This month we have Gillian Halpin, founder of luxury home fragrance brand Jane Darcy and mother of two, contribute to our hugely popular My World series.
We launched this series to honour and introduce an inspiring group of mothers, entrepreneurs and friends of Mamas Hospital Bag. Each person featured is someone who motivates us with their shared values and determination to do what they love! MHB is proud to be able to reveal that we are featuring Jane Darcy in a new product being launched to our Gift Box Collection. Having been introduced to Gillian as part of this collaboration, it was immediately clear how passionate she is about building the Jane Darcy brand but also how supportive she is of other female entrepreneurs. Read on to hear about what's next for Jane Darcy, the gifts she hopes to pass on to her daughters and her love of opera singing!
Our conversation with Gillian

Gillian, we are huge fans of Jane Darcy and are delighted to have you contribute to our My World series. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself & your family. There are four in our family- my fiancé Stephen, me, Willow & Rose. We were blessed with two beautiful girls; Willow age 9 years and Rose 4 years. Stephen & I have been together since we were teenagers, so we are real childhood sweethearts. Some of our favourite things to do as a family are walks in Malahide castle or a family movie (with treats of course ;-)).

What is your memory of packing your first hospital bag? Oh I have lovely memories of packing my hospital bag when I was pregnant both times. I just love being organised so I really loved the experience of packing my hospital bag. I remember for my first pregnancy with Willow, I did so much research and planning before even packing the bag. I remember choosing the cute little outfits. I would organise the outfits into little zip lock bags to make it easy and compact. I used to just open the bag and look at all the little bits and pieces before we went into the hospital. With my second pregnancy, I definitely did a lot less research, as I felt I knew what I was bringing, and what I was actually going to use. So second time round I was definitely more confident with what I was bringing.

How would you describe yourself as a mother? Oh that’s a tough one. I think as an Irish mammy you are always second guessing yourself. I mean we all do our very best, but there is always that niggling feeling that you haven’t done enough. I’m a pretty organised person so I always have the next activity or art project planned, and I’m definitely not one for sitting around so I do like to get the girls out and about in the fresh air. I try to balance my tendency to over schedule, with ‘chill days’. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m a mum who is always trying her best, hoping her best is good enough. But I reckon there is a little bit of that mum in us all, right?

My biggest challenge as a mother…is being able to accept that my best is good enough. 

The greatest gifts I hope to give my children are…a love of life, the confidence to follow their hearts & dream big, the ability to stand up for themselves and what they believe in, and to always be kind no matter what life throws at them.

Personally I didn’t grow up thinking ‘I want to run my own business’, it evolved from a desire to create something I actually wanted in the market. Can you tell us what was your path to starting Jane Darcy and did you always want to be an entrepreneur? You took the words right out of my mouth. I never grew up wanting to be an entrepreneur. I always knew I wanted to create something, I just never quite knew what that was. I did always have a feeling that I would do something I really love one day, which was really comforting growing up. It sounds really silly to say that out loud, but I really did just know that whatever I was going to do would come to me, I just didn’t know when that would be. So to finally be able to realise that dream is just incredible. It really does show you to just trust your gut and follow your dreams.

What does a typical work day look like for you? I don’t think I know what a typical day at Jane Darcy even looks like to be honest. Some days are super chill and we are answering emails, talking with stockists, dispatching orders, creating new products, and other days are hectic with press launches, photo shoots, etc. I never know what is going to happen when I wake up in the morning but I just love that! Of course there are bad days too, but sure that’s business, and it only makes the big days, the good days, that bit better!

What is the part of building a business you love best Gillian? My favourite part of building a business is developing new products. I am a really creative person so designing and creating new products from concept right through to the finished project is as close to real life magic as it gets. I also love looking back at where we started. It is so amazing to see where Jane Darcy started and where we are today. It is just incredible, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love every day.

Can you give advice to anyone who wants to start their own business? Tips on how you got started, anything you think was essential to getting off the ground? Or things you wish you had done differently the first time around – likewise things you felt you nailed? If I could give one tip to someone starting their own business or even thinking about it, it would be to pick up the phone. Ask for advice. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to someone and ask what they think or ask can they help you. In my experience, anyone I have asked for help from has answered my call and visa versa. Don’t be afraid, what’s the worst that can happen, they say no? So what, you are still in the same place if they say no, then you can ask someone else. As someone said to me, you have to go through a few numbers to get the yes.

What’s next for Jane Darcy? Big things! We have so many new plans for Jane Darcy. I’m afraid to say it, but we already smashed our five year plan in three short years! It’s time to write a new one I think! Each year we try to develop and grow and bring something new to the table that everyone will love. We have some really big new stockists coming on board in the coming weeks, so that is very exciting, and we are beginning our launch into the US next year, which is a real pinch me moment I have to say. I can’t wait to see what is to come in the next 5 years for Jane Darcy.

Do you enjoy traveling and where are some of your favourite places to escape to? I love to travel. I have to say I have the travel bug. I get it from my parents. They are big on travel too. I am so lucky to have been to so many beautiful places around the world including, Mexico, Thailand, Dubai, Spain, Switzerland, China, Italy, France…but there are some many other beautiful locations I have on the to-do list. If I had to pick my top three places to visit I would choose; Australia, Vienna & Italy. All very different, but all very beautiful & so much to be explored.

Time for yourself is difficult to carve out as a mum; what do you do for yourself? I think we all suffer with trying to carve out some time for ourselves. We are all so busy rushing around, making sure we squeeze everything into our days, when it’s just as important, if not more important, to carve out some time for us. Time where we don’t have anything scheduled, time where we can just be. Whether that’s reading a book, going for a walk, or simply running a nice long hot bath. That is the whole reason I started Jane Darcy. I wanted to encourage, not just me, but the people around me to treasure the simple moments in life. The moments the matter the most.

What is something people might be surprised to learn about you? I think people find it really surprising when I tell them I sing opera. I have been training & singing opera since I was a teenager. I went for an audition for a musical and the director introduced me to the world of opera. From then on, I trained with the infamous Dr. Veronica Dunne (or for those who knew her, Ronnie), and we ended up being the best of friends. You never know where life brings you or the amazing people who will cross your path.

October 30, 2021