Mum’s hobby to help meningitis recovery now a thriving Ballymena business

Breathing new life into pre-loved furniture has remained the focus of the Ballymena based Chique Unique from the days when the thriving family business was merely a welcome outlet for Shauna O’Neill’s rehabilitation after she suffered a major brain injury caused by meningitis.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 2:20 pm

Mum of three Shauna took to restoring and painting items of furniture bought in charity shops as a way of keeping her mind busy, never thinking that, one day, her ‘hobby’ would become a successful company which, in the last year, has expanded to new premises and whose workforce is growing month on month. As the business evolved, Shauna and husband Declan saw a potential in the kitchen refurb market.

Eventually Declan left his full-time job of 14 years to join the business, and the couple now offer the full kitchen makeover including painting, worktops, modifications and much more.

Orders for Chique Unique’s highly sought after kitchen respraying service come in from all over Ireland and such is the level of demand for that particular aspect of their expertise, it is all hands to the deck for Shauna, her husband Declan, and their team of craftsmen.

Shauna and Declan O'Neill, with their daughter Ellie at the new expanded showroom

The local firm is one of the success stories which has benefited from mentoring and specialist business advice under Mid and East Antrim Council’s Business Escalator and Escalator Plus Programmes – which are part funded by Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund.

Council’s Business Client Manager, Ally McGarry, initially made contact with Declan and Shauna to assess the type of support the business would benefit from, including mentoring and help with social media content and marketing.

This resulted in an immediate increase in the number of requests for quotes and enquiries, which, in turn, led to more sales.

Shauna, who was then supported with Financial Management mentoring, in order to plan for the future, encourages other local businesses to avail of the support available from the council :“The mentors were so supportive and helpful throughout every stage of the programme. From the first contact with them, we discussed any issues we felt we had and required help with and they came back to us with recommendations and valuable advice. They worked alongside us and supported us, helping us put these plans into place and continually followed up with us to ensure they were working well. Our business has continued to grow and we are delighted to be in the position to recruit more staff. We have also secured new contracts which will take our business to another level and are confident that the knowledge and skills we acquired through the programmes will enable us to service these contracts successfully and continue to expand our ever-growing business.”

Chique Unique are currently looking to increase the workforce to meet the large demand for their services and have opportunities open for fitters, sprayers and joiner. If interested email Shauna at [email protected]