Meet the woman earning a living from her back garden.Â
We all have family and friends who dream of starting their own business. The luxury of being your own boss is something that appeals to all of us. However, for most, that dream is put on hold (the dreaded ,'what ifs'' take over) and instead, we stay comfortable in our regular jobs.
Linda Cox, a certified balloon artist from Swords, is taking the definition of a workplace to a whole new level. She does't get up every morning and travel to what we'd call the typical workplace such as an office.
Every morning, she jumps into her car and heads over to her parent's house. Located in their back garden is a shed which is where Linda earns a living.
A few years ago, Linda was made redundant. She didn't find any luck in her hunt for a new role, coming across the obstacle of being ''over qualified'' for many positions advertised at the time.
''I found not having a purpose every day, a place to go, very difficult to adjust to. Iâ€™d been working in an office environment since I was 18. Being told at the age of 35 that there was no more work for me was heart-breaking.''
''I tried not to let it get me to initially, I was positive that I would find something else. But as the months went on, the panic set in. I had a mortgage and bills to pay and there was no sign of a job coming my way.''
Linda said she was always quite''arty''. She is known by her family and friends as the creative one.
''I love making things,cards, crafts, invitations. I decided to look into starting my own business based on my love of being creative.''
However, it wasn't as simple as she hoped.
''From the outset, I wanted the business to cater for events, so I initially thought invitations or flyers. But, when I was researching possible business ideas, I realised there was too much competition. ''
The pressure was on to find something unique, something that would appeal to a large audience.
''Then I came across this balloon course and it was a like light bulb had lit above my head''
After a few short weeks, she had completed the course and received her ,'Certified Balloon Artist'' qualification.
''To get started, I set up the social platforms for my business -Lindaâ€™s Party Balloons â€“ and pushed myself out across them. Friends and family also helped spread the word''
''Initially, orders were small so I was able to work from my apartment.â€™â€™
''After about a year or so, I was receiving regular business but orders were getting bigger, and my tiny living room in my 2-bed apartment wasnâ€™t able to handle the volume.â€™â€™
She had hit another obstacle.
''Business was good, but I wasnâ€™t earning a fortune. There was no way I could afford to rent a space.â€™â€™
''My Dad, Pat, is quite the DIYer (probably where I get my creativity from) so he was the best person to talk to about this. He suggested we get a shed, it could be left in their garden and heâ€™d do it up with all the things I need.â€™â€™
''I thought he was mad, a shed as a work place? – Â But he assured me that he knew what he was doing, so I trusted him.â€™â€™
Pat purchased a shed and got to work. He transformed the shed into a balloon art studio. He built shelves and drawers for her to store supplies such as balloons, ribbons, and cards. He carpeted the floor, installed light bulbs and hooked up two big helium tanks to the wall.
''He didnâ€™t forget anything. He made sure there was space for everything. I tend to use different balloons in terms of quality, size and colour. With the drawers and shelves, Iâ€™m able to keep everything properly organised (which makes working in a shed so much easier). ''
Linda is approaching her fourth year in business and she is happy to say that she is at the stage where she is ''earning a decent wage''
''I feel comfortable at the moment. I can happily say the business is progressing steadily. Iâ€™ve got leaflets and business cards to hand out at conferences and any events I attend. I've even had to invest in a little van. Orders are coming regularly and I need a reliable vehicle to make deliveries.''
''It's been a very difficult but enjoyable time. I absolutely love what I do. I love working for myself and despite being unsure about it, I love working from a shed. I couldnâ€™t imagine doing my job anywhere else.''