|Asked how she got involved in the design sector, Tricia Harris says she was always interested in creating things; "even as a kid I was constantly building and making stuff."
After graduating from The Furniture College in Letterfrack in 2005, Tricia worked in various short term roles within the furniture industry before going down a route she hadn't planned - teaching.
Lecturing part-time allowed Tricia to build on her own portfolio of work and during the summer of 2012, she felt it was time to take the leap and start the process of setting up her own furniture design business - Tricia Harris Designs.
Her furniture range has focused a lot on cabinets and boxes in the last couple of years. "I think I like the intricacy of them and the way a simple cabinet can be transformed into something beautiful while still serving its function as a storage unit," says Tricia.
As part of Irish Design 2015, Tricia was selected for CREATE 2015 at Brown Thomas (#BTCREATE), a special installation celebrating the best in Irish design and craft, which ran in store in 2015. She also exhibited with the Design Island group in the Niland Gallery in Galway in a collective exhibition entitled: ‘Irish Design Works’.
According to Tricia, the biggest challenge she faced as a sole trader was managing all the various aspects of the business, especially at start up stage."You realise that when you set up your own design business, the time available for design is nowhere near what you would like!
There are so many elements required to run a successful business that you just have to get used to wearing different hats all the time!" she says. For help getting her business off the ground, Tricia turned to her Local Enterprise Office, and subsequently received a priming grant which allowed her to invest in the production set up for the 'Swirl drinks cabinet' and get the first batch produced.
Tricia says, "Along with accessing funding from LEO Dublin City, I was assigned a mentor and the advice I gained was extremely valuable. This helped me immensely by getting me to really investigate the market potential of my business, setting business goals, and other really helpful strategies that a start-up should undertake."She has some great advice for other entrepreneurs starting off, and for those thinking about getting into the Irish design sector.
"I would definitely recommend becoming part of a collective space / creative hub". Tricia rents a studio space in Chocolate Factory Dublin on Dublin's Kings Inns St. "It’s great to have an individual studio space while at the same time benefitting from the social interaction and collaborative opportunities that come with being part of a group".
"Another piece of advice would be to explore the supports that are available to start-ups - there is great assistance out there!" Even the process of applying for funding, helps you focus on creating a proper business plan and to think about your business idea in a realistic and practical way".
"As a sole trader, you don’t need to do it alone! Go to talks, advice days, meet like-minded business people, and make the most of the opportunities available".