First of all, welcome to my blog!!
I am delighted you have found my blog, and that you are taking your time to read some of my blog posts. My name is Katleen, and I am based in East Galway, in the townland of Peterswell. I moved to Dublin in 1993 from Belgium for love and adventure and found both:)
I met my husband the year after I moved to Dublin, we lived in Dublin for a while and then ended up in Galway. We lived in Oughterard( also referred to as the Gateway to Connemara), then moved to Clarinbridge, and for the last 10 years, we have been living in Peterswell.
One of the reasons we choose Peterswell was because it’s located halfway between Ennis and Galway. At the time I was working in Galway and David was teaching in Ennis Co. Clare, so it was a good choice. Fast forward and 2 children later, I am now working for SmartBear and David is still teaching in Ennis.
I started this blog in 2009 ( actually I had another HTML blog that I created in 1998 but that got hacked!) to provide resources for people that wish to move to Ireland . When I moved to Ireland it was very difficult to find a job, and I hope to give you some links to various websites, recruitment agencies and governmental agencies that may be helpful in your job search and some insights I have acquired over the years.
I have worked in a variety of companies, some of them start-ups, others long established companies, and there was a time that I wanted to explore the options to be self employed. Both my parents were self-employed at some point, so I guess that’s where I got my entrepreneurial spirit.. I took the opportunity to avail of voluntarily redundancy after the birth of our second son Alex in 2006, and furiously started to think what I could do, being self employed. An online shop was something that I had in mind. Around that time David suffered terrible back trouble and one way of easing that pain was by applying a heated cherry stone pillow. I hadn’t really seen these pillows here before, so I did some research, and found out that the pillow we had was actually made by a company in ….Belgium.I contacted the manufacturer, as I thought it would be a good product to sell on-line. He was very happy to supply the pillows at trade prices, however once I did some calculations, the shipping charges would be so high, I really wouldn’t make a profit. As the supplier did not have a distributor in Ireland, I said that I wouldn’t mind trying it, so I ordered a pallet of Cherry Stone Pillows. I started selling them to local shops, chemists, nursery shops and also gift shops. I then got introduced to another Belgian company who sold a children’s range designed by a school teacher, and soon I was carrying a number of ranges. I named the company Belgian Treasures. Every time I mentioned the name, people thought I was selling chocolates or beer, so it also made me realize that choosing a company name is quite important, as people have their own associations with a name. Through a gift I received of Baby shoes for Alex when he was 6 months old, I got in contact with a company in New Zealand. The shoes became my bestest selling product, and gave me the opportunity to take parts in trade shows in Dublin and Manchester, meet other entrepreneurs in Europe that were selling the shoes too, and towards the end of my business, I appeared on Ireland AM.
Yes, I am proud I did that! I changed the company name to Ecotreasures, as it reflected the products I was carrying better. It (unfortunately) did not make a difference. I tried to keep the business afloat, but the recession had hit hard ( I was supplying 35 shops – only 10 are still open now) and by 2010, I had to make the hard choice to pull the plug, and find a job. The job situation had changed significantly. During the Celtic tiger, it was relatively easy to find a job, and I would often do an interview, and by the time I walked out, I was offered the job. In 2010 it didn’t seem to matter how many languages you spoke, how much experience you had ( or not), getting a job was a struggle, and it was a game of survival of the fittest. Around that time there was a huge wave of people immigrating due to lack of opportunities. I did several interviews, and it was around that time I really thought of moving back to Belgium as I really wanted to work! I eventually did get a job in a call center in Shannon where I earned the minimum wage. The kids were 4 and 6 at the time, and between the travel expense and child care costs, I had nothing left to “spend”, but looking back it was the bestest thing I ever could have done. It eased me back in the workforce, got up to speed on technology again, and worked with great colleagues, which was probably the most important aspect, a bit of social interaction. After about a year, I was contacted via Linkedin by an ex boss who is based in the US, and he wanted to find out if I knew someone who could provide technical support in Ireland. The role would be home based. It sounded like a plan, and I haven’t looked back since! I started in March 2011, and haven’t worked in an office since:). Actually, little update, I am working in Galway City now for SmartBear.
So now that you have read my(abbreviated) story, what’s next?
I am still fascinated by business, and although I am no longer “in” business, there are many things I have learnt, and I hope I can help some businesses to formulate their marketing plan, or show them channels that they can use to promote their business. I live in a beautiful area, and love going onto trips, so those are also covered on the blog. I’ll be featuring some local businesses on the blog, and I also know a thing or two about E-Commerce, customer satisfaction and negotiations and oh yes, I speak a Dutch, French, German and of course English. I run my own facebook group called workinglivingtravellinginireland( come and say hello) and I am also one of the admins at a large group of Belgians abroad, called Belgen in het Buitenland. I am a big supporter of Bumbleance, and grew 240 hyacinths to raise much needed funds.
Thanks for your visit!