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We all dream of succeeding in our careers, whether you’re a nurse, a florist or a journalist. We can all admit that we’ve daydreamed about becoming an Oscar winning actress or perhaps the founder of a successful fashion brand like Irish entrepreneur sisters Malindi and Elena Demery.

The empowering duo have strived in the fashion world since starting their company Malena Fashion. However, running your own company can be stressful at the best of times. Luckily, the girls have a solution for the bad days. They said one thing that keeps them going is appreciating even the smallest achievements, stressing that women should always believe in themselves.

Both Malindi and Elena admitted they were nervous about being a woman in the business industry. Females have been underestimated and disrespected for far too long, but the sisters have only gone from strength to strength since launching their company.

The pair have exceeded an astonishing €3 million turnover annually as the exclusive distributors of Freddy Jeans in the UK and Ireland, and the brains behind Malena Fashion.

The girls’ dad has always been part of the fashion business, so they “were always involved in one way or another.”

It was their dad’s positive attitude that motivated them on the days when work was daunting and their dreams felt like they were out of reach.

“He always finds the good even in the most negative situations. He showed us there’s always a silver lining,” they shared.

They've clearly inherited is upbeat attitude. The girls extended their words of wisdom to the young women of Ireland, who recently collected their exam results. 

Thousands of students are faced with massive decisions to make about their future, but the sisters admitted that regardless of how well you do, not even bad results can stop you from pursuing your dreams.

“Go at your own pace. Once you care about what you do you’ll go for it. Grades should never stop you from doing what you love” they said.

 

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Celebrities including Laura Whitmore, Vogue Williams and even the princess of pop Britney Spears have been spotted rocking the popular Freddy Jeans, but the sisters said the jeans are for every woman, no matter what her size or age.

They explained that the best thing about Freddy Jeans is how good you feel in them. We all know how daunting shopping for jeans is. Some are too long, others are too tight, finding the perfect pair can feel like mission impossible.

Elena and Malindi explained that the jeans are loved by everyone, from 18-year-old students to 60-year-old grandmothers. One store that sells the well-loved jeans recently told the girls that an 87-year-old woman purchased a pair of high waist Freddy Jeans, proving that it doesn’t matter who you are, anyone can wear them.

The ultra stretchy fabric will leave you feeling super confident, whether you’re a size six or 16. The girls recommend snapping up a pair of the classic black jeans as we get closer to the winter months.

We are all guilty of buying a cheap pair of jeans for a tenner, but the fashion experts recommend investing in pieces that will see you through many winters.

The sisters stressed the importance of avoiding fast fashion. Spending that little bit extra on a pair of Freddy Jeans or on a snuggly cashmere jumper from luxury brand Rosamund is a wiser move. “The pieces will stay with you forever.”

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Enterprise Ireland’s €1 million Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for Female Entrepreneurs will open for applications on Tuesday, 1 May. Up to €50,000 in equity funding is available to a maximum of 20 successful female applicants with early stage start-up companies. Last year, 46 per cent of all companies who received CSF investment from Enterprise Ireland were female-led.

In addition to securing vital funding, 15 of the successful applicants will be offered a place on the INNOVATE accelerator programme, delivered by Dublin BIC. Taking place over a 12-week period in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, the interactive INNOVATE programme will increase the capabilities of the participants and move them to investor-ready within a short period.

The purpose of a CSF for female entrepreneurs is to accelerate the growth of female-led start-up companies that have the potential to employ more than 10 people and achieve €1 million in export sales within three years.

Introduced in 2012 as part of Enterprise Ireland’s female entrepreneurship strategy, the dedicated fund is designed to enable companies reach key commercial and technical milestones which will ensure delivery of their product or service to an international audience. Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, said: “There is no doubt that tailored and targeted initiatives have had a positive impact on the numbers of female-led, scalable start-ups seeking support from the Government through our State Agency, Enterprise Ireland. I am delighted that last year, almost half of start-ups that received Competitive Start Fund investments were companies led by women. We want to build on this and ensure that more female entrepreneurs from all different industry sectors are encouraged to apply this year.”

Working with ambitious start-ups led by women is a key focus for Enterprise Ireland and the purpose of the CSF is to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have the capability to become High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) companies.

Rachael James, Female Entrepreneurship Manager, Enterprise Ireland added: “We made a commitment in 2012 to female entrepreneurs in this country to increase supports dedicated to them, and we did this in direct response to the low number of female-led start-ups receiving investments and supports.

Six years later the breakdown is encouraging. More than one in three start-ups supported by Enterprise Ireland last year through the High Potential Start-Up programme and CSFs were led by women, compared to just one in ten start-ups in 2012. However, we need to keep this momentum and grow these numbers so that we see more women confidently starting new businesses and successfully scaling existing ones.”

Conor Carmody, Dublin BIC Investor Ready Programme Manager said: “Dublin BIC supports entrepreneurs to start and scale though a number of channels and programmes including delivery of the Innovate Programme, the Enterprise Ireland accelerator designed to meet the needs of female-led start-ups with the ambition to scale internationally and to become ‘investor ready’, a crucial step in becoming a High Potential Start-Up company. We are delighted to once again partner with Enterprise Ireland on delivering what has proven to be a very effective programme.”  

Full details on the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs, including the application form and eligibility criteria, can be accessed on the Enterprise Ireland website: www.enterprise-ireland.com/FemaleEntrepreneurship

The Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs will close for submissions at 3pm on Tuesday 15th May.

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In these times, it can sometimes feel like Ireland has gone backwards, or our residents aren't creative enough to build major empires for themselves.

But honestly, that couldn't be further from the truth.

While attending Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur Awards in Google HQ yesterday, I saw first-hand just how driven, smart, and ambitious young entrepreneurs in Ireland are.

The awards are aimed at people between the ages of 18 and 35, who own, manage and control their own businesses – and there’s a lot of reasons why they enter this competition.

There is a €2m investment fund and business support to help their businesses along the way. There's also various amounts of prize money given out to winners and runners-up in each field.

But their drive extends far beyond monetary incentive as I discovered yesterday.

These people are passionate about their businesses, they’re not afraid to take risks and they believe in themselves – something we should all try, no matter what line of work we’re in.

Ciara Clancy, who took home two awards for Best Established Business and Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, is not only changing the medical game for Parkinson's Disease in Ireland, but pushing boundaries all over the world with her app.

Richard Barrett, who created Pundit Arena, is giving sports journalism a new playing field and Roisin Hogan, who used to be an accountant, is now trying to change how busy women eat on-the-go.

No two businesses were the same, yet they all gained from being part of this programme.

Entrepreneurship in Ireland has majorly grown over the past five years, with start-up businesses accounting for two thirds of all new jobs in Ireland.

And with this being Local Enterprise Week, you can see how much backing start-up businesses have in Ireland, which is something I never realised before.

€32 million was invested in start-up businesses last year, with Enterprise Ireland supporting 229 new companies.

The government want you to be creative. They want you to come to them with a business idea. And, they want to help you make that vision a reality.

And as airy-fairy as that may sound, it's clear that more people need to do it.

We complain that there’s no jobs in Ireland, yet the nominees who took part in yesterday’s awards ranged from professionals in journalism, agriculture, motors, healthy eating and even bee-keeping.

There was a niche for everyone. They all created jobs in their local county, but most of all, they have all created a business that will not only help the economy, but bring new life to it.

Going forward I just hope Ireland becomes more creative and more young Irish people are inspired to create new businesses on their own. It's where the future is at.

So many people are fighting to create a better workforce, a better living standard… a better Ireland. 

The help and support is there for you. Grab it. Even if you only have a small idea, but are determined to make it work – just go for it.

Entrepreneurs create businesses, jobs, and growth in Ireland. They are the heroes of our economy.

So g'wan, be a hero.

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