By Eric Brennan
Owner, Core Homestore
I met Sabine (who is Dutch) in Australia in 2000, and thereafter moved to Netherlands with her. After a number of years in Netherlands, we became involved in the mattress business through a friend involved in Hotels. I became intrigued by the use of natural fibres in bedding, and the movement towards using chemical-free, eco and sustainable materials. These materials are recommended to anyone suffering from asthma and allergies. They are also recommended to people who have undergone chemotherapy, adapting to the sensitivities of the skin. Combinations of Natural Latex, Coir Fibre, Organic Cotton and Pure New Wool in mattresses was a very Continental European approach and I had never heard of such materials being used in Ireland. We further researched the area and got to know the leading supplier of these components for the European Market.
There is a broad range of individuals who seek out these materials, seeing the direct benefits that they offer. One group includes those that strive to use environmentally friendly and sustainable materials throughout their homes and lifestyle. Others are those who are seeking clean, healthy and chemical-free materials. They offer full orthopaedic spine support and, as the size and levels of firmness within a mattress can be customised, we can now meet the requirements of individuals with back problems or sports injuries.
After our first daughter, Orla Roos, was born in Holland we decided to move back to Ireland and open up a shop specialising in Natural Fibre mattresses. To simplify, we decided to take on a franchise and eventually set up in my hometown, Galway, towards the end of 2008.
Unfortunately, we were very constrained by the franchise and were unable to adapt to the market conditions here. I took the early decision to move away from the franchise and set out on our own. A difficult decision, but I believed strongly that if we had full control on how we ran the business, we could be successful. I spent most of that year travelling throughout Europe and the East to source the best suppliers of natural fibres and equipment that we required so we could set up production ourselves here in Galway.
Our aim was to create an Irish brand of natural fibre bedding, made in Galway, offering a clean, healthy, luxurious and orthopaedic mattress to the Irish consumer. All our mattresses are bespoke so we can cater to any shape, size and level of depth and firmness of mattress. In Jan 2010 (just after our 2nd daughter Emer Zee was born), we opened our new showroom here in Galway under the name Core Homestore, and Core Natural Sleep as our brand of mattresses and bedding.
I also had a great desire to work with local people, which we were unable to do under the constraints of the franchise. Now all our hardwood furniture is made locally in Galway using only Irish wood, allowing us to adapt to the wishes and desires of our customers. The covers for our mattresses are also made here in the West, using a small company that do all our stitching. We also offer our showroom to local artists to display their works and so far have had 3 exhibitions this year and another planned for October.
Currently we are a small operation, getting great help from family and friends to help us through our start-up phase. We sell through our showroom here in Galway and on our website, offering free nationwide delivery. We have even had a couple of sales to the US as a result of people finding us on the internet. We are also looking at the hotel market and testing materials suitable to the medical sector, i.e. hospitals, nursing homes etc. We are in the process of moving to a bigger facility to cope with greater production requirements and hope to take on a number of staff before the end of the year. We are at the beginning of a great journey and believe strongly that we have a unique and high quality offering for the Irish consumer and have the ability to grow a successful national business.
For more info, visit www.core-homestore.ie