Small Business Interview West of Ireland – Earthwise – Jackie Queally
Last week I interviewed Philip Gleeson from Quickest Fox Marketing, and this week I am excited to share the interview with Jackie Queally from Earthwise. I would recommend you listen to her talk about the Burren, and lot’s of interesting aspects of the Burrenlowlands.
Please share this interview, as I’d like to start a small movement to highlight the brilliant businesses in the West of Ireland!
Tell us a bit about yourself & where you are located in the West of Ireland.
My father is from the coast, close to Lahinch (Moy), and I moved over from Scotland where I lived for about 20 years to be nearer him. He is an elderly widow now. I used to run a very successful small tour company in Scotland that took people to ancient sites – anything from prehistoric to the Middle Ages. It included a lot of Templar places and I also wrote specialist guides, including two to the world-famous chapel Rosslyn just south of Edinburgh. I used to run workshops there too. I have always been involved on teaching adults and healing/therapies.
Can you provide me with a description of your business?
I adapted the knowledge I had used in Scotland as there is some overlap, to create local Irish tours that take people to hidden spots in nature. There we learn to dowse (divining energy lines and water lines), and also experience sound healing, using drums, gongs and voice. It helps people become more present. Most of us need to be more in the moment. These are slow tours as opposed to the speedy ones you can easily find that go to busy tourist spots.
I have written three books on the Burren in the last three years, and in the seven years since I came to Ireland I have written two other spiritual books too (nature photography with my poems and ley lines). Another aspect is the workshops I run along pilgrimage routes I create, using mindfulness techniques, sound healing and dowsing. Dowsing has many applications. You can learn to dowse for healing, or for making decisions. People find it very interesting.
How long have you been in business? In this business? In other businesses?
I started this business in what I call sacred geography in 1999. I’ve been running local and all-Ireland tours as a guide since 2013. However I’ve also trained in sound healing, sonic acupuncture, naturopathic deep massage, tuning fork balancing therapy and gong healing. So I like to incorporate sound into my tours and also workshops. For instance I gave a group a sound healing participatory workshop recently. These were MS sufferers who loved it. I also do one-one sessions with the tuning forks and instruments. Clients find it is a very effective form of therapy. I used to teach reflexology and was a spiritual healer before I started the tours in 1999.
I give talks on many subjects, including the Burren landscape from a more spiritual perspective. This year I am giving a wide range of workshops and talks in Nova Scotia! I gave two talks recently in England too, one of them on the Burren’s mystical landscape.
How did you get started in this business?
That’s a fun question. In Edinburgh an elderly friend who since has died asked me to research the Picts and the Celts – after writing for six months we decided to offer day tours based on emerging local sites we discovered. I studied human ecology when young and I felt the early Celtic saints embodied the qualities we were advocating for human survival in the future!
Is this your full time job, a hobby or a bit of both?
I would say the talks and workshops are a hobby that pays. The tours pay more but are sporadic depending on when the discerning tourist is here. My aim is to do more tours this year so it becomes more lucrative. I was selling my books at Kinvara market last summer but that was to entice people to come on my unique tours. Unfortunately the market is held on a Friday when often people are returning to where they came from the following day.
Really I am combining various interests (healing, sounds, writing, trave)l into one overall business. The connecting theme is a deep appreciation of our earth as a living entity -so I changed the business name to Earthwise to encompass all that. I am also diversifying into Waterwise with a highly experienced engineer so we can educate people about the ways in which they can purify and enliven their water, as water is not in a good state often these days. Most diseases including cancer derive from the unsavoury water we drink. There is much that could be done using little money to improve our domestic water. We are not just looking at what is killed off in the water, but what healthy elements the water can contain. So many of the current products on the market are expensive and not so good for the water ultimately.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
I love giving talks and my first one was when someone asked me to talk on the Celtic trees at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1999. I took people through the nature reserve in Holyrood Park and we visited each of the tree types. It’s been a theme I continued. Walking and talking and listening to nature.
How do the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environments impact your business?
I arrived at the time the recession was starting up, intending to take a sabbatical from the tours. Socially there has been and still is a lot of social changes occurring. People in rural Ireland seem to have surplus money to spend on things that are considered luxury items. That is why I am concentrating my writing and talks on the international market more. Tours and workshops are still aimed of course at the local market, but probably more toward Dublin. I also am starting to work with the corporate market but that is slow to take hold, offering them eco-wellness tours on electric bikes for instance. Generally things are slow here as there is not a captive audience like you have in a large tourist city such as Edinburgh where I used to live.
I would not invest in my own transport again as local companies warned me they tried and failed even during the boom times.
Environmentally the lack of access to places can be off-putting. I was used to the right-to-roam in Scotland. However there are places where farmers are very congenial and that helps. Also we don’t walk too far. I remember visiting Holy Island with a group on a sunny Sunday and we had the place to ourselves last Autumn. I prefer to pick a few places and take our time soaking in its atmosphere and interacting with the place more. It’s important to do this.
I find Senator Lorraine Higgins in Loughrea a hard-working local politician who really wants to help her constituents find rewarding work that will keep them here.
Do you know who your competitors are?
I am unique. I do try to help people in businesses that are related if they are starting out and need advice – and for more established businesses or individuals they sometimes ask me for help from a specialist knowledge base.
How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business? Where can people find you? Website, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, Pinterest, etc. Please provide details.
www.earthwise.me is the amalgamation of two previous sites.
FB: Natural-Healing-Energies (Natural Healing Energies)
FB Burrenspirit (Spirit of Burren Tours / Creative Ireland)
FB earthwise books (Earthwise Publications)
FB earthwiseconnect (Earthwise)
CelticTrails (Celtic Trails)
Youtube: Jackie Queally
Pinterest: Earthwise Ireland
Linked In – Jackie Queally Dedicated to being Earthwise
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
I hope to write a few more books that will be more international in flavour. These will sell more than local topics do. I also would love the waterwise business to take off as I passionately believe in its aims. Since I hope to travel more in the next ten years I have no long term plans for the business. The beauty of what I do is I can live elsewhere and continue my research. I have enjoyed the last seven years here. It’s a quiet and easy-going place to dream and create in.
Do you plan to compete in the global market place? If yes, how? If no, why not?
My customers have always been global for books and tours and talks. I have no plans to expand as I am based here for now due to my father being here. Neither does my kind of work lead to expansion as the product really is myself in various forms! The waterwise business is different- we would need to employ others if it expands.
How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business?
I am not finding Facebook so easy to get actual customers through the door. It is time-consuming. I have heard that other media may be better. It is a full time job and I can’t afford to employ someone to do it… yet!
What do you love about the area you live in/do business in?
Every day is different according to who gets in touch and for what reason. It is demand-led to some extent you see. For instance, since beginning this article an international artist asked me to create an audio meditation for her jewellry website. I obliged with an Imbolc meditation created at a secret site that ties in with Brigit.
Whom do you seek advice from for your business/ do you meet up with other business owners? If so, where?
I use various meet ups in Galway for networking, occasional training from Galway Rural Development, and Enterprise Ireland in Ennis and Galway, and the local Bank of Ireland manager Damien Gardiner holds local business days. He also lets you have a stand in his bank on Friday mornings if you book it. I also meet tour business owners from around Dublin once a year.
Can you describe your customers?
Genuine, loving, intelligent, resourceful, and varied.
Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
Reputation and especially the book Spirit of the Burren
What are the biggest challenges for running this business?
All the admin and time spent on computer. It is hard to eat and exercise properly but one has to. This means the days are full just keeping it all going!
I also like to visit friends and family who live away from time to time and that can break the rhythm of the days.
What keeps you going, when the chips are down?
As a preventative to this occuring: Meditation – right now I am qualifying in mindfulness but have taught synergy meditation for 10 years and also Gaia Touch. If down, a hot bath, a walk or reading a good book, that inspires me with its spiritual knowledge. Also gardening and baking when I have the opportunity. I like mushroom foraging and seaweed foraging too.
Do you support local charities? If so which is your favourite charity and why?
I recently supported a local woman who created and then organised a supply of rocket stoves for refugees in the awful conditions at the camp in Calais. (https://www.gofundme.com/stoves4calais) Also Vincent De Paul here. I dislike extreme poverty and pity those who are searching for a better quality of life and are trapped at a young age due to political or social barriers to success.
Any special things planned for 2016?
Yes I met with a UN official in Gort recently as the creator worldwide of the geoparks wants their artist for peace Marko Pogacnik to start workshops in each of them, starting with the Burren geopark. Since I worked with Marko last Spring in Derry he invited me again to work with him again on this project. He is coming to the Burren as his first port of call and I am running some workshops to introduce people to his Gaia Touch exercises. The first one is on Saturday 27h February from 10am til 1pm and people must book through me at firstname.lastname@example.org. These exercises help people work with the multi-dimensionality of the land as a way of helping the earth cope too with the many changes it is undergoing right now. Marko is well known internationally and this is an honour for me to help him. Also I am very excited about my work trip to Nova Scotia that is so connected to my old work in Scotland too.
Any tips for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Follow your heart and don’t worry too much. Be prepared to work long hours though. If you have family demands too it is hard as the admin has increased so much compared to even the 90s so you need support in other areas of life to counteract the tedium of the emails etc.
What did you learn from this interview?
My life is busier than I thought, though I don’t do any one thing all the time and only do one thing at a time. I have a lot to be grateful for. Because I love what I do I don’t consider it a drain on my time.
Just a quick reminder, Please share this interview, as I’d like to start a small movement to highlight the brilliant businesses in the West of Ireland!
Have a great evening,