Portlaoise Parlour scoops the top prize at Laois business awards

The Laois final contestants of Irelands Best Young Entrepreneurs pictured with officials during last week's awards held in the Killenard Heritage Hotel.       Pic: Kevin Byrne
At an exciting awards ceremony held on Thursday, October 2 in the Heritage Hotel, Killenard, David Finn of “The Parlour” was crowned Laois’ Best Young Entrepreneur 2014.

At an exciting awards ceremony held on Thursday, October 2 in the Heritage Hotel, Killenard, David Finn of “The Parlour” was crowned Laois’ Best Young Entrepreneur 2014.

The competition, with a total prize fund of €50,000 was organised by the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Laois as part of the National Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) initiative.

Beating off stiff competition in the Best Start Up Business category, David’s business is based on the development of a chain of new-age blow-dry salons in Ireland and beyond. The Parlour was opened in August 2013 and is one of the first of blow-dry bars of its type in Europe. David was presented with a trophy and more importantly a business investment from LEO Laois of €20,000 which he will use to further expand his business in Irish and international markets.

Heidi Higgins of Heidi Higgins Fashion Designer won the Best Established Business Category. The Heidi Higgins brand is located in the middle range market of the Irish fashion designer industry. It grew from a one woman door to door business to a well established national brand name with a flagship boutique with 10 selected prestigious boutiques including Brown Thomas. The prize fund of €20,000 for the Best Established Business will be used by Heidi in Research & Development, Product Diversification and Marketing.

Mary Rose Simpson won the Best New Idea Category with her business idea My Ladybug, a monthly subscription service that delivers women their “time of month” products coupled with sweets and treats each month. For the customers convenience the parcel is delivered straight through the letterbox, custom to women’s needs and cycle. The prize fund of €10,000 for the Best Idea will be used by Mary Rose to bring her idea to market.

The nine finalists were selected from 30 entries. Each of the finalists participated in an intensive 3 day boot camp in August, which was followed up by individual mentoring sessions. Each finalist submitted a business plan as part of the competition, made a five minute pitch to a panel of judges. which was followed by a question and answer session.

Speaking at the ceremony, Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Cllr John Joe Fennelly said: “The aim of the IBYE initiative is to encourage and support a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in Ireland, to promote entrepreneurship as a career choice, and to encourage the establishment and development of new innovative businesses by Ireland’s young entrepreneurs,” he said.

He said the council is committed to supporting enterprise,

“We in Laois County Council, through the new Local Enterprise Office, are committed to doing all we can to support the development of enterprise in County Laois.

“This is hugely important for job-creation as two thirds of all new jobs are generated by businesses in the first five years of existence – more start-ups and a thriving entrepreneurial culture will lead to more jobs being created,” said Cllr Fennelly.

The Regional heats for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur take place in Mullingar on October 22, with the National Final in Dublin in December.