Introducing – www.Cherishme.ie
Zarah Hartung introduces us to her online baby store www.Cherishme.ie
Company: Cherish Me
Founder: Zarah Hartung
Staff Number: 2 (Full time) 1 (Part time)
Date started: October 2010
Tell us what your business does:
Cherish me is an online baby store that offers a wide range of Organic , natural and unique baby products that have been sourced from all over the world. We pride ourselves in bringing new and innovate products to Ireland many of which come from as far away as Australia and Los Angeles.
We also have a wonderful gift selection that offers that personal touch by offering our customers bespoke gift hampers made to order, as well as the fact that all of our single line products come with the option of a free and professional gift wrapping service ! We have also just recently launched in Germany with www.cherishme.de and we plan to expand this to bring more unique product to the German market late in the year.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
While pregnant with my second child, I found it extremely difficult to find the time to look around the shops searching for high quality baby products. In addition to this, during that year I found myself and many of my friends and family were all expecting babies and I wanted something different but couldn’t find really unique baby gifts and products that were not only natural and eco friendly but high quality too and this highlighted a potential gap in the market, not only for supplying such products but also using an online platform to offer total convenience with next day delivery for the customer. Having a baby is one of the most amazing times in anyone’s life and every moment is so precious and special and should be cherished and hence the name Cherish Me came to be.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
It was something I had thought about for years but didn’t know what I would like to do, but after years in sales and management I came to a point where I couldn’t grow any further and after having my two kids my whole outlook on life changed too and it inspired me to set up my own baby business.
What planning did you put in place before you started?
I spent months researching the market and sourcing my products. I worked out a very detailed business plan outlining how I was going to make this business work and offer customers a wonderful shopping experience. I also approached my local enterprise board for assistance and availed of their mentoring and training which was a huge support.
Which Entrepreneurs do you admire?
I really admire my late father Claude Davidson who was an amazing entrepreneur, a very talented artist and inventor. Back in the 90’s he set up Ireland’s first ever interactive science exhibition called Scientazia, amongst other things. He was such an inspiration to me over the years and he showed me that if you are passionate about what you do and put your heart and soul into it, it will pay off.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
My main challenge was cash flow, I had no capital to get started but thankfully my local credit union gave me a small loan to get my business off the ground.
How have you promoted your business?
I have used many avenues to promote the business in the most cost effective way, such as doing my own press releases, building a great relationship with corporate companies and people in the medical profession to promote the brand. I was delighted to be a finalist in the Infant and maternity awards last year which also gave us huge coverage. I have recently had graphics put on my car to advertise my business on a daily basis as well. I have built up a great relationship with all my customers and hence a lot of by business comes through word of mouth as well as building a great twitter and facebook following.
Are you optimistic about the remainder of 2012?
I am very excited to see what the next 6 months will bring, It’s been a real struggle so far with lots of hard work, long nights and lots of sacrifices but it’s really starting to pay off now in terms of growth in sales month after month. We also have a number of high profile national advertising campaigns on the way very shortly which will hopefully bring lots of brand awareness around the country and increase sales as we move into export market later this year. We are also looking forward to opening our new showroom to the public in the next few weeks where people can come down and view our products and purchase there and then, or to simply collect purchases made online!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
I would always recommend before you start your business to sit down and do a detailed business plan to see is it viable and how will you make it work. Do plenty of research and get as much advice as possible. Approach the Enterprise board for mentoring and join lots of networking groups as it’s great to get good advice and support along the way. Be prepared to put in long hours to build your business but it’s important to have a switch off time too.