LETTERKENNY based interior designer Anne Tuohy has received the backing of former Dragon’s Den judge Theo Paphitis and travelled over to Birmingham last week to pick up an award from the business guru. Anne was handpicked by Theo as the winner of his Small Business Sunday (#SBS) award and became the first ever Irish Interior Designer to achieve the accolade.
The #SBS awards on Twitter were created by Theo in October 2010, to provide a boost to his favourite six companies. Theo rewards small businesses that tweet him @TheoPaphitis and describe their businesses in one tweet. He then reviews them, chooses his favourite six who are then re-tweeted by him. With his half a million Twitter followers, this provides a massive boost for the lucky winners. The winners are also invited to a special #SBS event where they get to spend the day with Theo and many other hugely successful entrepreneurs.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week Anne said the experience has been great exposure for her business, Room Junkie. She said the experience has shown her that “location is no barrier to success”. Anne’s interior design story began when she bought a home with her husband in Foxrock in Dublin which needed a huge amount of work.
“We bought a beautiful old house in Foxrock. We were young and naive and we realised this house was a wreck. We had no money to do anything with it,” she said.
Despite not having much of a budget to work with Anne transformed the property to such a standard that it didn’t go unnoticed. After deciding to move to Letterkenny for her husband’s work they put the house up for sale and she was shocked when the house appeared on the front of the Irish Times property section. It was this recognition that prompted Anne to go on and study interior design professionally and was chosen to take part in RTE’s Showhouse which she went on to win.
Anne’s motto is “interior design is not just for the rich and famous” and if you know what you want then she can work within your budget. At the moment Anne is focusing on newbuilds and renovations and made a decision in January to turn her attention towards this side of the business as it is what she enjoys most. One of the projects she is currently working on is designing 12 glamping pods in Creeslough. Anne said the pods are a great challenge for her as she really has to make the most of the space. On the other end of the scale she is also designing a 5,000 square foot home in Galway.
With her attention now on newbuilds Anne has noticed that building has started again but homeowners are still cautious when it comes to what they will spend on interiors.
“People are building again and people want beautiful houses but they don’t want to spend silly money. There is sense out there. People are definitely building again and young people are which means banks are lending again,” she said.
With over 6,000 Facebook followers and nearly 5,000 Twitter followers Anne is building up quite a social media presence which may be one of the reasons she stood out for Theo. But for Anne what is important is she has a loyal following which she cherishes more than the numbers. You can follow Anne’s hints, tips and inspirations through her Facebook Page ‘Room Junkie’ and her Twitter is @RoomJunkieAnne.