‘I’d be so much happier working with him,’ says Joanne Jones, who runs the UK eco bags operation, as she launches a tour guide for the first time.
‘I’ve worked with people in my life, and I’ve worked in retail, and it’s not like I’ve never had some sort of personal or financial issue, but I never really had a crisis.’
Jones says that while she had her own problems at first, her personal finances were never in jeopardy.
‘My family and I were quite lucky, and we didn’t have any major financial problems, but we were on a tight budget.’
Joanne and her husband John, from Glasgow, who both worked as retail assistants, were travelling in Ireland with the aim of opening up a new business, with the support of a local family business.
‘We were travelling with two of the other members of the family, and John and I did a lot of research into the business and how it works,’ she says.
‘John had been in the UK for a year and a half, and was looking for a good opportunity.
He had a business licence and was keen to get his feet wet in Ireland.
‘The idea for the company came together quickly and the plan was to open up a small boutique in the town of Derry.
‘After we arrived, we were approached by the local business association and they were interested in our ideas and wanted to work out the details of how we could get the business going.’
Jones was looking to start with a small business and expand with her business partner John, but soon found that there were other companies that were interested as well.
‘They came back to us saying they had experience working in a similar situation and they thought that we could come up with something that could work for them.’
The business idea was to create a boutique and sell eco bags to local shops and restaurants.
‘One of the problems was that the shops would have to buy the bags and the restaurants would have have to pay for the bags, and they didn’t want to pay that, so we ended up having to start selling a bag on eBay and Amazon.’
Then we found that it would also be quite hard to run a business on the cheap and that there was not enough time to develop the business.’
So we ended the business, but there was a lot more work to be done.
We found that the biggest challenge was getting the business off the ground and getting people to see the potential that it could have.’
The team needed a business partner and Joanne found a local business called Eco-bag Ireland.
After a few meetings, Joanne says that she was ‘really impressed’ by Eco-bags.
‘It was really a small company, and the manager of the business is a really nice person and he’s really committed to the business,’ she said.
‘So I thought, let’s see what he’s got to say.
I thought that was really good.’
John and I had been looking for people who could be the right person to take on the business of running this business and I was really happy to have someone who was really committed and could really take it on.’
Jo, who has worked in the fashion industry before, had previously worked as a fashion editor, but now worked in fashion, which was a challenge for her.
‘A lot of times it was a matter of being too creative or too expensive, and if I can work with John to create something that’s affordable, that’s something I can live with,’ she explains.
‘He’s a really great designer and it was great to get to work together and to work on something I’ve always wanted to do.
‘But I think what’s really good about the business venture is that we can take our business to a whole new level and be able to create some of the products that are on the shelves, because we have a very strong team.’
Jo says that the idea for Eco-bags was born out of her own personal financial difficulties, but she was confident that her husband and business partner would be able help her take on this venture.
‘As an entrepreneur, you have to be realistic, and you have no idea how many times your ideas have failed,’ she tells Buzzfeed.
‘When we first started out, I had no idea that I’d be working on a project that I had never thought of before.
But the first few months I really thought I’d have the confidence to start, because I had a lot to learn, and this was something I really wanted to learn.’
Jo and John, who are both based in Edinburgh, are both avid golfers and the pair have played golf in the past and plan to continue with the sport.
‘You have to take your time, you need to have a plan, you really have to know what you’re going to do and why you’re doing it, and that’s what John and myself