Irish Women in Business - Brazilian Food Lover Emma O'Rourke
For the latest in our series of features focusing on Irish Women in Business, we’re talking to Emma O’Rourke, owner of Cheesín, based in Dublin 11.
Here, 22-year-old Journalism graduate from DCU, Emma talks to Her.ie about starting up a business with the support of her boyfriend Richard and how the last few months have been.
When did you establish the business?
The business was set up four months ago when Richard and I came back from Brazil. I had been living over there for a number of months.
What was the inspiration behind it?
While I was there, I ended up eating so much 'pao de queijo' (Brazilian cheese bread) in Brazil and I realized this didn't exist in Ireland so if I wanted to eat it I would have to create it!
Also, I had been working for myself over there teaching English and I realized that I wanted to work for myself when I came back to Ireland, so it all kind of started from there. A Brazilian man in Denmark has a huge business going selling this cheese bread so he was a great inspiration.
Have you always had an interest in this area?
When I arrived in Brazil, I started to notice certain things like salt and vinegar crisps do not exist over there (devastated!) and I thought about trying to bring the flavour to Brazil and that was in my head for a while.
Then when I knew I was going back home, I started to think of things that I could invent in Ireland and it had to be something food related as the food was so delicious there.
Where did the name come from?
The name Cheesín came one day when I was jotting down lots of potential names. We were adamant to keep the brand name Irish as we want people to know it is an Irish product. (Also 'ín' added onto a word in Irish means something small).
What is your aim for the business?
The aim of the company is to let everyone in Ireland try this very tasty, and naturally gluten free, snack that they would otherwise never get to taste unless they went to Brazil.
It is something different instead of eating croissants and scones! Our slogan is "Don't change your routine, just add a cheesín."
Did you ever expect that this idea would turn into a successful business?
Seeing how well our Brazilian friend in Denmark was doing and also a couple in America was good motivation. Lots of time has gone into this, we were both working full time and doing this in the evenings to try and get it off the ground.
It has been really difficult trying to keep everything going so there was enough money to buy equipment and ingredients. Now, the business is at the stage where I can focus on that.
What do you think makes your business unique?
It is naturally gluten free which appeals to a lot of people but also, there is nothing like this food in Ireland - it is completely different.
What is a normal working day for you (does it even exist)?
A normal day doesn't feel like a working day- you have nobody watching over you but you know what you need to do for the day. Either you're making the cheesíns or packaging them or sending emails to meet prospective customers. It’s very busy.
What has been the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was taking the first step. After that, it was just a continuation of what had already been planted.
What has been your best moment to date?
We are a new business so the best moment so far was delivering our first order of 7kg and receiving the payment for something you had the idea for!
What is the best thing about the work you do?
Receiving orders knowing that people are interested in your product! Also working for myself has to be one of the best things!
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
If you try to tell other people about your idea and they don't sound so enthusiastic, don't lose faith. Talk to someone like-minded or someone who has experience in business. They are the type people you need to surround yourself with.
What comes next for you as a businesswoman?
In the near future I hope to have cheesíns available, not just in restaurants but also in stores around Ireland and build the brand up. It's all a learning curve - but it's great fun!
For more information on Cheesín you can check out their website www.cheesin.ie.