Try not to think too much about what other people think of you or what your “competitors” are doing. Keep you business goals in mind and you will succeed.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing
Gerard is a teacher turned small business co-founder based in NYC. He speaks 4 languages and has lived in 7 different countries. Traveling and experiencing new cultures is something he thoroughly enjoys.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was raised in a small town in Ireland by a single mother and I’m the youngest of 5 children. We were from a very hard working family and I was the 2nd in our family to go to university. At the age of 15 we lost our mother to Leukemia and we had to become independent. As children we used to love the Christmas holidays as our mother would cook up the tastiest dinner. You would wake up on Christmas morning as excited about the food as you would be for Santa’s presents.
Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have a few quotes that I have lived by. One of which is, “Stranger things have happened”. This reminds me in times of difficulty that although my feelings are valid, there have been much worse things to happen. It’s sort of a way to regain perspective and refocus on things we should be grateful for.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
There is a movie called Breakfast on Pluto with the Irish actor Cillian Murphy. This movie resonated with me as I came out of the closet at 15 years of age in a small Irish town and face a lot of abuse and homophobia. This move spoke to me as the main character exudes an air of confidence and is truly himself despite what people think.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I have been working as an elementary and middle school teacher for the past 7 years. I was teaching in Barcelona and then Mexico City and I have since had a change of career. I moved to NYC to be closer to family (my sister and 3 year old nephew) as family time was long overdue haha. When I got here I was working in a bar until I found my feet and then the pandemic happened which put both my sister & I out of a job.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
As a result of losing our jobs due to the pandemic we had to become creative very quickly. We played with a few ideas but something just wasn’t clicking. I was teaching online to try to keep some sort of income. My sister and I then brainstormed ideas and we decided we should start our own business selling care packages. We weren’t aware of any successful businesses selling Irish care packages so we saw a gap in the market. Usually Irish care packages consist of snacks and chocolate but we always knew we wanted to be much more personal and less corporate than that.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
Our Aha moment was when we were literally in the kitchen drinking coffee and pulling our hair out about money stress and work stress. At this point we knew we wanted to do care packages but we didn’t have a brand name or logo etc. Once we started talking about it we had a few ideas. None of which were clicking. Then suddenly we had the idea to call our business From over th’Éire because it would be a play on words showing that our products are from Éire (or Ireland in Irish) and also it sounds like from over there in English. At that point we both looked at each other and said, that’s it! We got it! So that afternoon we designed our logo and the rest is history.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Things were off to a slow start. Most sales were from people we knew but now in the run up to Christmas and the holiday season we are seeing an uptick in sales from people we don’t know or who found us through word of mouth, social media or google. After launching 3 months ago we have been featured in a national Irish newspaper and we have gotten our first investment.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
We would have to say our mother. She raised us in such a way that we are resilient and independent adults. We work hard and we always try to figure something out. I would also have to say thanks to Adam our first investor as he has experience with setting up small businesses and has guided us on our way to becoming an official LLC.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
The most exciting thing that has happened has probably been the influx of positive messages and love from people we haven’t even met. We have received messages and advice from other small businesses who think like we do. Our idea is about bringing people together and making each other stronger in a time when the world is falling apart. So, we’re grateful for the businesses who have seen us as friend’s from over th’Eire rather than competition — which is the true Irish attitude. Everyone’s welcome to join our céilí. We’ve received messages from people saying things like, “Thank you for representing our wee country in such a beautiful way”. Reading the messages customers choose to write for their loved ones makes all of this worthwhile and so rewarding knowing how our little business idea that started in our kitchen is helping people send a socially distanced hug in a box.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I don’t feel like we have many regrets. We got into this knowing we would be learning as we went because neither of us had prior experience running a business. I would say, however:
- Learn about SEO.
- Network with as many people as possible.
- Don’t wait around for the perfect moment to launch a product. Just get it out there!
- Research as much as you can about anything you want to improve in your business. Become savvy and read a lot because you might just discover something you hadn’t even thought of.
- Try not to think too much about what other people think of you or what your “competitors” are doing. Keep you business goals in mind and you will succeed.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
Our mental health has taken a huge hit. My sister is a single mom to my 3 year old nephew and he is currently out of school due to restrictions. It’s been challenging balancing setting up a business and also allowing a 3 year old the space to learn. We try to delegate tasks within the business so that things become more streamlined and as such neither of us becomes overwhelmed. Some days we will be working into the late hours and we won’t even realise. Even though we enjoy it we have to make a conscious effort so as to not drain ourselves mentally and also allow time to relax and unwind.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Wow! Tough question. There are so many important and worthy causes but I would have to choose either an LGBT charity or a men’s mental health charity because I have lost loved ones to suicide and felt the effects of mental health myself. This is an important cause because men oftentimes don’t express how they feel so I would like to create a movement where men feel comfortable opening up.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
One person I would love to have lunch with is Lady Gaga. I feel like she is such a huge talent as well as a massive force for good in the world. She does so much for mental health, LGBTQ+ and generally just bringing people closer together in such divided times.
How can our readers follow you online?
We can be found at:
@fromovertheire // www.fromovertheire.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!