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Meet the Future Shapers : A conversation with Ciara O’Keeffe, Beautiful Goodbyes

We love to share stories from past entrepreneurial students of Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace. Here we chat to Ciara O’Keeffe who owns Beautiful Goodbyes. Ciara recently completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship, having started with a nugget of an idea that has now become the journey of her life. Ciara’s Urn design business gives people the opportunity to select and personalise their final resting place with bespoke artwork designed to reflect and celebrate their life. We find out what has inspired her and how the course has helped her on her future journey.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

I've been a ceramic artist, teaching and making, for the past 20 years, having graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design in 1999. I've created works for the President of Ireland Mary McAleese, the Chilean Ambassador to Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs to name a few. My work has been published in many articles worldwide including the Texas-based publication Voyagehouston.com and the Croatian publication ‘Who's who in Visual Art 2018/2019’. I was awarded a Certificate of Excellence 2018/2019 from the Arts and Crafts Design awards. I've exhibited in galleries in Ireland and the Saatchi Gallery in London.

My business is Beautiful Goodbyes, a bespoke Urn design service that gives people the opportunity to select and personalise their final resting place with bespoke artwork designed to reflect and celebrate their life. As the French Philosopher Paul Ricoeur said "To be forgotten is to die twice".

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What has inspired you to do what you do?

Since the first day I handled clay I was hooked. I am so grateful to wake up every day and look forward to going to work. Clay has so many positive qualities on many different levels. I am a born storyteller....some would say that’s another way of saying I talk too much! Either way, I tell a story using clay as my vehicle. Everyone has a story and I just tell them a little differently. I love making pieces of bespoke art in the form of urns, story bowls and one off memory pieces. I'm honoured to be trusted with creating a personal legacy that will last forever.

When did you first hear about the Tangent Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship course and why did it attract your interest?

I was browsing through Facebook and I saw the ad for Tangent. It was the first time I saw a course with the words creative and entrepreneurship in the one sentence. This instantly made me click on it to find out more. I had been looking and hoping for a course like this for years. I read the details and I knew I had to learn more. The rest is history.

Did you have any reservations about applying?

The only thing that put me off was the amount of people that were attending each of the information nights. I was convinced that because of the huge interest I would lose out on a place.

What you did enjoy most about the Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship course?

There are lots of positives. I used to say every Monday and Wednesday nights' sessions were my gift to myself. I loved the excitement of learning about "Stuff" that I could actually apply to myself and my business. I was learning tools every single night, and turning them round and applying them to my fledgeling business. Also, being surrounded by other creatives was an invaluable resource. Gaining knowledge from other people who have travelled the same road as you and have shared experiences was and is hugely beneficial on a personal and business level.

What were you key takeaways?

Having 60 other creatives to tap into is a priceless resource. I've learned so much about how to use my Social Media, Photography,etc..to market and push my brand. I learned that Failing is an important part of learning. Failing forward is something that I've accepted is all part of the entrepreneurial adventure. I can’t believe that I've just learned about the LBMC, vital for any business. Finding my ideal customer and what problem I was trying to solve were my most important takeaways from the course.

How has the course most helped you & your business?

The course has given me confidence in so many ways. The realisation that I am not alone in my entrepreneurial journey gave me great comfort. The class had the same questions to be answered and the same problems which was good to know. The course has completely changed my life. I was in a creative black hole. The course gave me back the fire in my belly. The excitement of creating and learning awoke something in me that pushed me to do what I've only ever dreamed about and never thought it was possible. In six months and all thanks to Tangent, I have created a business plan, designed a website, created 4 types of social media platforms and launched my own business. Even I can't believe all that and it was all done during a pandemic!!!!!!!!

What are your ambitions for the future?

I am hopeful that my business www.beautifulgoodbyes.ie will start to grow and that I can work at the business on a full time basis. I want to change peoples’ perceptions around cremation Urns and show them that my Forever Homes are beautiful and fitting for someone they love. I'd love the business to grow so that I could hire a young person that maybe didn't get the chance to go to art college and train them up.

Is there anything you would like to add for anyone reading this?

I would advise anyone thinking of applying for this course to stop thinking about it and just sign up. When I signed up I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, I had a nugget of an idea. Today that nugget is a reality and I'm embarking on the journey of my life....

It’s fantastic to see someone’s dreams start to materialise and we look forward to watching Ciara’s continued success. If you are interested in finding out more about Beautiful Goodbyes, visit www.beautifulgoodbyes.ie or follow Ciara on Instagram or Facebook.