It was terrifying’
experiences led her to create the product @Lisa_j _Smyth
the smell in the house when you walk in.
“I really enjoy that side of things but there is also a lot of paperwork and that takes up a lot of time.
“If I sell something I have to be able to say exactly where I got each ingredient that is used in the cream or bar.”
Betty currently sells her products at a variety of fairs and markets, but she has become more selective when it comes to choosing which event to attend.
“I try to go to places where all the products that are being sold are handmade so people know that I am not selling something that is bulk made,” says Betty.
“The first time I did a market I found the whole experience terrifying.
“I sat behind the table and waited for people to come to me and then I realised that I had to approach potential customers.
“I remember the first time I asked someone if they wanted to try one of my creams and they said ‘no’, I was absolutely mortified.
“I don’t take it personally now though, I just understand that not everyone is interested in buying something from me.”
Betty now relishes the interaction with customers — and she gets particular satisfaction that she is selling something she has created and produced herself.
“I can’t describe the buzz,” she says.
“It feels even better when it is a repeat customer.”
As a start-up business with no marketing budget, Betty relies heavily upon word of mouth and social media when it comes to advertising her products.
“Facebook and Instagram have been essential,” she says.
“I didn’t really have much experience of either beforehand and I actually had to have help to set up my Instagram account, but they are so important to get your message out there.”
She has also turned to businesspeople at the fairs and markets she attends to pick up tips and advice. And she is now part of the current intake at the Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator programme. “It has been such wonderful help so far and I feel very lucky to be a part of it,” she says. “You get such wonderful support and you get to meet all sorts of other people with a range of experience, which is so important when you are setting up your own business. “One of the first things I had to do was a pitch and I was up the whole night before practising because it was so important to me that I prove I had the right to be there.”
Despite this, A Blissful Blend is not Betty’s first experience of the business world. After leaving school, she started off her working life employed as a bank official.
“It was a different world back then and I remember going to the career adviser in school and telling them that I wanted to work in the bank and being told that girls from secondary schools didn’t get a job in the bank, only people from grammar school worked in a bank,” says Betty.
“That only made me more determined, that’s the way I have always been throughout my life, if someone tells me I can’t do something I work harder to achieve my goal.
“I did get a job in the bank and I stayed there until I had my children when I took a career break.
“I have four daughters and once they grew up a bit I went back to the bank, but I subsequently had a break down and ended up leaving.
“I can laugh about it now, but at the time I dealt with what was going on by going out to the garden and digging and I joke that I am lucky I didn’t end up in Australia.”
After leaving her job, Betty set up pottery studio Seaside Ceramics in 2002.
“Setting up a business for the first time was definitely a challenge, I made so many mistakes and probably the biggest of these was the fact that there are givers and takers in this world and I am a giver,” she says.
“But I learned a lot along the way — it can be difficult when you start up your business because you think that you should do whatever you’re asked by a customer, but I learned to say no and I really enjoyed it.”
The business flourished but she was forced to pull down the shutters in 2010 as a result of her mother’s ill health.
“I was told she only had a few months to live so something had to give as I was working 24/7 at the time and, of course, it was always going to be my business,” says Betty.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision and I didn’t regret it at all.
“Then my four daughters all got married in 2014 and after that I started to wonder what I was going to do with myself.
“I felt like I was Betty the mum, Betty the nana, but that part of me who worked and ran a business didn’t exist anymore, which is why I am enjoying myself so much now.
“Ultimately, I would love to sell my products in shops and I do have some ideas of how I am going to achieve that.
“However, what is most important to me is that I am loving every minute of what I am doing.”
Next week, the Big Interview speaks to Jannine Waddell, managing director of Waddell Media
I would love to sell my products in shops and I do have some ideas of how I am going to achieve that