Bianca Divito is an Arklow based stained glass designer and conservator. Her work in glass includes glass art commissions in private homes and public spaces, as well as conservation of medieval church glass. Her latest innovation in glass art is the production of bespoke glass ornaments and panels for garden decoration, which led the Royal Horticultural Society to invite Bianca to exhibit at the renowned Chelsea Flower Show this month. Many thanks to Bianca for taking the time out to speak to us when she is so busy getting ready to head over to England. We wish Bianca the very best of luck at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show!
What led you to starting your business?
I have always had a passion for glass design and creation and doing anything other than was not an option. I identified a gap in the market for expert stained glass conservation / contemporary glass art and decided to invest all my energies into setting up my own art based business.
How did you raise the start-up funds you needed?
Personal savings, a business overdraft and a start up grant from Wicklow County Enterprise Board.
What was the most significant lesson you learned in starting your business?
I was quick to invest in certain assets as I thought that I just “had to have” them but in actual fact over time and as the business developed, they turned out to be fairly useless! I would advise anyone starting up to take their time and build up as they go along.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read, business or non-business?
Blaise Brosnan’s “You are the Limiting Factor.” The book is a great reference especially for me as I completed The Owner Manager Business Development Programme with him. I couldn’t recommend the man highly enough!
Who is the entrepreneur you admire the most?
Jamie Oliver, he seems to have a great recipe for success!
What have been the biggest challenges in your business to date?
Finding the capital to fund new projects. Everything is on a shoestring budget at the moment and it is driving me mad!
What has been the proudest moment in your business so far?
Impressing the Head of the Royal Horticultural Society with my glass and crystal creations during what was essentially a chance meeting! He invited me there and then to exhibit in The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012.
What was the best piece of business advice you ever got?
Know what your “Key Money” is- basically what it costs you everyday to run your business even before you put the key in the door!
Can you recommend a good time management technique for other entrepreneurs out there?
I’m afraid I cannot- I’m probably the world’s worst business owner with regards to time management. Far too many nights / very early mornings are spent catching up on everything I was supposed to cover the day/week before.
What magazine do you never miss each month?
One form of trashy magazine or another- they are my guilty pleasure and they are wonderful for taking my mind off work!
What is your favourite film?
What is your favourite ad?
I particularly enjoy the Meerkat adverts – simples!
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business?
I often speak to transition year students and I always tell them the same thing – if you get the right help/advice and you are totally motivated, you really can turn your passion into a viable business. I always tell them that I couldn’t imagine how awful it would be to be working everyday at something I didn’t love.
What do you like to do when you’re not running your business?
I love to walk and exercise in general. Catching up with friends every so often is great for the soul too.
Have you found the self-employed formula for a work/life balance?
Honestly, I find it difficult to strike a good balance as I’m often preoccupied with work. However, my partner who is also self-employed is trying his best to help me break bad habits i.e. checking emails, wrapping glass etc. during “down time”!
What’s your website?
Do you have a Facebook page?
Are you on Twitter?
How has Wicklow CEB helped you and/or your business?
Financially, they have really helped me over the years with various grants etc. And most importantly, I always know that they are there, at the other end of the phone line, offering support and advice when I need it!
If you could start up all over again, would you do anything differently?
No, I wouldn’t change anything really as there is no point looking backwards…it’s onwards and upwards from here!
Bianca Divito’s work is available through her website and at Damien Keane’s studio at Mount Usher Gardens in Ashford, Co. Wicklow. She will be appearing at the Chelsea Flower Show from 22nd until 26th May 2012 and often exhibits at the annual Art Ireland show in the RDS, Dublin.