Irish Women In Business: Sophia McHugh Of Online Marketplace 'Traffic Attic' 6 years ago

Irish Women In Business: Sophia McHugh Of Online Marketplace 'Traffic Attic'

After falling for a dress during her holidays in an Irish town and becoming frustrated at the inability to buy it online, Sophia McHugh from Mayo decided to set up her own business.

TrafficAttic.com is the brainchild of Sophia and Brendan McHugh and is an innovative online marketplace that helps to bring local businesses to customers all over the world.

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The site allows people to shop local while online and now hosts 130 businesses.


How did you originally get into your current sector?

I had a love for art and technology in school and then went on to third level to study Graphic Design. During this time in college, I had the opportunity to undertake a digital media internship in San Francisco and this heightened my passion for design and technology.

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After college, I was hired by a local web design company in Castlebar. In this role, I designed and developed websites from start to finish, which led me on to my current business.

Why did you decide to set up your own company?

I spent 12 years working in the private sector but always wanted more independence and to work for myself. Entrepreneurship runs deep in our family so I was brought up in this environment

Like every woman, I love to shop! Time is a big issue for everyone, which is why we turn to shopping online from the comfort of our couch in the evening. With this love for shopping and my first love for all things design and online, we came up with the idea of combining these to create a business that would never feel like a job!

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What were your goals when you set up your business?

My goal was to bring the local businesses in every small town and village in Ireland online so that they can show the world (or even neighbouring county) what they have to offer!

I was amazed one time when I visited the beautiful town of Ennis in Co. Clare and browsed through local boutiques. I had tried on a dress and loved it but decided in the end not to purchase. As soon as my holiday was over, I regretted not buying it and went online only to realise they did not sell on the web!

I also wanted to create a business that would increase employment within Trafficattic.com and sustain jobs within the shops that sell through our marketplace.

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Lastly, to create a hugely successful online marketplace within Ireland with the intention to replicate this model in other countries around the world and increase the awareness of shopping local online - wherever local is to anyone!

What sets your company apart from its competitors?

Our passion for our local indigineous companies throughout Ireland. They are the backbone of our country and we pride ourselves in promoting and supporting them through our marketplace.

We only accept Irish businesses to sell online, with affordable pricing, and our customer service is second to none.

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What are the biggest challenges that you have faced?

Helping the businesses realise that online shopping is not the enemy, it is the future!  Shopping, like everything else, has progressed! Businesses need to evolve in order to compete and survive.

It’s also a challenge to reach our target audience due to the busy market we are competing in.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Launching our business in April 2014 was an exciting but apprehensive time! Other very memorable moments have been the two big features in The Sunday Times and The Sunday Business Post.

What is your favourite/least favourite part of your job?

My favourite is working in the sector that I love, being my own boss and the flexible working hours.

My least favourite is that it is very difficult to have time away from the business. It is, and has been for the past year, 24/7.  There is always a laptop or mobile device within arms reach to sneakily check the social media websites or emails! The world is too accessible!

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Do you think that women face additional challenges in business or has this ever been an issue for you?

Absolutely not! I have witnessed nothing but opportunity for women in business. Ireland is a fantastic country to be in business as a woman!  There are so many supports for women in business and so much recognition given to them for their achievements.

Throughout the last year, attending different events around the country through Enterprise Ireland, Google and many other event organisers, I have witnessed so many hugely successful women in business, which is very encouraging to see and makes it possible for any woman to aspire to this!

 

What do you hope to achieve with your career in the future?

I hope to build a business which is hugely successful firstly in Ireland and then worldwide

I would like to see myself giving something back (similar to what I received) in the form of mentoring start-up companies, guiding them through their challenges and seeking opportunities.

What piece of advice would you give to someone hoping to follow in a similar career path?

The first step is definitely to visit your Local Enterprise Office. You may think you are not ready but really this is the first step! I also took part in a Graduate Entrepreneur Course with the GMIT Innovation Hub, which I found hugely beneficial for the early days of starting up a business!

And lastly, just go for it! There will never be a right time to get started!

For more information, check out www.Trafficattic.com and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.