It may be a tough time economically, but some businesses out there are willing to take a chance on a new opportunity – including a gifts and interiors store that has just relocated from Thomastown to Kilkenny, and to a larger premises to boot.
Business partners Milo Fitzgerald, Andrew Ryan and Mary Mulroy have opened Gorgeous at 14 John Street Lower, adding a further creative element to the area that is aimed to be developed as an arts hub in the city. It’s also fittingly located across from the Kilkenny County Council Arts Office and near the Kilkenny Arts Festival box office.
In a way, it’s advantageous to be starting out in the downturn without having had to weather the hit of the economic crash.
“In our case, we are setting up a business as opposed to people who have had businesses going over a number of years and experiencing the boom and bust. We hadn’t experienced the boom, because we set up after it was over,” said Milo.
“We don’t have the burden of having had huge sales figures that are now greatly reduced and all that goes with that – we didn’t have staff or a long lease.”
They also had the benefit of using the smaller Thomastown premises as a way to test the market, to get to know their suppliers, and to experiment with what works and what does not.
“It was about testing the product, building relationships with suppliers, testing the market to see what sells and what doesn’t sell, which companies are good to deal with,” said Mary.
“Our year and a half in Thomastown was a valuable learning experience. It also allowed us to build up stock in that period and to launch our online business,” Andrew added of their website, www.gorgeourgiftsandinteriors.com.
“Starting out small allows you to do all those things rather than jump in at the deep end.”
Interior designers by trade, they got their initial inspiration for the shop when travelling around European cities and discovering quirky and well-designed products. “Travelling around, going on holidays to London or Europe, you come across really funky shops but you never see this stuff over here, so we thought it would be fun to give it a bash and see how it goes,” he said.
“We got really frustrated trying to buy presents for friends. So many shops had things that were quite similar,” Milo agreed. “The idea is to have things that are a bit different, a bit quirky.”
In addition to having good footfall and parking nearby, the John Street space gives them a place to base their other business operations from, including their designs for a House of Horrors and Santa’s Grotto at Tayto Park in County Meath.
Their window display will also be a key aspect to the business, following on from their success at their Thomastown premises, where their window displays won awards in the town at Christmastime and from the Tidy Towns committee.
With their shopfront finally painted thanks to a break in the rainy weather, they are already settling in nicely and getting to know their neighbours – including Eamon Langton, who has bought a set of trays from the shop to feature in his bar across the road.