‘From being a Celtic cub, the recession has always been in my psyche’

Me & My Money: Jess Kavanagh, artisan weaver, olann.ie

Are you a saver or a spender?

Unfortunately, a spender. At least I can admit that, right? Much to my partner’s dismay, though. He tells me that I spend €50 like he spends €5.

Do you shop around for better value?

Not necessarily for better value, but I have begun to improve my spending habits by shopping and researching for good quality, better value, and higher standards. As an ethical maker, I have become more aware of the footprint I am leaving, and whose footprint I am buying from.


What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

I purchased a DSLR Nikon camera, macro 60mm lens, along with studio lighting, a large Polaroid camera and a few extras. It came to just over €3,500, but this equipment was necessary for my company, to take better-quality photos for our social media, online shop, and to make sure my product was shown in the best possible way.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

Around this time last year, I was a runner-up in the national final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, run by the Local Enterprise Office. I was awarded €20,000 to invest in my company. For €6,500, I bought a shipping container to dry my yarn, as we needed extra space for this part of the process. I use this space every day. It dries my yarn three times faster, it’s secure and most of all it’s constantly a balmy 35 degrees. Without this generous investment, my business would not run as efficiently.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

Living in a rural part of Co Cavan can have its limitations, so really a bit of both. For food, I try to shop as local as possible, but for clothes, books and furniture I prefer to shop online. As I mentioned, I have been trying to make better choices in my spending, and shopping online allows me to not impulse buy, be more considerate of my purchases and where they come from.

Do you haggle over prices?

Never, I’m too shy. My partner on the other hand – well, he is a Cavan man!

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

When the recession hit, I had just finished my Leaving Cert, so I never really had money to my name, per se, just enough for the basics. From being a Celtic cub, I guess the recession has always been in my psyche as I saw the impact it had on my parents’ business. I believe I learned some things vicariously through them.

Do you invest in shares?

No, but as a company we plan to.

Cash or card?

Card, but I can’t decide if tapping is a blessing or a curse!

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

I invested in a handsewn linen top and trousers from an ethical and fair trade family-run company in Lithuania. I wear them pretty much every day that I’m not in the studio. As a maker, I try to be more conscious where I buy my clothes from. I now prefer to buy from other makers or sustainable and ethical clothing stores.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

It’s ongoing. My partner and I are currently finishing up saving to build our dream house, which starts later this summer. We are renovating an old-school house into a family home, and understand that renovating a 150-year-old building is going to be costly.

Have you ever lost money?

No, but I have a habit of finding it. My partner has a habit of losing it. Don’t tell him.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

I’ve actually never placed a bet, nor do I play the lotto. Maybe I should, a good bet could help us out with this big saving for our home.

Is money important to you?

Funnily enough, no. The drive to do better, make better and live better is what matters to me.

How much money do you have on you now?

A little less than €250. We keep some cash at hand for childcare, emergency money, or if one of us temporarily loses our wallet. That happens a lot – to him. I’ve never lost mine!

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea