You're ready to start selling your product online, but don't know how to take the next step? Listen up to Carol-Anne Leyden, Director and co-founder of CA Design, as she shares her tips for merging online with a standalone store.

  1. We realised our online business needed to be supported with a space where customers could come and see our products in the flesh soon after we launched. Because of the tactile nature of our products our customers really needed to see the quality of our collection, especially when it’s something you might be sitting on every day. After our first pop-up shop, we moved to a permanent showroom space in Ringsend which resembled a New York loft. We felt that a permanent shop front was the natural progression for the business.
  2. Eighty per cent of our customers find us online but then want to see the product in real life. There are lots of different companies out there selling similar design classics and the quality and price really varies. We are thrilled to be able to offer customers the chance to touch and feel our fabrics and leather for themselves. We pride ourselves on quality and this is a good way to showcase it.
  3. You really need to watch your overheads and overall spend when you’re setting up a business. In our case we launched bang in the middle of a recession so keeping overheads down was key and the fact that we could launch online without a shop front, particularly when most people search online when they’re looking for a product before making a trip to the shops was a no-brainer.
  4. My motivation definitely comes from my parents. My dad always told me not to spend too much time thinking about an idea or one particular thing but to make a decision, move on and go with your gut. Keep your customers happy and outsource as much as possible to focus on the core objective of the business – in our case, delighting customers with quality furniture at the right price.
  5. I think this is a good time for women in business and we are seeing more and more women succeed. Things are definitely on the up and there are much more opportunities and support networks for women now than there would have been 10 years or even five years ago, so I think this is an excellent time and women should really embrace it.