From college business to successful entrepreneur, we chat with Emma Hanley about building an online business
Emma is the Founder of Irish, family-run company Robes4you.
Before setting up Robes4you I was studying Business Management in DIT. During the course, I needed to work part time to earn some money. It was then I had the idea for Robes4You. I thought it would be great to set up my own company selling personalised wedding robes instead of perhaps working in a bar or restaurant. My idea paid off, I studied for two more years and left DIT in my third year when the business started to take off and we had to hire our first employee.
We knew we could do personalised wedding robes, only better
My granny at the time had dementia, and at the weekends my family would all take turns in minding her. Going to the shows in the RDS was one of her favourite weekend adventures and she loved the wedding show! So I took her to the wedding show and that is where we saw the idea. There were other businesses doing personalised bridal robes, but I thought Robes4You could do it better. Luckily, my dad was on hand to help me set up the website. He introduced me to the web developer his company used and we found a local wholesaler that sold robes and we went from there.
From then on, the company went from strength to strength and my amazing mom came onboard to support me. She is my best friend and we have an amazing relationship. She is in charge of stock and she loves the operations side of things, which she is very good at as she worked in operations for the Golden Pages. I am in charge of the sales, advertising and customer care. My dad also played a huge role in getting us up and going. With his level of experience, and knowledge of the industry, we could not have done it without him.
Our level of service and quality ensures customers return
The majority of our products are manufactured and designed by us so we know the products we are selling are of extremely high quality as that is what we want: personalised, high quality robes. We also like to ensure all our customers get excellent service because that is what keeps our them coming back and enables our business to grow.
Shop local and shop Irish
As the start of the first lockdown in March 2020, we initially didn’t know what to think. We had to close like every other business, but we didn’t feel under too much pressure. We had a very successful Christmas, which meant we were sold out of the majority of our stock and because of market conditions we experienced delays in our new stock coming in. I must admit, it was an uncertain time as we weren’t sure what was going to happen. As soon as shop local and shop Irish launched, we started getting orders even though we were closed and we were out of stock. The level of support we received from everyone shopping Irish was unbelievable.
We were so grateful for everyone who has shopped with us during this time and kept us going. We also have an amazing team behind us and we would not have been able to grow and expand the way we did over the past year without them. Robes4You’s ambition is to keep growing each year and bring out more products lines. Our dream one day is to be a well-known brand across the UK and Europe.