'I had two weeks to get my shop running - it was sink or swim!'
Getting a business off the ground in just two weeks is no mean feat but that's what Kathy Rogers did in Arklow three years ago.
The Wicklow Town native was made redundant with the loss of her managerial job in former local health store Bionic Tonic and she knew she had to 'sink or swim'.
With almost a decade of experience in the health store industry as well as a qualification in Holistic Therapy, Kathy was professionally equipped to go out on her own but needed a business loan.
'I said that I would go for it so I went to the bank and they said they would give me the loan but wanted it all paid back in a year which was not feasible. Then I went to the Credit Union and they were amazingly helpful. I would recommend the Credit Union to anyone starting out in businesses as they made the whole experience so positive.'
Despite it being in the height of the recession, Kathy stuck to her guns and set about transforming her Main Street premises into the well stocked and welcoming health store that it is today – Health at Hand.
'In a way, it was very easy because I knew all the suppliers personally from my previous jobs and I was able to buy a lot of the fittings from Una in Bionic Tonic so I just moved them straight in. Then I called in favours from all my family and friends and hit Ikea. My brother-in-law and his brother-in-law built the counter for me so everyone was really helpful. It was a frantic two weeks but we got there in the end.'
Since opening, Health at Hand has maintained a steady trade and in the past year has enjoyed a small increase in business which Kathy says is very welcome.
'Things have improved a small bit in the last year. We have some lovely repeat customers who support the shop and we get a lot of people in from word of mouth which is great. With so many products like supplements on sale everywhere for a couple of euro it is hard to get across to people how some of the products we sell are superior. They are not all the same and there are so many factors in terms of manufacturing to be considered.
'It is hard to get people to spend more on a better product but explaining the benefits to customers helps.'