It’s 2019 and after a short hiatus over the Christmas and New Year break I’m bringing back the Flourishing Entrepreneurs interview series.
I’ve loved the feedback I’ve got from you guys on this series and how nipping behind the scenes and digging deep on business owners is really helping you with some of your own journeys too.
From this year I’m going to be focusing on featuring wellness business owners. That’s because these are the people that I am helping in my coaching business, the audience I’m most speaking to on social media and because these are the stories I think will help you balance health and wellness with running a business as an entrepreneur.
I’m also (shock horror!) not only going to be featuring women in this series.
I haven't ever really specified that I only work with women - and certainly in my coaching I also work with male wellness business owners too.
I actually think it’s really important (and totally legit!) that we can learn from wellness entrepreneurs both male and female. So watch out for some boys appearing on Flourishing Entrepreneurs this year too.
Today I’m introducing Flourishing Entrepreneur #9 Ciara Lennon, the face and name behind the raw, vegan treat creator Bear Lemon. Ciara set up Bear Lemon in 2017 making delicious gluten free, dairy free, raw and vegan snacks and now delivers her top quality, natural treats to some of Dublin’s best independent cafes.
Who are you, what is your business and what job title do you have?
Hey Im Ciara! I am founder and creator of Bear Lemon. I create, make and bake delicious vibrant alternative treats using the best sourced ingredients. I have a range of dairy free, gluten free and vegan treats.
What were you told about work growing up?
When I was growing up the advice was more or less around the lines that you had to get a good education and good job. My parents just wanted what was best for me and always pushed me to go college and get a good salary job for security etc.
Career advice was more or less go for a good job that pays well. I always thought ‘good jobs’ meant well paid job and wanted to be a doctor for a while, because I knew at the top you got paid well and thought my parents would be proud.
Really until 5th year in school I was concentrating on the wrong thing. I was horrible at science and my career guidance teacher said to me one day what are your best subjects? I said Art and Tech Graph and she told me about NCAD [National College for Art & Design].
I never knew you could study art or design, I always though it was a hobby as I painted all the time when I was young.
Then I played to my strengths and focused on getting into NCAD to study Fashion Design and low and behold I got in.
What jobs were recommended to you?
No one really recommended jobs. I kind of just did what I wanted. After studying fashion I tried to get a fashion job but my heart wasn’t in it. I always had a passion for cooking so I pursued that instead.
I did an intense 3 month cooking course at the Dublin Cookery School. This allowed me to just walk into a kitchen and start working. I worked in lots of kitchens from fine dinning to cafes around Dublin for about 2 years before starting Bear Lemon.
How has your mind-set changed around work since you started out?
My mind-set has changed in trying to find balance. Learning how to be self-employed and delegate and be a boss and have ‘me time.’ Its hard to learning everyday and love it.
At the moment I deliver treats to some of Dublin’s best cafes. I want to expand this year and hopeful bring out a Bear Lemon food product. These are lots of exciting things to come in 2019. I can’t give away too much just yet but watch this space!
As a trained Chef and having a degree in fashion design I found these skills are vital to what I do today. From the skills of a chef to the creativity of fashion design. There is a massive crossover between fashion and food. You have to be creative, think of new ideas, think on your feet and have an eye for detail .
How do you prioritise your health as a busy entrepreneur?
My health is a huge part of me. I am very active and train in Crossfit 6 days a week.
CrossFit and fitness and a healthy lifestyle is a massive part of my drive to succeed and become the best version of me. It’s so much more now than just getting fit. Everything I do in that gym translates into my work and lifestyle.
How is your relationship with food? How does food feature in your life and what does it mean to you?
My relationship with food is great. Food and I are really best friends. I am always thinking of my next meal and as I train so much I have to keep track of what I eat and make sure I am not under eating.
What is your favourite meal, something you would recommend others learn to cook or prepare?
That is such a hard one. I love pizza and love Pi pizza in Dublin. I think this is definitely my favourite meal of all time and everyone should know how to make a good pizza.
The voice in your head - we’ve all got one! What negative thing does it say to you most often and how do you deal with it?
I would say the most negative thing for me is regret and being too hard on myself. I have learnt overtime through running a business that I have so many things to get done in one day and just have to delegate and plan as best as I can.
Sometimes things don’t always goes to plan, tears start flowing and things just go wrong. I can be very hard on myself or regretting a decision if it was a business deal or could be personal. But you have to live in this moment and you make certain decisions in that moment and that is a really hard thing to learn.
Success – what does it mean to you?
Success to me is about falling down and getting back up. The big win is always so nice but there is moments where you are in a dark place and want to pack it in but you push through and come out the other end.
Those moments define the successful people that are in it for the journey to those that cut corners and want to make a quick dollar. Failing is really only failing if you don’t get back up, if you get back up its 100% succeeding.
As an entrepreneur and businesswomen I definitely want to make money and be at the top of my industry. Money will come if you are truly passionate and work really hard.
I am always looking at new ways to create opportunity for myself, but learning not to put yourself under too much pressure and be happy along the way is key.
If your passion is bringing you down or making you sad or is a chore then something is wrong and maybe it’s about stepping back and tweaking it slightly.
But do not give up! Take a break and come back fighting. Yes I work long hours but have rewarded breaks or I will get run down and will have to stop and if worst came to worst would have to close my business if my health was at risk form overworking.
Self-care. What does it mean to you and what self-care practises do you have to look after yourself as a busy entrepreneur?
Self-care is very important. I take 1 day off a week, because when I started out in business I did get run down and lost sight of things that were really important in my life.
I take time for Crossfit, family and friends as these aspects of my life can not slip. The way I plan my days it all fits in nicely but that definitely took a while and sometimes does get disturbed.
I also try to take a holiday a year as I am still young and travel is so important to me at this stage of my life. I try to travel to countries where I source my ingredients.
Usually patisserie ingredients come from warmer climates, like vanilla, nuts and chocolate. So while I’m there I can inform my followers and educate them more and more about all the wonderful ingredients I use.
What one book, video or podcast would you recommend to entrepreneurs?
I would recommend both Garry Veynerchuk’s books: Crush It and Crushing It, as well as Mike Michalowicz’s Profit First.
What one tip, quote or resource would you share with other entrepreneurs to help them on their journey?
As Nike says ‘Just Do It’.
If you don’t take the leap you will never know. Be you and be no-one else, people want to see you and your talents and what you have to offer.