29 August 2021
By Tom Collins
Jellyfish Surf Shop in Clonakilty, West Cork, is one of Ireland’s leading surf and swim specialist shops. Since first opening in Summer 2003, this business has recovered from recessionary times, flooding, lengthy street closures and disruptive weather events but the forced closures due to the covid pandemic has been the biggest challenge to date, says business owner and founder of Jellyfish Surf Shop, Nollaig Hurley. Nollaig’s determination to never give up caught the attention of the judges of the Network Ireland West Cork Businesswoman of the year awards, when she won the Established Business category. Nollaig will represent the West Cork branch at the National Awards held in Waterford later this year.
A native of West Cork, Nollaig grew up a stone’s throw from the sea on the coast very near Toe Head in Castlehaven and has lived in Clonakilty for over 20 years. Originally, her career started with a hospitality business management qualification from GMIT and after managing restaurants and a hotel, the next goal and logical career move was to become self-employed and she has not looked back.
Being a small retailer, even in the dynamic tourist town of Clonakilty, is not without its challenges. More recently, Brexit has certainly impacted on the supply chain causing delays and increased costs. Ensuring stock levels to meet the demand can be tricky, as covid restrictions and Brexit still impact on production and shipping worldwide. Of course, the covid pandemic and ensuing forced closures was the biggest challenge the business has ever faced. Jelly Fish Surf Shop has embraced and adapted to all these challenges, especially in recent years, increasing opening hours to trading 7 days a week and developing an e-commerce site aptly named, www.jellyfishsurfshop.com. The website meant that the business could offer a 24/7 shopping experience to a national customer base. In addition to this, growing a social media presence keeps customers up to date with all things new in store and in the wider community. Nollaig says that the business’ best attribute is the Jellyfish Team.
“The staff have really worked hard to keep the boat afloat, they really stepped up when needed, especially when the demand for all things surf and swim escalated dramatically. I cannot acknowledge their hard work and dedication enough.”
Nollaig is developing and increasing the Jellyfish Surf Shop own brand products, already the range includes towelling robes, all weather changing robes, buff neckwear and Jellyfish Surf Shop clothing, t-shirts and hoodies. Nollaig and her team also plan for the business to become more sustainable, with measures being introduced to incorporate recycled and recyclable materials in their packaging and own brand products.
Nollaig will represent West Cork in the Established Business category of the Network Ireland Businesswoman of the year awards. The event will be livestreamed from the Theatre Royal Waterford on 8th October 2021. Speaking ahead of the interview process for the National Awards, Nollaig thanked Network Ireland for their support,
“Network Ireland West Cork have been a huge support to me personally, the encouragement and opportunities cannot be underestimated. The organisation is a massive resource, and the immediate feedback, advice, recommendations and general positiveness is always appreciated. Winning the Established Business category for the West Cork Branch has been an amazing experience. The standard of women in business in West Cork is very high and amongst them some great role models. The response from customers, friends and family of the award win has been incredible with people going out of their way to congratulate me through all forms of communication. It has elevated my business to a new level and the public awareness of what Jellyfish Surf Shop is about has increased and improved because of this award. I am very proud, if a little overwhelmed to represent West Cork at the National awards in October but also very excited to showcase my business and the West Cork Branch on a National level.”