Monday, 20 February 2023
“Every decision we make has some kind of sustainable element in it, and going forward, it'll be looking at new innovations, new materials, and asking what can we bring that's eco-friendly back to Donegal.”
Recently returned to Donegal from London, small business owner Orla O’Hagan has taken what was once a pastime that didn’t get all that much attention in the hustle and bustle of city life to a full, booming business. She claims the success behind Orla Vera Accessories is down to innovative design, sustainable practices, and a pace of life in her new home that allows her to root the business’ unflinching ethos in the supportive atmosphere of a community like Donegal.
Shipping worldwide, and with customers from all over Ireland quite literally popping into the workshop to say hello, Orla says the appeal of setting up shop in Donegal is easy to see.
What have been some of the secrets of your success?
I think the main secret of our success is that, with the way the world is going, we are sustainable. We use recycled leather in all of our products. Thankfully, we're so busy that I employ three people. We still work from my mom and dad's shed. People call in and see us. You don't have to have an appointment, you can just call in. It's very easygoing.
Describe some of your products.
We have a range of styles. Our main one is our cross-body bag with interchangeable straps, the Vera. With it, you have one bag and multiple looks with different straps.
What is it like as a young entrepreneur in Donegal?
As I always say, I never meant to start a business. It was a total pastime, a hobby, but it just slowly turned into a business and I couldn't be happier. Donegal has so much to offer in terms of support and the customers. Everyone shops local.
I think the main thing is just to keep going, keep challenging yourself. Donegal is a great place to be.
What advice would you have for other people who are thinking about making the jump and moving from say, London to Donegal, and are wondering: ‘Will there be good coffee? What about nightclubs? Am I going to be living on a country road?
I would definitely come to Donegal and set up a business. You can go and walk the beach on your lunch break before or after work, and there are so many great bars and restaurants, the nightlife is brilliant. There are so many people to meet and places to go. It's just such a brilliant place.
You can find Orla online at orlaveraaccessories.com, or on Instagram @orlaveraaccessories.
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