1. Entrepreneur you admire:
Jamie Olivier. Having been a working single mum to two young girls, travelling and commuting in and out of London, it was rare that I had the time to cook “properly”. My eldest daughter bought me the first Jamie book (I think she was trying to tell me something!) and as a result, I found his down to earth approach to cooking and the simplicity of the recipes fun and found them far from being a chore.
I have all his books and I believe his drive to make School Meals much healthier is admirable and with his vibrant energy he is slowly changing the way younger families and young parents approach cooking for the family. I also believe that in recession hit times – and since the world has become so “time short” – his 30 minute cost effective menus are a great incentive for families to sit around the table, get off the sofa and talk! Unfortunately the art of sitting down as a family and sharing the days stories has dwindled, bring back dinner around the table!
2. Favourite film
The Quiet Man. The charisma of the Irish, the music, the scenery, the love story, the rain, the white shirt, and the wind is all amazing! I’ve watched it dozens of times and each time it feels like the first. I’ve been to Cong where it was filmed and bought a packet of sweets from what was “Pat Cohan’s” bar! I’m a total romantic, but loved the film for its humour and innocence.
Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. As a family, we loved music and played all sorts from the old songs of John McCormack to Frank Sinatra to the Bee Gees. I grew up with opera, jazz, swing, traditional music blazing through the house. However, the Humming Chorus from Madame Butterfly still gives me goose bumps and I cry every time I see it. My favourite band is Meatloaf. As a broken hearted thirteen year old, Two out of Three ain’t Bad takes me right back to that time and the pain whereby Paradise by the Dash Board Light has been sung with wooden spoons around the Kitchen Island with babies in nappies on tow (probably not appropriate)!
4. Favourite TV Show
Period Drama. I will stop everything to sit and watch period dramas from The House of Elliott to Poldark to today’s Downton Abbey. The costumes, manner and beautiful scenery of these stories take you back in time where you can memorise the old values and behaviours of such eras.
Les Miserables. I’ve been to see Les Mis four times. It’s a bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it! I can’t get enough of it, the excitement of the music, belief in the cause and the absolute pain and serenity of the love story. Other shows I enjoy include Chicago, Top Hat and Mama Mia. I aim to see shows and plays that make you say on the way home, “that was amazing”.
6. Holiday destination
Lisfannon, Co Donegal. One of my happiest moments as a child was swimming in Lough Swilly, Co Donegal with my two brothers in the pouring rain. We were absolutely frozen, but we felt nothing but happiness. The freedom of a childhood where you could stay out til dark, sleep in a cosy caravan (slept five, there were seven of us!), watch the characters of the various families around you and enjoy the different personalities for eight weeks of holiday and freedom. I intend to buy a small white cottage in Donegal, just like Mary Kate! I travel home to Derry regularly and we always make sure we walk the long beach wrapped up warm and enjoy the sea and the air. The air is so good – a real tonic – if only it could be bottled.
Birdsong; Sebastian Faulks I’ve read what feels like zillions of books, but Birdsong which I’ve read twice touches me so much very much for those heros of World War I. My major learning from the book was how the Welsh miners played such an important role in this cruel harsh War. The love story of Stephen and Isabelle intertwined with the raw human fear of death and the tantalising excitement of love.
8. A person you admire
My mother. A true survivor. Married her first love and was ecstatic. However, as a result of the troubles in Northern Ireland, the family business was lost and so was our home. A young mother at 26 with five children all under the age of six. She lost her youngest son at 21 in a fatal accident in Donegal, her first love who never recovered from his death died six years later and then her oldest son at 39 died through a heart attack. How does one survive such pain?, My mother did and does. She is an inspiration and a wonderful role model for me and my children. Keep it up Mum, you are amazing and I’m so proud of you!
9. One piece of advice you would give to a new start up.
Be prepared to work very hard. There are so many things to think about. For example, if you have come from a background where do your job, get paid regularly and then go home, running your own company is a huge shock. There are so many things to think about from employee insurance, public liability, PAYE, VAT, supplier relationships and transportation but to name a few.
It’s vital you manage your budgeting, costings and research your market and competitors. One of the biggest failings of any new start up is cash flow, be prepared for those rainy days – expect the unexpected.
However, the feeling of being the decision maker and having the power to bring on change when needed is exhilarating. Tenacity is vital, it will take time, there will be pain and sleepless nights, but DON’T give up!