Caroline O'Neill- DIGG Childrenswear

I opened DIGG Childrenswear in Dungannon Co Tyrone in 2008. Now, celebrating our eleventh year in business, we are one of the leading kids wear retailers in Ireland. Wow, I feel so proud to make that statement and don't get me wrong, it has taken me a long time to be able to say it with confidence. 
 
Life for me has changed so much since 2008. I am now a wife and mum of two boys and DIGG Childrenswear has became a brand name known throughout Ireland.
 
This hasn’t been an easy eleven years and I would never sugar coat it when people ask me how my business journey has been.
 
Back in 2008 before social media and websites my little shop in Dungannon performed pretty well. I had a steady flow of customers and even though it was the “recession” there were people on the streets and there was money to be spent.
 
However, over the years especially since 2015 I began to notice a change. A change in my business all due to the emerging growth of the digital world.
 
"DIGG needs to be online" was what I was hearing from family members and other people in the industry and so I made the huge leap and launched my website at the beginning of 2017. 
 
What a shock to the system this was. I was naive enough to think that my website would immediately generate sales and that it would more or less run itself once it was established.
 
I faced so many challenges. I shed so many tears. I am being honest in saying that there were many times I wanted to give up. I couldn’t give up. I had worked too hard.
 
I made a decision to educate myself on all things digital.
This was such a huge challenge. I am an Occupational Therapist by profession, a shop owner and a people person.
 
I knew absolutely nothing about Google, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media, Blogs and everything that is needed to make your website a success.
 
I began to attend events which covered all of these topics and it was during this time I met Niamh Taylor from Digital Twenty Four. What a woman she is and I have her to thank for giving me the knowledge and the confidence to attack the digital world head on.  
 
Generating sales within my shop environment has never been an issue due to our excellent product, customer service and our unique styling service which we offer to each and every customer when they walk through our doors.
I have certainly struggled with trying to bring all of these things to our online store. How do I have a personality when people can't speak to me or see me?  Social Media has changed my business dramatically for the better. There are many negative opinions on the use of social media however I am a firm believer that if it is used in the right way it can turn your business from just existing to thriving.
 
My bricks and mortar shop continues to perform at a higher level than my online store, however, it has taken me eleven years to achieve this success. I now see, almost 2 years after launching my website, that it could possibly take almost as long to develop my online presence and that fact, I am now willing to accept.
 
It took hard work, self-learning, vision, and determination to get DIGG Childrenswear Dungannon to where it is today and it will take every one of those qualities to bring our digital footprint to the same level.
 
One of my most proudest achievements to date is winning the Chartered Institute of Marketing Award for best Retail Campaign 2018. DIGG Childrenswear beat off stiff competition from some of the biggest names in retail such as Marks & Spencers.
I still can’t quite believe it but I keep that award on my desk and everyday it reminds me that small business owners can create a huge impact on a small budget if they think outside the box, care for their customers more than the profits and have a never give up attitude.
 
I am also very proud of my DIGG For Success work. This takes the form of events and workshops which I organise all over the country to educate small businesses on the skills they need to succeed in todays digital world.
 
So that’s just a little of my story. If you would like to follow the sometimes crazy world of DIGG Childrenswear and DIGG For Success then add us on Instagram:diggchildrenswear / diggforsuccess and follow us on Facebook for daily updates on all things DIGG.