Improper Butter Case Study

Q&A with Elaine Lavery and Hannah O'Reilly founders of Improper Butter 


Improper Butter Image   

  1. Tell us about your business. 

Improper Butter is a range of garlic and herb cooking butters that melt a pop of fresh flavour through all your favourite dishes. We have combined Ireland’s finest commodity, grass fed butter with the finest herbs and natural ingredients. Our butter contains just two ingredients, butter and salt, providing one of the purest and most natural sources of fat - an essential macronutrient in all our diets. By adding fresh flavour to our butter – we make you a great cook too!

  1. How has Local Enterprise Office Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown supported your business to date? Which support(s) has been most beneficial to you and your business?

We have received a number of supports from the Local Enterprise Office Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown: 

  • When we first approached in 2013 we received a business mentor who was an invaluable source of information when we thought we knew it all, but in fact knew nothing!
  • In the early days we also received a Feasability study grant, which enabled us to test the viability of our product in the marketplace.
  • Most proudly, in 2014 we won  'Best Start-up Business' in Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (IBYE). This was an incredible validation of our business, providing essential financial support and further media exposure.
  1. What is your best sales tip?
  • Hannah: Really believing in your product/service is probably the best sales tip we have. We are proud of our product because we know it’s such a high quality offering to the marketplace. Selling something you truly believe in is an easy task.
  • Elaine: There is a great Ted Talk by American businessman Bill Gross ‘The Single Biggest Reasons Why Start-ups Succeed’. Spoiler - his finding is ‘timing’. If you have a faultless product and the timing is right, the rest falls into place.
  1. What was the best business advice you have received?

Hannah: “Don’t be a busy fool”. It’s too easy to say yes to everyone and everything in the early days of starting your own business but it leads to a strain on time and a lack of focus. These days we are trying to be more efficient with our time.

  1. How did you raise the finance for your business?

We have grown the business organically for the most part. However, from day one we made ourselves aware of the financial supports available to start-ups and have availed of some of these, such as the Local Enterprise Office feasibility study grant and Bord Bia’s Marketing Assistance Grant for food businesses. We believe in the principles of the lean start up. What we lack in resources, we make up for in innovation.

  1.  What are the best digital tools you have used to grow your business? 

The food industry is pretty tradtional – you can’t download food yet! However we are big into social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are really important for building brand awareness. They also allow us to have direct and ongoing dialogue with our customers – invaluable.  

  1.  What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? 

Elaine & Hannah: Find yourself a great partner. We are fortunate that our business partnership developed naturally from a friendship but having that other person beside you makes everything more focused, productive and fun. We don’t know where we’d be without each other!

Many thanks to Improper Butter for taking part in this interview!

For more information on Improper Butter you can visit their website at:

You can also get the latest news and updates on their social media sites at:

Improper Butter Facebook 

Improper Butter Twitter

Improper Butter Instagram

If you would like to find out how your Local Enterprise Office can help you start or grow your own business, please visit our website on, call us on 01 204 7083 or simply stop by our office in Harbour Square, Dún Laoghaire.