This is Galway: In the first of our series of interviews with some of Galway’s local business owners, we sat down with Pat Delaney. Pat is the owner and founder of Mala , a retail store based on Mainguard Street in Galway that sells stylish, quality leather bags for men and women.
Mála Galway – Pat Delaney
Q. Why did you choose Galway as the location for opening your business?
A. I suppose the short answer to that is because we live here; but, It’s a great bonus being in Galway. Galway has always been a little bit left of centre and I think we do things a little differently west of the Shannon. Galway has always been open to new concepts and ideas. The college’s and tourists here tend to keep things fresh and exciting. We love that.
Q. What is it that defines Mála? And what sets it aside from other similar businesses?
A. Mmmm I think it’s because we care. Now I know that sounds a bit cliched but it’s true. What we do is pretty simple here, we offer top quality stylish leather goods that we hope our customers find desirable. The bit that requires the caring is keeping an eye on our suppliers to ensure quality of goods is maintained and always ensuring that any new lines coming into our shop are to the standards that our customers expect. We guarantee everything we sell here and that keeps us on our toes. If a product fails to deliver, our guarantee ensures that, rather than our customer suffering the consequences, we do.
Q. Why bags?
A. Why not? We love selling quality and we love getting deep into an industry. By selling bags and bags only, it allows us to stay focused. It also allows us to see new innovations within the industry and to hear all the latest news. If someone has made a boo boo, made a run of high quality leather bags but the quality officer fails to spot that the stitching is not locked, we hear about that. The reason we do, is that it’s our business to. Spreading yourself across hundreds of different product lines leads to quality issues not being picked up. That’s our two cents on it anyway.
Q. Do you have any other branches in other cities/towns? If not, do you have plans to expand geographically or online?
A. Lordy I’m not sure if I’d have any hair left to pull out if I opened another shop. I think for us, expansion will be online. We have made a commitment to be on the High Street in Galway because it offers our online customers a place to interact in real time with us and our products. We are currently redesigning our website; www.malagalway.com so we look forward to seeing some new innovations which will give our customers a more immersive social online shopping experience. Lets see how it goes…
Q. You pride yourselves on the quality of the bags that you sell. What makes them so good? And what’s the difference between your bags and what you would buy in the likes of Topshop or New Look?
A. It’s back to the quality thing. I’m not saying others do not provide quality; of course they do. But, I feel it’s our consistency of quality that will help us push on in the coming years.
Q. What are your best selling bags for men and women at the moment?
A. How long is a piece of string! It changes from one day to the next. Although, we are seeing a big liking for distressed leather this year. I call it casual quality.
Q. Running your own business can sometimes be a thankless task. What is it that gets you motivated and up out of bed in the morning?
A. I love it. I love shopping myself and that’s what i spend a lot of my time doing here at Mála. I love seeing new products coming on stream and love meeting new people with new ideas. Some mornings I don’t get out of bed, but that’s okay every now and again.
Q. What are the biggest misconceptions that people have about you crazy entrepreneurs?
A. I suppose the biggest misconceptions some people make about entrepreneurs is that if they make it, that it was somehow easy, or if someone is successful, that they somehow got lucky. Luck plays a massive part in everything everybody does. There is no one running a successful business in 2015 who is not living and breathing their business 24/7.
Q. What is the best thing about being in business for yourself, and is it true that all entrepreneurs are certifiable?
A. For me it’s the adrenalin and the gamble. Does it make me certifiable? Possibly. Every day you go in to work it’s a gamble, you never know what’s going to happen.
Q. What is your favourite thing about Galway, and what is it about Galway that people love so much?
A. Galway is the most glorified village in Ireland, in a good way. The colleges and the tourists keep things bohemian and fresh and there’s always something happening. I love the way Galway is small enough to be local and to have a local. Everybody knows everybody.
Q. Apart from your own, what are your favourite businesses in Galway? Where do you like to eat, drink and shop?
A. Eat…that little pizza place on cross street…damnit what’s the name of it….Pizza Napoli, that’s the one!
Drink…Are you buying?
Q. If you could impart some valuable knowledge for future entrepreneurs what would it be?
A. Cashflow…..watch that. (big time). Plan ahead to when you will be charging V.A.T, it will impact your cashflow. Work, sleep, repeat. Plan for a lot of that and nothing else for at lea