Louise Lawlor is currently celebrating the 15th anniversary of her company Blink Design, so what better time to talk to her about her career to date…
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in business?
I’m originally from Gort, County Galway but I came to Limerick to study. Fairly early on I knew I wanted to study graphic design and the course at LSAD was by far my first preference because of the college’s international reputation and the fact they do the first year basic in art and design. After that I worked for a signage company for a while and did a bit of freelance work here and there. Then the freelancing kind of took over my time and I decided to take the plunge and go it alone full time, and that’s how Blink Design was born in 2001!
Who are Blink Design? What do you feel makes the business unique?
My passion has always been creativity and with Blink Design it’s all about creativity, precision and helping people develop their brand identity. I like to say that we bring professional effective design with a sense of fun and friendliness! Most important is the focus on building relationships – the value of investing time into nurturing relationships can’t be measured. With Blink I’ve built a strong network of printers, marketers and creatives. We have a number of long term clients who call on us whenever they need something, no matter how long it’s been since the last project. It’s great to know that we’re the first point of call for them.
What did you do for your anniversary celebrations?
I held a party at the Hunt Museum Café for family, friends, clients and everyone who has worked with and supported Blink Design over the years. So much of business involves critiquing and being a bit hard on yourself so it’s important to take moments to celebrate your achievements too and thank those who have helped get you there.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your work to date and how did you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge by far was keeping the business going through the recession. At the best of times you have to be willing to continually review business and strategise, but in bad economic times it is constant, it is daily asking yourself ‘how much is this costing, is this working, where can we save?’ just in order to survive, let alone grow. I had to make some extremely difficult decisions during that time and try to cut costs without strangling the business by doing so. That’s a difficult balance to strike. The worst part was having to cut the hours of my full time designer, and then making the very difficult decision to let her go. That was hard.
What is your experience of Limerick as a place to do business? How important has Network Ireland Limerick been to your career development?
Limerick is a great place to do business. I have always made an effort to put myself out there and network, and joining Network Ireland Limerick was life changing – I’ve made great connections and lifelong friends out of it and been able to learn from some amazing and inspirational speakers.
Tell us a bit about your role as Network Ireland Limerick President for 2016? What’s coming up?
It keeps me busy! I was delighted to take on the role of President; it’s pushed me out of my comfort zone in many ways with things like public speaking.
We’re currently preparing for the autumn and winter season of events so there is a lot to look forward to before the year is out.
What is the most recent book you’ve read?
I tend to read more blogs and articles than books, though I would love to read more books. I most recently read Steve Jobs’ biography, he is a major source of inspiration for many in design, where would we be without the Mac! I’m also reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, now that is a story of resilience and overcoming hardship.
Who are you biggest business inspirations and why?
Authenticity in business always inspires me, and Richard Branson is someone I greatly admire. He is brilliant at what he does and comes across as a genuine and conscientious person at the same time. Gina London, who we were lucky to have speak for us at Network Ireland Limerick in February, is another brilliant mind who is just so genuine and lovely to talk to.
What does a day off look like for you? Do you find it easy to switch off?
I’m much better than I used to be, I’ve had to be strict with myself but I will set the odd reminder if something pops into my head. The nature of what I do means I spend of lot of time in front of a screen at home, so I like to get outside as much as possible. I often drive to Lahinch and Liscannor, or go home to Galway to visit family, they are always full of fun. I enjoy being out in nature whatever the weather. I also love photography so I always take my camera out with me when walking.
Do you have a favourite quote/business mantra that keeps you inspired?
“Just keep getting better every day at what you are doing.” I think that more or less says it all. That and “give yourself credit” – we all need reminding of that from time to time.
Article by: Kayleigh Ziolo
Photography by: Shauna Kennedy
Read more from The Limerick Magazine here.