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‘Gingerbread and Buttercup’ mum of three benefitting from technical skills and expertise at NRC

Tuesday

Female standing next to clothes rail

Local entrepreneurs are continuing to benefit from the technical skills and expertise of the Business Engagement team at Northern Regional College. Tailored support for small businesses is readily available through Department for the Economy (DfE) funded skills development programmes such as InnovateUS, Skills Focus and Innovation Vouchers.

One such business to take advantage of the free business support available by tapping into the excellent resources at FE colleges is Gingerbread and Buttercup. The Feeny based company makes unique and stylish clothes for children and babies, including dresses, rompers, leggings, jumpers and lounge suits, with all items handmade to order in quality fabrics and sold online. 

The company has grown steadily since it was established five years ago by Siobhan Mullan, a mother of three young boys. Most customers from the UK and Ireland but, with the Gingerbread and Buttercup range now available through Esty, the online marketplace for handmade gifts, Siobhan finds she is shipping further and further afield. 

Eoin McGahon, one of the College’s Technical Specialists, outlined the challenges facing the company and how it was able to benefit from College’s support. 

“Gingerbread and Buttercup sells online, and Siobhan was keen to learn how to manage and get the most out of the company’s website. She also wanted to get a better understanding of digital marketing to increase sales and help the company’s continued growth. 

“We offered support under InnovateUS, a fully funded DfE skills development programme which provides bespoke training solutions for small businesses. Siobhan received 30 hours of upskilling support and one-to-one training with a mentor on how to manage and develop the company website, and to launch and optimise digital marketing activities,” he explained. 

Eoin said as the project progressed, Siobhan grew in confidence and a follow up project with Gingerbread and Buttercup is now planned to further develop eCommerce and digital marketing strategies for the business.  

“Gingerbread and Buttercup’s listing performance greatly improved to increase the rate of conversions and improve search engine optimisation (SEO). We also developed new digital marketing activities to increase brand awareness and website traffic.”   

Siobhan said that until she did the mentoring sessions, her IT literacy skills were “fairly basic”.  

“I was learning as I went along and was happy with my website as it was easy for customers to navigate but I thought I should be able to do more with it. Now I feel more confident about managing the website myself to make work more efficiently for the business,” she said. 

Siobhan admits that until she did the mentoring sessions, she was not aware how tools like Google Analytics or ads on social media worked. She now has a much better understanding of how beneficial they can be and how to make them work for her business – she also has all her notes to refer to if she’s unsure about anything.  

“I definitely learned so much. Already I’m seeing the benefits as my website has a much greater reach with increased traffic being directed to it.”  

For further information on how Northern Regional College’s Business Engagement team can help your business, contact business.engagement@nrc.ac.uk.