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Building a small business in Dublin 7

Loon Kaboon is a sustainable prints and illustration business that opened in Smithfield last year, selling handmade prints online and at Dublin craft markets.

What started as a lockdown project to alleviate boredom has since turned into a small business. Designer Natalie Finegan’s Loon Kaboon is outcome of how she approaches making illustrations.

Photo Credit: Loon Kaboon. Natalie Finegan of Loon Kaboon

“When I have an idea I run with it straight away, and if I can’t start illustrating in the moment, I will write a little note on the theme and design ideas I want to go with,” she says.

Her predesigned prints of landmarks, pop culture, people and quotes can take “anywhere from a few hours to three or four weeks to create”, she adds.

“I obviously do a happy dance every single time I get an order – and meeting new people is amazing.”

-NATALIE FINEGAN, LOON KABOON OWNER

Finegan must combine being a small business owner, a freelance graphic designer and a marketer. She tries to keep her early mornings and late afternoons for illustrating and letting ‘inspiration strike’.

Recently, Loon Kaboon launched its first proper Christmas card range, complete with 21 different designs. Finegan explains the range took around about a month and a half to design, “to such a point that I loved and thought everyone else would love them too. I wanted enough designs to cater to every recipient.” 

Photo Credit: Loon Kaboon, Christmas card collection

The business also does custom commissions. Finegan says she tries to ensure any commissions are done as quickly as possible to ensure they are ready in time for the special occasions her customers have requested them for.

As well as creating a design unique to each buyer, Finegan also handprints and package every print herself. These take around 3 to 5 business days depending on details. “I also print, cut, mount and package all the cards individually, and these take 1-2 days to complete from printing to drying to postage.”

Although, the work of a small business owner can be time consuming and strenuous, Finegan explained there are many positives to being able to sell her art and interacting with her customers.

“I obviously do a happy dance every single time I get an order – and meeting new people is amazing.”

Chatting to customers about something she is so passionate about and for them to be interested in it is quite a validating feeling, she says. 

Recently she got a request to do three of her Hyne’s Bar Stoneybatter prints and three of her Mulligan’s Stoneybatter prints from the ‘On the Batter’ series, for a Dublin 7 local whose grandad actually owned the pubs back in the day.

“Having people buy my prints to evoke family memories – remind them of things that are special, and add to a collection is a really fantastic part of being a small business owner,” she added.

Small business in Ireland have been growing in numbers in recent years, due to the lockdowns, boredom or people just taking up new hobbies. Finegan says there is a sense of camaraderie between small businesses in Ireland. Cocktail bar MeMa’s on Parnell Street recently hosted a Christmas Market for small local businesses to trade.

“Having a support network of pubs and other cultural institutions that allow small businesses like Loon Kaboon to showcase products is honestly invaluable to small business owners.”

PhotoCredit: Loon Kaboon at MeMa’s Market 2021

As Christmas approaches, the initiative to shop local and Irish is a campaign that has been encouraged in recent years around Ireland.

“You can gift consciously and confidently knowing you’re giving someone a carefully curated, handmade or high-quality gift,” Finegan says.

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