland’s National College of Art & Design. I think it’s hugely important to nurture new Irish talent.
It has also been wonderful to grow relationships with and continue to support some of our finest makers and craftspeople from all 4 corners of Ireland.
What’s the secret of your success?
Two things. First and foremost, an ongoing dedication to the best possible customer experience. The e-commerce world is ever changing and it’s important to grow and innovate accordingly to improve and enhance that experience.
Secondly, build a great team. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by super talented people who share my passion for Ireland and all things Irish.
So how are you celebrating 10 years of The Irish Store?
We’ll be offering 10 deals over 10 days on 10 of our customer's favorite 5 star rated pieces from The Irish Store Collection. We’re also giving away two of my favorite Aran sweaters to lucky IrishCentral readers!
To be in a chance of winning an Aran sweater from The Irish Store, fill out the competition form below:
*THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED*