Hacketstown, Carlow - Ireland’s most enterprising town?

How or why does one small rural town (population just over 1,000) produce a crop of impressive entrepreneurs operating small, successful businesses?

We've said it on That Great Business Show, there seems to be ‘something in the water’ in Hacketstown, a small town bordering counties Carlow and Wicklow, that seems to breed enterprise. So, what is it about Hacketstown? We investigate...

Local beauty

Hacketstown resident and entrepreneur Jo Browne, has had her skincare and perfume business go from a small town business to international beauty sensation. Jo, who featured on Episode 17, is now selling her luxury natural products to 12 countries around the world, most recently in the South Korean market. Why South Korea, you might ask? Because there’s a population of 50 million people, that's why! Jo identified increasing national and international opportunities as demand soared for her niche product. She looked to the LEO Carlow to help guide her business to the next milestone on its expansion journey. LEOs offer a variety of financial support to small businesses for such international expansion with funding and grants:

These supports made all the difference to Jo’s rapidly growing brand. Thanks to the financial support of the LEO Carlow, and other business development and mentoring programmes, Jo Browne’s product range is now stocked in 120 stores in Ireland, and multiple international locations.

Hacketstown goes green

In Episode 23, we met Caitriona Murphy of Cullen Nurseries, a 25-year-old Hacketstown company specialising in native trees and bushes. Caitriona made the difficult decision to give up the job she loved to help grow the family business. Since then, after a lot of ‘listening and learning’, she has become quite the horticultural expert. Covid has rapidly changed the nursery’s business model for the better but the importance of phone chats to help retain customers (in their fully online enabled business, mind you) cannot be underestimated! 

Along with a lot of hard work and grind, she credits the nursery’s most recent success to the many LEO (and other!) training programmes and courses she has attended, such as:

  • The Profit Academy: Gives companies a chance to develop their in-house capacity to build capacity and understanding in their financial health which will help them to grow and develop.
  • ACORNS Programme: Designed to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland (involving #TeamGBS favourite, Paula Fitzsimons, of course). 
  • Champion Green: The national movement to drive recovery of small business.

According to Caitriona, these programmes offer the unique opportunity to network with like-minded business people, build confidence, make SMART(ER) business goals and receive constructive feedback which in turn helps to improve and create sustainable business practices. 

No yolking matter!

Another Hacketstown entrepreneur who we interviewed in Episode 29, Paula Butler, co-founder of Butler's Organic Eggs, gave up her administration career in Higher Education to care for 250 organic hens. She's now 'minding' 4,050 hens that produce 3,500 eggs every day. Paula’s hire in a heartbeat? Most of County Carlow it seems! 

Paula couldn’t recommend the courses available at the LEO Carlow highly enough and thinks everyone in business should check their local one out. She especially raves about the LEO Lean for Micro business programme which helps to identify issues and potential improvement areas, provide support to implement and achieve savings and improvements in capability and capacity to deliver. 

Only Hacketstown?

But can this just be a Hacketstown thing? How does your town rate for entrepreneurs? We want to hear from you as we finally find out – what is Ireland’s most enterprising town?