Nicola McGuinness says that her business has been "decimated" by the Covid-19 crisis. In 2016, she founded Rowan Beg designs - a handmade candle company based in her home in Renvyle, Connemara, Co Galway.
In January, the business was poised to have its most successful year. Now, Ms McGuinness said, “there is nothing”.
“I’m sitting looking at a lot of stock that was made and is supposed to be going to shops, and it’s not going anywhere.”
She and 18 other small Irish creative businesses have suddenly been left with a surplus of stock, and almost no orders coming in. Wanting to do something positive, they came together to donate products to make hampers worth €1,300 to reward those doing good during the Covid-19 crisis.
Using the hashtag #feelgoodstories, all 18 companies are using social media to ask people to nominate someone “truly deserving”. They include Bean and Goose chocolate, Celtic Tweed, Irish Linen House and Aria-V jewellery.
The businesses are asking Instagram followers to nominate “selfless frontline workers who are dedicating their time to make sure the nation is kept safe”. It could be doctors, pharmacists or people working in a supermarket.
“We just wanted to stop some of that panic and start getting stories out about all these ordinary people who are pitching in to help,” Ms McGuinness said.
She said that all 19 Irish businesses involved were now solely relying on online orders, so they would be keeping their websites up and trying to work from home during the next few weeks. “There will be some small Irish creators who will not make it through this,” she said.
Other small Irish businesses are also trying to adapt to working online. The White Hag Irish Brewing Company, which is based in Co Sligo, has just launched its first “online only” beer.
A new product called Phantom was canned live on camera.
“These are extraordinary times and we have to adapt and change how we do business to ensure we keep our business and brand alive,” said Bob Coggins, a commercial director at White Hag. “This type of innovation will hopefully save jobs and ultimately our business, and we need to act quickly to influence our customers’ buying behaviour.”
Small gyms and fitness classes have also been forced to innovate.
Live and Breathe Pilates, based in Dublin 8, is one of a number of studios that are now live-streaming their classes for clients who are no longer able to go in person.
Artists who are suffering from gig cancellations have also been finding ways to keep their audiences entertained. Davey Reilly, a comedian based in Dublin, has started live-streaming weekly MasterMindyourself “not in the pub” quizzes on YouTube.