Press & Awards
Irish online gift company succeeds in delivering the goods
Irish Independent - 24th March 2013
Irish entrepreneur and businessman Seán Gallagher, dropped by GiftsDirect HQ recently to interview CEO Lulu O’Sullivan about the challenges facing Irish Businesses today. They cover a wide range of topics from the early days of setting up her first business, Inter-Teddy, right up to setting up one of Ireland’s first Ecommerce websites, GiftsDirect.com.
It’s a great read with lots of fantastic insights which you can read in full here on the Independent.ie website.
Irish Premier of Girl Rising
Friday 8th March 2013
Lulu O’Sullivan of GiftsDirect.com went along to the Irish premiere of Girl Rising hosted by Plan Ireland in conjunction with Intel at the Science Gallery in Dublin on Friday night. Girl Rising is a groundbreaking film at the centre of 10x10's global campaign to educate and empower girls to change the world. Girl Rising spotlights nine unforgettable girls born into unforgiving circumstances with powerful vocal performances by Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Alicia Keys, and other celebrated actresses.
Down To Business - Newstalk
Sunday 24th February
Lulu O'Sullivan of Gifts Direct was interviewed on Sunday morning by Irish entrepreneur Bobby Kerr on his "Down to Business" radio show on Newstalk. It's a really interesting listen as not only does Lulu explain where the seeds of Gifts Direct were first sown to eventually become Irelands leading independent online gift store, but there are some great insights into the challenges facing modern Irish businesses today.
Bobby Kerr is a ‘Dragon’ on RTE’s Dragons’ Den. He is the Chairman of Insomnia Coffee and one of the owners of Bang Restaurant. He has a variety of business interests in food & hospitality, technology, manufacturing and retail. Bobby is also a popular public speaker and business mentor.
Mumpreneurs in a growth frame of mindThe Irish Times - Monday, August 27, 2012
The ‘mumpreneur’ phenomenon evolved as a way for women to combine a fulfilling family life with a career – and now Enterprise Ireland wants to get these innovators to think about expanding their businesses
When Lulu O'Sullivan was setting up her online gifts company GiftsDirect.com some 23 years ago, the term “mumpreneur” hadn’t yet been coined, but even if it had, it wouldn’t have applied to her.
While she has four children, she has always seen herself as a fully fledged entrepreneur, and has put the time and effort into growing and developing her business. Even if there have been some sacrifices along the way.
“There are disadvantages and advantages – a disadvantage is that you’re not outside school gate every day and you have to accept that. But if there’s an important school play or a child needs to be brought to the doctor, you can do it,” she says, adding: “There are ways around it if you really want to do it, but you need to think of all these things.”
While the concept of mothers trying to run businesses from their homes at the same time as rearing their children has been around a long time – the late Anita Roddick of The Body Shop is a frequently cited example – the term “mumpreneur” is a new edition to the business lexicon. Indeed, it only entered the Collins English dictionary last year, but there is a groundswell of support behind the movement.
While O’Sullivan has managed to successfully combine both business and family life, it’s not always a straightforward decision for other women.
“I think one of the reasons why women don’t stay in business as long as men do, is that they get overwhelmed and think ‘there’s no way Ill manage to do both’,” she says.
Valentines Day Poetry CompetitionThe Metro Herald - Tuesday, February 2, 2012
POCKET WATCH: Lulu O'Sullivan
Lulu O'Sullivan is chief executive of GiftsDirect.com and siopa.com. Married with four children, she lives in Sandymount in Dublin.
What's the best investment you ever made?
A one thousand Irish punt investment in PR when I set up. We received so much positive press when I set up which I think was mainly because the idea of purchasing gifts over the phone for convenience was so unique at that time. Since then, I've always prioritised PR and marketing as a key part of my business mix.
What's the worst investment you ever made?
I've been very lucky with the staff I've hired over the years. I have the same core team that started out with me at the very beginning. That said, everyone makes one or two bad staffing decisions and I have had a few expensive mistakes, but you live and learn from them.
Do you own your own home or other investment property?
Yes, together with my husband, we own our house in Sandymount.
What type of car do you have?
A Volkswagen Beetle. It's the first soft top car I've ever had and I love it. I've been known to drive with the roof down at midnight on those rare warm evenings, just because I can.
Do you have a pension?
Yes I do.
Which investment options do you currently favour?
I believe silver and gold are solid investments in these rocky times.
What was the best financial advice you ever received?
It sounds obvious, but the best advice was to keep my overheads low and continually monitor the return on investment in my business. Other good advice was to agree prices upfront with people so there are never any surprises.
If you were the Minister for Finance for a day and could change one thing, what would it be?
Where do I start? Without a doubt, I would reverse the decision to increase Vat from 21 per cent to 23 per cent. It's like handing shoppers a train ticket to go up North and buy there, when we so badly need more spending to happen here. However, increasing the levy on private health insurance is also very short-sighted and could have disastrous consequences, so I would put an immediate stop to that. Finally, I think we have an excellent opportunity to become the digital hub of Europe but to continue evolving we need government investment in this area. With big names including Google, eBay and Paypal already here, Ireland could potentially become the Silicon Valley of Europe.
Are you a saver or a spender?
I love spending money. However, I’m not the worst spender and nearly always avoid over spending
What's your top financial priority?
Keeping up with the day-to-day bills and investing in my children’s education are two things I really prioritise
How would you describe your attitude to your personal finances?
Pretty sensible with a few enjoyable slip ups.
What's your top money saving tip?
If you are feeling the pinch, hide your credit card at home somewhere and take out cash on the same day each week. Then you feel much more in control of your spending.
What's your biggest indulgence?
I love edgy, designer clothes and sometimes invest in Irish designers that I am a fan of. I also love Irish jewellery as a great way to update an outfit so I regularly buy pieces from John Rocha, Alan Ardiff and other designers on Siopa.com and GiftsDirect.com.
If you had all the money you could wish for, what three things would you buy?
I would pay off a number of mortgages within my family. I would take a trip around the world with my family and also pay for some friends to join us at a few different hot spots. Last but not least, I would definitely make a substantial donation to charity. As we say in GiftsDirect.com, the joy is in the giving.
O'Sullivan and her team run two websites. The first, GiftsDirect.com, is an award-winning online gifts delivery business which offers a convenient way to both corporate and consumer customers to send gifts to anywhere in the world. The company was set up in 1987, and moved online in 1997, making it one of the first e-commerce sites in Ireland. In May of 2011, O'Sullivan launched siopa.com(https://siopa.com), an online shop targeted at the Irish Diaspora who have a need for authentic, quality Irish goods.
Best e-Commerce Exporter WINNER!
6th November 2011
We are delighted to announce that our website Siopa.com won "Best e-Commerce Exporter website award" in the Retail Excellence Ireland Awards. It is fantastic to be recognised for all our hard work in building this new website which is focused on exporting the best of Irish gifts worldwide. We would like to thank all our loyal GiftsDirect.com & siopa.com customers for all your support and of course our dedicated team.
Sunday Independent 7th November 2011
Siopa.com and Giftsdirect.com send gifts all around the world making the process as convenient as possible for their customers. Consumers send gifts to their sons or daughters living abroad who cannot make it home for Christmas or their birthday. Likewise, corporates send gifts to clients abroad and the process works vice versa. “We have well over a thousand gifts on Giftsdirect.com and over 600 on Siopa.com, so we believe we would have a gift for anyone for any occasion,” says Lulu O’ Sullivan, CEO of Siopa.com and Giftsdirect.com. “We also ensure the quality of the gift is spot on when it arrives.”For Lulu, one of the most important aspects of any company is customer service. “We’ve been delivering around the world for 20 years and have built our whole business on customer service. “We get letters from customers telling us they have never come across the degree of customer service they get from us. To be successful you have to do what you say you’re going to do on your website; any deviation from that is an absolute disaster.”
Irish Tatler 'Women In Business'
Six stories of incredible success, as profiled by Valerie Nestor of The Irish Tatler
1st July 2010
Lulu O Sullivan. CEO AND OWNER
Lulu O’Sullivan set up her award-winning gift delivery company, GiftsDirect.com (then lnterTeddy), in 1987 when she was just 21 years old. With an initial investment of just €2,000, the service grew from delivering teddies and greeting cards to friends and family to the huge success it is today. In 1996 GiftsDirect.com became one of the ﬁrst companies to offer products for sale online, now delivering top Irish brands such as Tipperary Crystal, Newbridge Silverware, Louise Kennedy and Nicholas Mosse to worldwide destinations. The gifts are beautifully packaged and can be tracked to ensure peace of mind. Lulu and her team have always placed great emphasis on customer service and in doing so have retained a loyal following. When asked about what makes her company thrive, Lulu maintains that it is largely down to a love for what she does. “We are all so passionate about the business at GiftsDirect.com - we're continually looking at ways no satisfy our customers and to expand or improve our offering in line with their needs.” GiftsDirect.com won the ‘Irish Internet Association’s Internet Entrepreneur 2007 award and Online Exporter 2008 award and were short listed for the Golden Spider Best e-business Website Award in 2009.
Fm104 & Giftsdirect.com Helicopter Ride Experience, Niamh & Jim Face Their Fears!
June 19th 2010
Giftsdirect.com set Niamh & Jim from Strawberry Alarm clock a challenge to go on our Helicopter Ride this week.
Niamh faced her fears to go in the two seater helicopter at Western airport. Niamh was very nervous but Jim & Lee the helicopter pilot tried to put her mind at ease (or wound her up!). But once they got off the ground they were able to see spectacular views from the cock pit.
Jim went first and said "It was amazing and the views were incredible"
"Fabulous views, you could just everywhere see from Dun Laoghaire harbour all the way over…it’s an incredible machine and the stuff that they can do."
"Niamh is either going to love it …or be screaming to get out, but I tell you it’s something she won’t forget it, it’s absolutely brilliant"
A much more nervous Niamh went second, but she did it! When she got out she had a big hug from Jim,
"I did it, just about… when we were going up I said I can’t do it, he said you got to do it now!"
Give someone special a flying experience they’ll never forget, choose from our range of Helicopter and Airplane flying lessons, and rides: Flying Experience Gifts
Golden Spider Awards - 29th October 2009
We've Been Shortlisted the Golden Spider Awards! 2009
Lulu O Sullivan On TV3 Midday Programme
19th June 2009-06-19
Our MD Lulu appeared today on TV3’s Midday show to discuss the upcoming occasion of Father’s Day on Sunday 21st June.
Lulu discussed the history of Fathers day – not a “Hallmark” occasion as many may think but in fact began in 1900’s when a grateful daughter wanted to express her deep appreciation for her own father William Smart, a civil war veteran, was widowed when his wife died in childbirth. Mr Smart raised his six children on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. When one of Mr Smart's children Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, one of Mr Smart's children, was grown she wanted to show her appreciation for her father. He had shown her great love and strength in raising her and her siblings as a single parent. So, in 1909, she proposed a day to honour her father in June (the month of her father's birth).
The very first Fathers' Day followed on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge showed support of this becoming a national holiday. However, it wasn't until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson officially proclaimed Fathers' Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June.
Our new brochure was also featured on the show which includes a huge range of Valentines gift for him, and Birthday gifts for men, Gifts For Him & other occasions starting from 25 Euro to over 300 Euro!
Our most popular Gifts this year have by far been the Flying Lessons literally “Flying” out, plus Wine Appreciation Gifts, Cooking Courses, Tank driving & other Experience Activity days which are available either by post or email to ensure last minute orders can be catered for!
Also Appearing on the Show Today:
Aidan Bishop - Comedian - www.theinternationalcomedyclub.com
Don Morgan - Journalist - Irish Times
Ken Foy - Crime Correspondent - Star Sunday
And Our Very Own:
Lulu O'Sullivan - MD www.Giftsdirect.com
Awarded with "Best Online Exporter"! 30th October 2008
The Irish Internet Association a& Enterprise Ireland hosted the annual Net Visionary Awards at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham on Thursday evening. I had been shortlisted for a category & I was overwhelmed and honoured to receive the award for "Best Online Exporter" 2008 for our worldwide gift delivery service. We have now placed it beside our award for 2007 of "Internet Entrepreneur 2007". I am just delighted with both achievements. Many thanks to all our loyal customers who voted for me, I'm truly grateful for your support. And also the amazing staff, family and friends who have all contributed with the growth and success of GiftsDirect.com And finally thank you to the IIA for the wonderful evening, the venue was beautiful, well done, the event's sponsors and to our host Realex.