DIGG Childrenswear in Dungannon is owned by Caroline O’Neill who is a busy mum with two little boys and has a passion for all things kids and all things fashion. Digital Twenty Four caught up with Caroline to find out more about her journey into the world of business, and how she manages the different elements of offline and online marketing to promote her business.
How did you get started in business?
I opened DIGG Childrenswear 10 years ago as a 25 year old. Prior to this I was an Occupational Therapist. Strange change in career choice I know, however when I was studying for my degree I worked part time in retail and I loved it. I gained so much experience during this time as a part time worker and when I speak to my old employer now they say they could see even back then that I was always pushing myself to do more. I never worked for just what I was earning. I always yearned for more responsibility, more experience. Little did I know but I was gaining so much experience for my future when really I thought it was just a little side-line to help me get through college.
How do I market my business?
Marketing my business has changed so much over the last ten years. Way back in the beginning, word of mouth was all I depended on and to be honest it was all that was needed. Yes, I did traditional forms of advertising but I mainly relied on a good customer experience then being relayed to others. And my business was growing.
However in my opinion, things began to change in the last 5 years. This wasn’t enough anymore. I saw a change in the economy and how much disposable income people had and what my customers were expecting from the shopper experience. They were now receiving so much stimulation from the comfort of their own home why would they choose to come to Dungannon to shop In DIGG? I now had to start fighting for my customer.
This was when I decided I would embrace this “social media thing” everyone was talking about. For a few years I dabbled in Facebook and Instagram and things did begin to improve but I soon realised that people wanted to be able to access my product from their armchairs and so I made the daunting decision to launch a website.
Who do you seek advice from for your business?
Firstly, I always speak with my family. They are the ones who see me stressed when I am trying to figure something out or make a decision. I often find when I verbalise what’s in my head to them it never quite seems as bad as I had built it up to be.
Niamh Taylor from Digital Twenty Four has been an amazing support to me in my business since launching my website. She gave me advice and mentoring at the very beginning of the launch of my website that has been the driving force behind everything I have done since then. She is straight talking and to the point. Exactly what anyone needs at times of crisis or change in your business.
How has your business developed over the years?
I am so proud to say that DIGG has grown into a brand name now that people recognise. This has been mostly due to events which I have organised. For some reason I find it very hard to stay within the confines of childrenswear. I recently ran an event DIGG Deep for Kids which attracted 1500 people to Dungannon and raised £6000 for Cash for Kids. My passion for helping other businesses has also driven me to launch my own Facebook Group DIGG For Success and in turn roll out an amazing event, ‘Under The Influence’ which will take place on 23rd March in Dungannon. DIGG is now much more than selling kidswear. It is a community of people all having fun, learning and creating memories.
Where do you see the business in 10 years time?
What a question! If I were to put on paper everything that is in my head my husband might kill me. But you have to be ambitious, right? I see DIGG Childrenswear as a one stop shopping destination in Dungannon. Absolutely everything all things kids under one roof. Don’t get me started – I see coffee for the family members who were dragged along for the day, I see childcare for your kids while you shop in peace. The mind boggles with the possibilities. For my online store I want to be able to make my website more accessible and easy to navigate for customers all over the world – multi-lingual and multi-currency.
I want DIGG For Success to be implementing training for businesses all over Ireland as well as online. I want DIGG Deep for Kids to continue to raise money for charities in Ireland which help our young people in any way. Maybe by 2028 we will have reached £100,000 mark.
As you can see I have a lot of work to do but that’s what I live for. I heard a very inspirational woman say recently, “Don’t die with your music still in you”, and I plan to let my music be heard every day.
Massive thanks to Caroline for sharing her story.