Alex: Congratulations on Réalta’s birthday, Aoife. November has not only marked the first anniversary of your business; it’s also been your busiest month yet! Did you foresee the brand would come this far in such a short length of time?
Aoife: Thank you so much! Yes, that’s right. We had a huge month in November; I was honestly blown away. I thought it was fitting that we had our biggest month on our first birthday! I always hoped Réalta would be successful, but I really wasn’t prepared for the response we’ve had. It has been absolutely incredible! The first drop sold out in a matter of hours, and I’ve now run out of packaging three times due to high demand.
Alex: How did this entrepreneurial journey begin for you? What inspired you to found Réalta just over a year ago?
Aoife: I’ve been interested in business my entire life. I’ve experimented with different small businesses (on a much smaller scale!) throughout my teenage years. I always knew I wanted to have my own business, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2021 that I realised jewellery would be the perfect industry for me. I’ve always had a love for it, and I’m one of those people that never take their jewellery off. I even shower and sleep in my pieces. Mostly because if I were to take them off, I know I’d lose them! That’s exactly what inspired Réalta; I decided to create affordable and long-lasting waterproof jewellery because these qualities are everything I’d personally want in a jewellery brand.Alex: The jewellery is truly beautiful; I can’t wait to purchase a few pieces myself! If you were to pick your top three favourite Réalta pieces, which would they be and why?
Aoife: I would have to say the Claddagh ring is right up there. This was one of the first pieces I dropped, and it sold out in a matter of minutes. I also love that it’s a chunkier piece, almost men's style; I prefer this look over the (usually) very dainty women's style! I would also have to say the Adh ring because it’s my first-ever custom piece. I designed it myself and, again, the response was amazing! The idea that over a hundred people are wearing a ring I designed is honestly incredible. Even some celebrities wear it! Finally, I’d have to say the Gabby hoops. They are one of the newest additions to the Réalta collection and I just love them!
Alex: What would you say sets Réalta apart from other jewellery brands?
Aoife: The first thing that comes to mind is that all Réalta pieces are waterproof, so you can wear your jewellery in the sea, shower, and gym. Réalta pieces will never turn your skin green! I wasted many years buying jewellery that quickly tarnished and turned my skin green after only a few wears, so I wanted to ensure this didn’t happen with Réalta. It’s also very important to me that Réalta pieces are affordable so they’re accessible to everyone.
Alex: I love just how much of your identity is infused into Réalta as a brand. The word Réalta itself comes from Irish Gaelic (meaning star), and many of the jewellery pieces are inspired by Irish symbols. How important do you think it is to incorporate one’s personality into your brand and business?
Aoife: I think it’s vital to showcase your personality through your brand. To be honest, I would find it incredibly difficult not to incorporate my identity into the business! I’m proud to be Irish, so making each piece reflect an Irish name, place or word is my way of honouring my heritage and making the Réalta brand my own.
Alex: As a business owner, can you tell us what challenges you encountered during the early stages of setting up your business and how you overcame said challenges? What advice would you give business owners who are at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey?
Aoife: God, there have been so many! For starters, I had no investment or capital to start Réalta, so it took me five months to save and prepare for the launch of the business. I would use a percentage of my wages every month to buy stock and pay for the website until over time I was ready to launch. Then the big day came, and nothing could’ve prepared me for it! I sold out in a matter of hours. I was not expecting this whatsoever, so I actually ran out of packaging and had to frantically order some make-do boxes! The advice I’d give business owners at the start of their journey is to simply go for it, believe in yourself and work hard. Running a business is absolutely non-stop; you go to bed thinking about your business and you wake up thinking about it, too. However, if you’re truly passionate about what you do, starting your own business will be the best thing you’ve ever done.
Alex: That’s great advice, Aoife. I’m sure small business owners reading this are taking notes! Let’s switch gears now and discuss your passions outside of Réalta. When you are not working on the business, how do you like to spend your time? Aoife: I actually currently work full-time for a tech company, which I absolutely love. However, this means that between my nine-to-five and working on Réalta, there’s not much time left in the day! I love that I always have something to work on. Of course, I also love solving the world's problems over a drink with my friends!
Alex: Would you say you have achieved a good work-life balance, then? How do you manage your time effectively to fit in all your business to-dos and still have time for family and friends?
Aoife: To be totally honest, no, I haven’t yet; but if anyone has, I’m open to their recommendations! Luckily, my boyfriend is very understanding. He’s a great soundingboard when I need to bounce ideas off someone. The same goes for my friends; no product reaches the Réalta website before it’s been approved by the group chat!
Alex: There’s no denying that all your hard work is certainly paying off, as Réalta is quickly becoming a jewellery staple for many people. What is your wish for the future of the brand?
Aoife: 2023 is set to be a very exciting year; we’re levelling up our packaging options and we’ll be hosting some gorgeous events! Personally, I just want the brand to keep growing. I want more people to know about Réalta and enjoy the brand. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved in one year, and I’m ready to take it even further in 2023.
Blog authored by Alex Welch.