An Irish designer from Buncrana is growing her business internationally by embracing e-commerce.
Bernie Murphy, an entrepreneur and designer based in Buncrana, creates unique, handmade headbands, garments and accessories, sustainably sourced, using local mills in Donegal.
Bernie seeks inspiration from the beautiful landscapes and environment that surrounds her and loves working with Donegal Tweed and developing new contemporary styles. Working with Donegal Local Enterprise Office, Bernie secured a Trading Online Voucher to set up an e-commerce website and now trades to the world from her base in Inishowen.
“I had worked in Fruit of the Loom for many years before I was made redundant in 2006” Bernie said. “I decided to go back to college; I thought I wanted to be an interior designer, but that involved sitting at a computer for hours at a time working on special designs and I quickly realised it wasn’t for me. However, for my critical study, I had the Senior lecturer in Fashion and Textile Design and I loved everything that was happening in the classroom, so once I completed my HDC in Spatial Design, I decided to do a HND in Fashion & Textile Design. After I got my HND, I did a top-up Degree in Textile Art at the University of Ulster. Then, through Local Enterprise Office Donegal, I got involved with the Creative Coast and Design and Crafts Council Ireland; I completed the Craft Development Business Course and it all started from there”.
“I launched the business in 2017” Bernie said. “At the time, I thought it had good traction, but things didn’t get really busy for me until the first lockdown. Previously, I had retailers buying from me but during the lockdown, with retailers closed, people started coming to my website and buying directly from me. This sustained my business. It has also extended my customer base; I’ve had buyers from Helsinki, to Holland, Germany, the US and El Salvador. I would estimate that now 60 to 70% of my business comes through the website – it’s been the key to the growth of my business.”
Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise Donegal, says demand for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme has increased dramatically in the past 18 months: “Throughout the pandemic, the Trading Online Voucher has been an essential part of our Covid-19 business supports for small businesses in Donegal. Through successive lockdowns, online sales have been a lifeline to many SMEs, and Bernie Murphy is among over 800 Donegal businesses that have successfully upgraded their e-commerce site through a Trading Online Voucher.”
“To date, Donegal Local Enterprise Office has awarded close to €1.8 million to help businesses develop new e-commerce websites, enhancing their capacity to trade locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.” added Michael.
Adding to this Grace Korbel, Business Advisor with Local Enterprise Office Donegal, said: “As more and more consumers take their business online, the Trading Online Vouchers help to ensure that businesses in Donegal are building the capacity now which will see them well positioned to take advantage of the digital transformation into the future – just as Bernie Murphy has done. The expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme is designed to assist small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. Businesses can now get two vouchers, so we would encourage anyone interested in developing their online sales to get in touch.”
The Trading Online Voucher (TOV) offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 with co-funding of 50% from the business for a new website. To find out how a Trading Online Voucher from Donegal Local Enterprise Office can help your business trade to the world online, visit https://www.localenterprise.ie/Donegal