Today is the first day of working full time with By Leahy. I can't express the full extent of the feelings I am experiencing - they range from sheer excitement to amazement. Amazement that By Leahy has gotten to this stage where I am in the position to leave a permanent role and commit to taking By Leahy to the next level. Perhaps I am partially mad, but my decision was ultimately made when I realised that I would regret it forever if I didn't commit now.
I spent the first hour of this morning at the bench, being reminded of one of the reasons I love making jewellery so much - the quiet solitude in which the mind roams - and I was thinking back to when things shifted pace with By Leahy.
Since founding By Leahy in 2019, I have worked full time in the tech industry. By Leahy started as a hobby, spending early mornings, late evenings, and weekends doing something I love - designing and making fine jewellery and growing a brand. Fast forward to August 2020, two pivotal things happened.
I was awarded a grant from Údarás na Gaeltachta. The grant helped me invest in parts of the business I had always wanted - my website, beautiful brand imagery, and ad spend to grow awareness faster. By Leahy has been bootstrapped from day one, using savings to cover the costs of the first samples and tools, and the grant allowed me to develop parts of the business much sooner than I would have been able to otherwise.
More importantly, that same month, our beautiful little girl was born. A lot was going on! I look back now; I’m not quite sure how I managed it all, but with the unwavering support of my husband and family, I was able to keep up with the increasing demands on By Leahy while also savouring every moment with Small Features. As I enjoyed maternity leave from my full-time job, I took advantage of my daughter’s love of sleep, using her nap times to manage orders and continue to grow the brand.
By Leahy started to receive a fantastic welcome from the press in Ireland and was featured in the most impressive publications. Thanks to the increasing awareness, the growth in my customer base took off, and, with that, lovely relationships with my customers grew too. Month-on-month orders rose, and the growth continued. In August 2021, I went back to my full-time job and balanced By Leahy as I had before, albeit with a lot more efficiency now that I had a fantastic new Chief Mess Officer on the team. Then came the end of 2021, and sales quadrupled out of nowhere. I couldn’t explain it, but I survived it, and as I wound down and stepped into the Christmas break, I took the time to reflect and concluded that it was now or never!
I am beyond excited about what's next...
2022 has kicked off firmly. I was accepted onto the incredibly competitive Going for Growth Programme backed by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, which is helping to build the best foundation for By Leahy. I have also been accepted into the Crafting Europe Program and the Council of Irish Fashion Designers. The brand continues to be very well supported by the Design & Crafts Council Ireland. I am also delighted to say that new stockists are coming on board, so keep an eye out for more details. And, some much-requested products will be launching in the coming months.
Last but most importantly, another team member will be joining us in May as we look forward to welcoming our second baby. If I thought I was busy now, this will be the next test – but I couldn’t wish for a better one! Onwards and upwards, and here’s to all of the fantastic excitement ahead!
I'm still pinching myself that I’ve gotten to this stage with By Leahy, and it’s all thanks to the support and encouragement I’ve received along the way, for which I am incredibly grateful. If you are reading this, you have likely contributed to that success, or you may yet – thank you, to you.