Ian Kelly - You Design

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You Design works with private customers, interior designers and furniture stores to create bespoke, finely crafted one-off furniture pieces and collections to suit any room, in any home. You Design also works with start-ups and existing companies to design and create working drawings, prototypes and small scale production for furniture ranges and products. You Design can also manage over-seas mass production and bring products from small scale production into mass production. We are for you. You DesignIan Kelly


What led you to starting your business? I have always wanted to be my own boss. I want to create the job I want and create that environment for future employees instead of working under someone else’s regime.

How did you raise the start-up funds you needed? Initially I needed machinery so my father bought machinery from a retiring cabinet maker. One of the saws is from the 1940s, so very old machinery but absolutely perfect and after that I slowly started to accumulate different machines I needed.

What’s the best business book you’ve ever read?  Truthfully, the last book I read was for my leaving cert. I’m just not a big fan of reading.

Who is the entrepreneur you admire the most?  Dieter Rams, he’s not an entrepreneur so it doesn’t really answer your question but he is considered to be the god father of design. A true genius – look him up.

What have been the biggest challenges in your business to date?  At the moment I am a one man band so I have to manage everything. Bookkeeping to designing to making to marketing –it can be tough delegating my time in the right areas.

What has been the proudest moment in your business so far?  My very first commission was a hall bench. It was a very nice piece and when I delivered it and put it in its place the customer was quite shocked and said “God bless your hands”. That was a good day.

What was the best piece of business advice you ever got?  Pay yourself first and pay yourself well.

Can you recommend a good time management technique for other entrepreneurs out there?  Google calander – it controls my life.

What magazine do you never miss each month?  This brings me back to my previous point about reading. . .

What is your favourite film? The Rock. There’s much better out there but I have a soft spot for that one.

What is your favourite ad - on TV, radio or viral? Remember that promotional video that was done for the gathering? That was something quite special.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business?  Don’t think just do it. Spending your time thinking is a waste of time.

What do you like to do when you're not running your business?  Any hobbies?  I go to the gym. There is a lot to be learned here with regards to running a business in the gym. I find it is the quickest way to truly see that after failure comes a gain. Keep pushing through, you’ll get there.

Have you found the self-employed formula for a work/life balance?  What is it?!  I found google calandar – that decides my work/life balance.

What's your website?  Tell us your address: 

Do you have a Facebook page?  Let us know what it is.  

Are you on Twitter?  Nope

How has LEO Wicklow helped you and/or your business?  I got the priming grant and I was shortlisted for Irelands Best Young Entrepreneur which provided a lot of mentoring which has taught me an awful lot.

If you could start up all over again, would you do anything differently?  I think I would have reached out more – asked more people for help. I took everything on and only later did I see how close help was and how right a lot people were. I would have also liked to have kept a more open mind to everything instead of focusing so early on. Anyway, onwards and upwards.

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