Caroline just DIGGs being in business

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    SHOPPED: Caroline O’Neill pictured in August at the opening of her new baby and girlswear department at DIGG Childrenswear

    How did you get there?

    While studying at UU for my degree I had a part-time job in an independent family run clothes shop in Dungannon.

    I devoted my weekends and holidays to working in the shop and loved every minute.

    I gained immeasurable experience in the running of a business and gained real insight into the pressures and rewards of business. After working for a few years in occupational therapy the pull towards running my own business became overwhelming and I made the daunting leap into the world of self employment and opened DIGG Childrenswear in 2008.

    I got married in 2009 which then brought to the fore my love for all things weddings and so Changing Events came to life in 2010.

    Do you have a typical working day?

    My typical day starts at 6am where I have two great alarm clocks, my sons Pearse (two) and Darragh (eight months).

    I’m fortunate that when I arrive to work at 9am my staff have my shop opened and ready for a busy day which allows me to spend a few hours in my office answering any enquiries for Changing Events, updating accounts, and planning for the day ahead.

    A day in retail can really bring you in many different directions which is why I love it so much.

    From helping to style little customers, following a social media plan for the day, dealing with sale representatives from different brands, and countless trips to the post office, bank and dressmakers.

    It really never stops until you pull the shutter down at 5.30pm.

    What qualifications do you have?

    A BSc honours in occupational therapy, while I recently completed a first aid course [I live in fear of not being able to help someone in distress].

    What’s the best thing about your job?

    The sense of pride when customers travel from far distances to shop in DIGG and they then send me pictures of their kids wearing the clothes they bought for that special occasion [wedding, communion, confirmation or party] and thanking us for helping them.

    Also receiving that beautiful thank you card from a bride and groom thanking us for dressing their venue makes ironing all those chair covers worthwhile.

    And the worst?

    Not enough hours in the working day.

    What do you think are the greatest challenges/pressures of the job?

    Trying to juggle being a mummy and being self employed.

    Returning to work so quickly after the birth of my boys was definitely a challenge, but my job also allows me the flexibility to nip out for an hour if they have an appointment or leave work early if they are feeling unwell.

    What did you want to be when you were at school?

    My professional aspirations varied almost every week when I was at school.

    I remember telling my occupation therapy manager Shane Breen that I was leaving to go into business. He thought I was opening a bagel bar, so that might give an indication as to how I constantly dreamed [out loud] of being in business of some sort.

    What advice would you give someone considering a career in your profession?

    Don’t let your qualification define your career path if you have other aspirations. If the drive and passion are there then go for it, but be aware that it takes many years to make a business into a success and there will be times that you may feel defeated.

    How do you like to relax outside work?

    I love to spend time with my husband and two boys and at present I’m loving the series Suits on Netflix. I think I missed my calling to be a lawyer in New York.

    My husband keeps telling me I need to swap my Converse for high heels. But I just tell him then I would have to swap him for Harvey Spectre.