Sheelin Conlon, founder of eco-aware lifestyle brand, The Kind, has been named this year’s winner of the Champion Green Readymade Retail prize, in partnership with Aviva Life & Pensions.
Almost 100 entries were received from SMEs eager to win the €50,000 retail opportunity, centred on a prime pop-up shop in the prestigious Blackrock Village Centre in south Dublin.
Champion Green, Ireland’s support local initiative, organises the annual competition to encourage local brands and businesses to expand into a retail space. Online businesses looking to grow, regional stores eager to test the Dublin market, and small manufacturers wanting to capitalise on the festive sales period were among the competition entrants.
‘I am beyond excited at this absolutely incredible opportunity to showcase and sell our range’, are the words of Sheelin Conlon, on finding out today (Monday, 3 October) that her business pitch had succeeded.
The small business owner created her independent lifestyle brand in 2019. Currently operating online only, The Kind curates beautifully crafted, sustainable and ethically-made products. Eco-friendly ranges include wellness and self-care, living and homewares, books and gifts
“We stock over 100 beautiful brands, from independent businesses and makers who share the same vision for a better, more sustainable future. And, we put style and substance into sustainable shopping for our many customers who like to make a positive impact on the planet”, Sheelin Conlon says.
The pop-up shop on the upper level of Blackrock Village Centre is worth €21,550 (including rent and rates; excl utilities). It is provided free of charge by Aviva Life & Pensions on a six-month rental licence, from now until March 2023. Shopfitting advice and equipment, valued at €5,000, is supplied by fit-out specialists, Roccul.
The business also wins free parcel-sending for a year within Ireland, from An Post Commerce, to support online retailing, as well as a free direct-mail campaign, worth €10,000 combined.
Congratulating the Readymade Retail winner, Carina Galavan, Property Fund Specialist, Aviva Ireland said; “We are proud to have supported Champion Green since it first launched in 2020, encouraging the growth of local businesses and start-ups.
“The opportunity for a brand or business to experience the potential of retail, risk-free, is unique, and we wish Sheelin and her team every success, as they bring their very original sustainable consumer range to Blackrock Village Centre.
“Sustainability is a fundamental part of Aviva’s strategy and integral to what we do as a business; The Kind shares this purpose and will be a great fit for the Centre”.
The chairman of the judging panel was Duncan Graham, Managing Director of Retail Excellence, who said that, as inflation bites, the country needs to rally to the support of local businesses.
“Champion Green encourages the public to shop and to ‘click’ local, as well as seeking local service-providers first. This is now more important than ever. We need businesses in local communities to provide jobs and local services, and to remain vibrant for future generations.”
Business consultancy with well-known entrepreneur and SMEs champion, Bobby Kerr, is also offered to the prize winner, while complimentary membership of Retail Excellence, the Small Firms Association and Chambers Ireland, all Champion Green supporters, is included too.
Store marketing and PR, worth €15,000, is also in the mix, along with business planning and professional mentoring from MentorsWork, the Government-backed SMEs productivity scheme.
Previous Readymade Retail winners include Irish design brand, Jill & Gill, and Ambr Eyewear.
Champion Green is a campaign to inspire people to support local, to do business locally, and to source local product and services, both in-person and online. The aim is to help Ireland’s SMEs and to keep towns and communities vibrant.
It is the brainchild of Marian O’Gorman, Kilkenny Design Chairperson, whose family business has fostered numerous Irish craft and creative enterprises for almost 60 years.
Founded in 2020, Champion Green is supported by Kilkenny Design and VISA, in association with Retail Excellence, the Small Firms Association and Chambers Ireland. The initiative is backed by a €1m investment to drive consumer support for local enterprise and help SMEs grow business.