Clonakilty is the place to be this summer.
It was always charming, of course, with lovely laneways to flip-flop around after the beach, cracking music venues including De Barra’s, not forgetting one of the sexiest SuperValu’s in the country.
But with brand new bar Craft & Co slinging pints and tacos and concept store Revel bringing the coffee and fancy cake, there’s a fresh buzz about the place that’s hard to ignore.
Just ask Sean and Meg Treacy, who upped sticks from Dublin and headed for the Clon coast during the pandemic and now run their shop Hunter & Bloom on Ashe Street.
Sean graduated from DCU in 2012 with a business degree, worked in finance for a couple of years then moved into sales and marketing, slowly building Hunter Treacy, his luxury tailors, as a side business for over four years before taking a leap of faith and going full-time in 2021.
Meanwhile, Meg, a psychiatric nurse, was finding her work was starting to take its toll. Having started upcycling furniture, she expanded into dried floral arrangements and homeware, she took the plunge and turned a creative hobby into a full-time gig.
Now enjoying the year-round influx of tourists and locals exploring Clonakilty’s charming streets, pubs and shops, their lifestyle, interiors and menswear store Hunter & Bloom is yet another stop on the trail.
Here, Sean shares how they’re working it:
We moved to West Cork from Dublin in the middle of the pandemic. My wife and I were both running different online businesses, we love Clonakilty as it has a great buzz to it and thought it would be the best town to try and bring our online stores offline and into a traditional bricks-and-mortar shop together. We did a pop-up before Christmas that went really well so we decided to take a punt and keep the shop going.
We funded the business on a credit card with a €2000 limit and have steadily built up from there. Every day throws up some kind of challenge. From learning to build websites ourselves to finding factories in Italy that would work with us for our tailoring or sustainable suppliers for our floral arrangements, nothing is ever straightforward or easy but we always figure it out. Building everything ourselves from the ground up with no investment and just doing our own thing, living the lives we want to, makes us very proud.
We never stop making mistakes. As cliché as it sounds, once you learn from them for the next time, then it’s all good. We wasted a lot of money on bad suppliers and influencers but it’s all learning. Getting pricing right is always tricky too – especially at the minute, things are crazy. Don’t get us started about the courier companies!
Word of mouth is big for us and customer referrals are really important for trust in a business.
Someone once told Sean that ‘life isn’t a dress rehearsal, this is your one shot at it’. That resonates with us on a daily basis, to spend each day doing what makes us happy. It’s so true that if you’re not following your own dream, you’re working for someone following theirs. Focus on something you enjoy, eventually, you’ll get good enough at it to make a living from it.
The three things in our working week we love doing are designing suits with customers, arranging wedding bouquets, and having the chats in the shop with the many interesting people living in and passing through West Cork.
Our advice to another wannabe entrepreneur in our industry would be to stick with it, ‘overnight’ success stories tend to take 10 years to get to that point. Take everything you see on social media with a pinch of salt, most of it’s fabricated and just not a true picture of life. There is no substitution for hard work, graft, and networking. Be honest, and authentic, don’t get ahead of yourself, and never look down on anyone else.
There’s definitely value in networking locally. Especially with our Made to Measure suits and floral arrangements; what we do is quite unique so it takes more time for people to find us themselves, networking is key and so important for any business. As Bono said… Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own.
We switch off with a bit of sea swimming, running, gym, reading and walking. We love going out for dinner, having friends over and Netflix too.
We’re going to keep building Hunter & Bloom slowly and see how things go. We’re nearly finished our website, which will be great and we’re always adding new product ranges.”
Visit Hunter & Bloom, 17 Ashe Street, Clonakilty or find them on Instagram here.