New Plan Nets Big Results for Online Babywear Brand

Time away from the office during Áine McGurk’s first maternity leave in 2017 inspired her idea for Dainty Bear, a classic babywear brand combining comfort and style.

When Áine couldn’t find good quality, stylish soft-shoed footwear for her daughter as she was learning to walk, a gap in the market became apparent. After 6 months of research, brand development and sample sourcing, Dainty Bear was launched in May 2017. Áine continued to work in her fast-paced career as an IT Manager as the business grew, until having her second daughter Robyn in November 2018, when she decided not to return to her full-time role.

“I wanted to spend time with my two girls while they were young and give Dainty Bear my best shot” she says.

Dainty Bear’s classic designs feature Mary Janes, knee high socks with ribbon details and matching hair bows. “I believe in creating classic, timeless babywear with comfort and style in mind, essentially items I can’t easily find for my daughters in the shops,” she says.

A new baby clothing line has also just been added, which launches in late September.

Dainty Bear’s Instagram account is followed by close to 10K fans of the brand, and new online sales records in April and June of this year has given Áine a huge boost. But rewards didn’t come easy.

COVID-19 had a huge impact on her business, she says, with a lot her offline events cancelled, resulting in the loss of guaranteed revenue. “Instead of dwelling on the negatives, I decided I really wanted to focus on growing my business.”

She quickly got to work implementing her growth plans, which included increasing her social media presence, upskilling through free training supports for small business, investing in PR and adding new products to her range. But that was just the warm up.

She also designed the clothing range that launches later this month, updated her website and completed her second popup shop in Kildare village in June.

“I believe a lot of the hard work and focus I have given throughout this uncertain period has paid off as I tripled my online sales in April and May and I was recently nominated for Business Woman of the Year in Network Dublin and received the Highly Commended Award,” she says, adding that she was “shocked and delighted.”

#ChampionGreen #SupportLocal

“I’m a huge believer in supporting local businesses, buying Irish where possible and using Irish suppliers for my business needs,” says Áine, who was involved in Izest Marketing’s One A Day initiative during lockdown.

The initiative encouraged businesses to swap skills and supports and, for her part, Áine volunteered to leverage her 10K-strong Instagram profile to promote other small businesses. “I knew I had to be a part of it because it was a chance to help other businesses succeed and that is something I firmly believe in,” she says.

Throughout lockdown, she promoted 10 businesses on Instagram, taking the time to get to know them better and build content for her stories to give them the best possible exposure.

“I’m still in touch with some of the business owners and I bought some of their products.”

Connecting with her business community during lockdown was hugely rewarding, she says, and has taught her a lot. “I think as a small island we have pulled together and buying Irish and supporting your own has never been more important. I’m proud to say I’m the founder and owner of an Irish business and I will do everything in my power to promote others like me to help them get the success they deserve.”

To browse Dainty Bear’s full collection, click here.

Champion Green is supported by @KilkennyShop and @VisaIreland, in association with @sfa_irl@retail_excellence and Chambers Ireland.