Meet our 2016 Business Parent of the Year Winner Keelin O'Keeffe
Last month. eumom were delighted to join a host of worthy winners at the Royal Marine Hotel Dun Laoghaire for the 2016 Boots maternity & infant awards. Proudly sponsoring the eumom Business Parent of the Year Award again this year, the eumom team were honoured to celebrate the achievements of award winner & mom of two, Keelin O'Keeffe.
Nothing got in the way of Keelin achieving her vision. Her passion to succeed is inspirational and her stunning products have even caught the attention of US celebrity party planner Mindy Weiss (whose client list includes Heidi Klum, Ellen Degeneres & the Kardashian clan) who has plans to incorporate kiki moon products into her famed luxury baby showers. Keelin is not just an inspiring businesswoman, but also a proud mom of 2 with designer flair and finesse.
Tell me a bit about your business
Kiki moon is a boutique textile label specialising in fresh & innovative design-led baby blankets. Made in Portugal from 100% organic cotton, the blankets are beautifully packaged in our signature kiki moon luxury gift boxes. The collection offers a unique twist on traditional baby colours, with playful colour combinations and designs.
What was your motivation?
I was inspired to establish a new baby textile label after having my first child and struggling to find anything other than pastel pinks & blues. I love strong colours, especially for babies. I ended up ordering a blanket from Australia, but the quality was so poor. That’s when the kiki moon seeds were sown. I had such a strong vision of what I wanted; it had to be soft and safe next to baby’s skin, with breath-taking colour combinations. It had to be packaged in something exquisite. I wanted to create something truly magical to celebrate little babies coming into the world.
What is your background?
My background is mainly in business, I have a degree in Business Studies from Sligo IT. As a child and teen, I was always setting up mini enterprises and always knew this is something I would do. I also had a great passion for interiors and went back to night school and completed a diploma in Interior Design, with Dublin Institute of Design. It was pretty much during this course that I realised this was an area I wanted to pursue. I love business so it’s a great fit for me to be able to combine my two passions. My previous job before setting up kiki moon was with NFTE, an entrepreneurship programme for young people, run by Foróige. It was a great job and I loved helping young people in developing new business ideas and taking those ideas and turning them into actual businesses with the help of expert mentors. Perhaps being in this environment of creativity spurred me on to develop my own business. It did reach a point however where I realised I no longer wanted to work for someone else, I wanted to be in control of my own future and pave my own path.
What have been the highs and lows of setting up your own business?
The biggest challenge was having a newborn and a new business. The business launched in 2015 but I had been working on it full time a year before it launched. With a product based business, so much work goes into pre-launch phase. During this crazy time, I found out I was pregnant with my second baby! I really questioned myself if I could continue with the business and have a newborn, but I had gone so far and brought the product to market stage, I couldn’t just stop. So I didn’t. I’m sure a lot of people thought I was pretty crazy but that’s just the way it worked for me. I really think there is no perfect time to have a baby or launch a business.
There have been so many highs, receiving the first samples from my Portuguese manufacturers, that’s an incredible experience, seeing your own sketches come to life for the first time was exhilarating. Meeting customers face to face at different trade shows and hearing their positive feedback.
Winning eumom Business Parent of the Year was a stand-out high and one I’ll never forget!
What advice would you give other moms wanting to start up their own business?
I would say go for it. New moms/dads are so creative, we’re surrounded by problems that need to be solved all the time and that is the basis for a successful product/service. If you have an idea, research it, talk to friends, hold focus groups, check your costings, research the competition. Talk to the enterprise boards, find a mentor, don’t be put off by anyone. If you have done your research and you know it can work then just go for it. It will be hard with young children but it can be done, if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, this will override the difficult times.
Do you have any tips for balancing your work and family life?
It’s quite difficult balancing home and work life, especially with a newborn. Obviously, the baby takes priority but back then when she napped I worked. I also had a lovely lady who came to the house a few days a week which helped. A year on, things are easier and I have a more structured system in place. I have set working hours during the day while the kids are with the childminder/in Montessori. I work late at night and some mornings get up early to get a few hours done before they wake. Apparently, it’s called the golden hour, there are no interruptions and I get lots done. I always try and have Sundays free of any work and I mostly stick to it (bar the odd social media posting!). It’s important to switch your mind off from work for a whole day, it leaves me refreshed and raring to go on Mondays.
What would you say is your next step for 2017?
2017 will be a busy year. We have just opened up our wholesale business of kiki moon and will be stocked in selected stores over the coming months. We will continue to sell via our website www.lovekikimoon.com and want to grow awareness internationally of our brand. I hope this year to bring out some more products and have been working on new designs.
If you were to be granted three wishes for your business what would they be?
- To continue creating beautiful high-quality products that customers fall in love with & look at a new design and new product offerings.
- To grow the team and take some of the pressure off me. While it’s important to know every aspect of your own business, if we are to scale up we need to grow our team.
- For kiki moon to be a household name not just in Ireland but internationally and to be known for being a beautiful, high-quality, innovative & fun brand.
On meeting Keelin, we have no doubts these three wishes will come true!