Sis­ters flip from fash­ion flop… to work­shop gu­rus

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - ATTACK ON SYRIA - By Ni­amh Walsh ni­amh.walsh@mailon­sun­

THREE sis­ters, whose on­line fash­ion start-up floun­dered leav­ing debts of some €900,000, have rein­vented them­selves as busi­ness gu­rus, charg­ing €349 for a six-hour work­shop.

In 2013, Jen­nie, Sarah and Grace McGinn, started Opsh, an on­line mar­ket­place for high­street fash­ion and re­ceived hun­dreds of thou­sands of euro in fund­ing in three years.

Opsh se­cured €25,000 start-up fund­ing from En­ter­prise Ire­land in 2014 through the Com­pet­i­tive Start Fund and an­other €25,000 in 2015. The State agency fol­lowed up with a fur­ther €250,000 in 2015, for a to­tal tax­payer in­vest­ment of €300,000.

In 2015 Opsh also raised €336,000 from a com­pany con­trolled by Brett Pa­los, step­son of Top­shop founder Philip Green. In 2015 the com­pany was liq­ui­dated with debts of €894,124 af­ter two years’ trad­ing. Ac­counts for the year the busi­ness was liq­ui­dated show that salaries and di­rec­tors’ pay had hit €276,544, up from €96,981 the pre­vi­ous year. At the time, the sis­ters spoke in a state­ment of their ‘great sad­ness’ at the fail­ure of com­pany.

‘Ul­ti­mately we fell vic­tim to the no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult in­vest­ment chasm – the chasm that ex­ists when a sparky start-up needs to move into a global-look­ing ma­chine,’ they wrote.

Now, they have em­barked on a new ven­ture Sis­ter The Agency, which prom­ises to ‘ac­cel­er­ate your busi­ness’. They of­fer work­shops for small­busi­ness own­ers that, ac­cord­ing to their web­site, cover brand­ing, busi­ness mod­el­ling, best prac­tices in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and ecom­merce. The sis­ters would not com­ment.

Debts: Grace, Jen­nie and Sarah McGinn whose fash­ion web­site Opsh failed

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