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11th Jul 2023

The Habit Store’s Rosie Joyce on how winning Visa’s She’s Next Grant Programme transformed her business

In paid partnership with Visa.

As Visa’s She’s Next Grant Programme launched for the third consecutive year in Ireland, we caught up with one of the winners from 2021, Rosie Joyce, owner of The Habit Store.

There’s no denying that Ireland is home to some incredible women-led businesses. Our country’s landscape is being shaped by innovators, entrepreneurs and change-makers, and one company in particular is keen to back these incredible women.

Through Visa’s She’s Next Grant Programme, Visa works to transform women-led businesses. Winners of the programme receive a €10,000 grant to take their company to the next level, as well as invaluable coaching from some industry leaders.

Applications for this year’s Visa’s She’s Next Grant Programme are currently open, and if you were looking for a reason to submit an application, look no further than Rosie Joyce, who won it back in 2021.

Inspired by her desire to help people reduce their plastic use and food waste, Rosie kickstarted her business as a small market stall. Today, she is the proud owner of The Habit Store, a brick and mortar shop in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, where customers can use their own containers to buy and refill goods.

The Habit Store stocks a huge range of goods including spices, grains, dried fruit, eggs, snacks, herbs, pasta and rice. Her customers, meanwhile, are equally varied.

“Our customers range from a very excited four-year-old who is just after learning to weigh the containers and write the numbers on it, up to elderly people in their 80s who remember shopping in this type of way when they were small,” Rosie tells Her. “It really is that diverse in ages. We’re very lucky, we get all types of ages and people.”

As a business owner, each day looks completely different to Rosie.

“I do everything from cleaning to restocking to ordering to researching to managing social media and the website. I’m very lucky in that my partner helps behind the scenes, like with the bookkeeping and all the accounts that I do not have the head for,” Rosie explains.

“Every day is very different depending on who comes in. Obviously, the customer is very important, so I’m serving people and refilling containers. Quite often we have new people coming in, so you have to explain everything to them about how it works and get them excited about reducing their plastic. It’s quite an engaging role. I’m constantly chatting with people or engaging with people online. It’s a very busy, fun and interactive role.”

In the early days of setting up the business with her partner Alex, Rosie felt that time was very much on her side.

At the beginning it felt so right,” Rosie says. “The timing was perfect. We opened in the middle of lockdown when doing your weekly shop was the height of your social activity. It felt really natural and really easy. We used to joke like, ‘We should be freaking out now’, but it felt so perfect for me. It didn’t scare me.”

As a proud recipient of Visa’s She’s Next Grant Programme, Rosie’s business is growing steadily, thanks to the grant, and the year’s worth of business coaching she received.

“As the business is growing, my goals are getting bigger. Now I see what we can achieve, it’s just getting the message out there to more people and educating them.”

Finding out that she won the programme was an emotional experience.

“I just started bawling crying,” Rosie recalls. “It came at a time, when we had a lot of overheads to pay, and we’ve got to fill a shop and there’s a lot more pressure than just doing a market stall. Winning that was very emotional. It was incredible to see a company like Visa recognise a very small person in the west of Ireland doing something quite new. It was really exciting, like we’ve got this money now, I can invest in new stock and finish a few things in the shop that we hadn’t had the funds to do when we first opened, so it was such an amazing beginning to 2022.”

The coaching, Rosie notes, was also transformative.

“The mentors were so skilled. What they were able to achieve with us in 30 minutes was incredible.”

Throughout the programme, Rosie recalls one very important piece of business advice.

“Knowing what drives you is the most important thing,” she says. “You can have a great idea, and you can have the money to set it up, and you can have all the support in the world, but unless you know why you’re doing it there’s no point. There are going to be tough days, but you need to understand what your end goal is.”

Rosie’s end goal is quite simple.

“For me, that’s reducing plastic, helping people reduce food waste, helping people think differently about how they’re spending their money. Reducing plastic, food waste, and connecting with people is really important, that’s where I get my energy from.”

Connecting with her diverse customers also motivates her to keep going.

“I’m really lucky that I get to deal with a lot of people from so many different countries and backgrounds. That’s my driving force.”

About Visa’s She’s Next Programme

Visa is empowering women across the Republic of Ireland to grow their business by offering five €10,000 grants plus coaching through Visa’s She’s Next Grant Programme. T&Cs apply. Apply by 21st of JulyLearn more right here.