Excerpt taken from The Irish Times, 17th May 2019
Two years ago milliner Margaret O’Connor was unemployed but she had a great reputation and a string of international accolades to her name.
Now she has a new title, Ireland’s Top Entrepreneur, with her new collection of headwear called Cloud Nine.
Ms O’Connor was chosen from among 17 shortlisted finalists at the Irish Local Development Network awards in Tullamore on Thursday evening.
Most of the finalists were made redundant or lost their jobs but are now back working as a result of support received from local development companies, the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) and Short Term Enterprise Allowance scheme (STEA).
For Margaret O’Connor the award is the culmination of an amazing year that has also seen her win the best hat at the Dublin Horse Show. Her creations have also been worn by Lady Gaga and featured in a music video by UK band Years & Years.
“I want people to take a chance on fashion, for it to be more accessible to them. When I was younger fashion wasn’t that accessible to me because of my rural background.” She is from Tubber, Co Clare.
“I would be happy on my own in my studio making hats until the cows come home, I couldn’t do this if I hadn’t been made do this or guided to do this, I needed to be pushed. Clare Local Development Board were the ones who got me to do my business plan, they got me to do everything, to get my premises.
“Suddenly in two years I am a business woman.”
Margaret says “If it wasn’t for the back to work scheme and Clare local development I wudnt have my shop and business in Summerhill in Ennis ,Co’Clare. I’m so lucky to have this help. Last night I was lucky enough to be The winner of the National Enterprise Awards nominated and supported by Clare Local Development Company”
Read a case study on Margaret’s business journey here