Barbara Lynch of Four Sisters
Four sisters: Annie, Orla, Sinead and Aoife
A significant birthday, inspirational clients and lockdown were all the encouragement Donegal's Barbara Lynch from Muff in Inishowen needed to launch her online gifts and homewares business, Four Sisters, in October 2021.
Speaking to Inish Live, Barbara, whose mum and dad are Veronica and Gerry McLaughlin from the village, said she also keeps it local by offering a click and collect service from Harkin's Shop in Muff.
Barbara said: “I also do a pop-up shop in the Mullan Hope Centre in Moville every month. I am also going to be at the Carndonagh Show this year and I am planning a couple of pop-ups in Northern Ireland this summer, in Lisburn and Ballymena.
“The idea behind Four Sisters is convenience. It is really a one stop shop for that gift you might need for a birthday or a present for a new baby.
“I am hand-picking everything myself and I am trying to carry things are that wee bit unique or different, as well as colourful, and affordable, just things you might not necessarily get in high street gift shops. I am constantly trying to find quirky items that would be nice for gifts or for yourself.
“The name Four Sisters came from the fact I have four daughters: Annie (8), Orla (7), Sinead (5) and Aoife (3).
“I spent weeks trying to come up with a name that had some kind of meaning to do with them.
“Eventually my husband said, they are four sisters, just call it Four Sisters, so I did. The name is simple and it will grow with them. It is personal to me. They quite enjoy being associated with it too.
“Before this, my career had always been in business banking. I worked for Ulster Bank for over 10 years managing the finance needs of other businesses. I was just spurred on by my clients.
“I always loved those customer meetings where they were talking about their own businesses. You could just see the pride, the determination and the drive they had. I always had it in my head that would love to do something similar for myself. But the time never felt right.”
Having lived in Dublin, Barbara and her husband relocated back to Muff six years ago.
She explained: “With lockdown and everything, I just saw such a dramatic change in consumer spending.
“Before that, my parents, who are in their 70s, would never ever have shopped online, but they had to because of covid.
“Even some my friends that would have been, 'No I don't like shopping online. I like to touch products and feel them and see them'. They had to change their habits as well. And, with so many local courier companies operating, it just became quicker to get stock. Being in proximity to Northern Ireland means I can get a good range of stuff from the UK, although it is important to me to try and market as many Irish products as I can.
“Customers can see my range online at: www.foursisters.ie, although, I am doing most of my marketing through Instagram (@foursisters.ie). Every Friday, I show the actual products and give a little information about them. I have loads of people asking questions through the chat section.
“Instagram has been a really good way of getting my name out there. But, nothing beats word of mouth. I think Donegal people are just great at spreading the word,” laughed Barbara, “Sometimes I'll find I have the parent of one of the girls in my daughters' class texting to say, 'I need a candle can you bring one down with you to the pick up?'
Barbara said she is all about convenience.
She explained: “I have the four girls and it is hard to get everyone into the car to go and buy a gift.
“That is where the idea for Four Sisters came from, trying to establish something convenient and seeing where it goes. Thankfully, the business has really taken off, which is brilliant. I can't believe it is nearly seven months already but it is going really well but I am flat out at the minute.
“Click and collect is very handy too because there is always somebody driving through Muff. I have had customers in Letterkenny but they always know someone who is coming through Muff.
“I am also hoping to expand my click and collect service to Moville, because my husband is the principal in Greencastle. Convenience and a one stop shop for your gift needs, is definitely my business motto,”
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