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Ann McGregor (Chief Executive of NI Chamber); Ciara Donlon, (CEO & Founder of THEYA Healthcare) and Professor Mark Durkin (Executive Dean, Ulster University Business School).

An exceptional entrepreneur whose company supplies specialist garments to the healthcare sector has said hard work and determination are the reasons for her success.

Ciara Donlon, the CEO & Founder of THEYA Healthcare, who was guest speaker at a Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) event, in partnership with Ulster University Business School, told attendees at Belfast’s W5 that perseverance was also a critical part of entrepreneurship and innovation.

THEYA Healthcare has created a range of underwear for women who have undergone any type of breast, thoracic, pelvic or abdominal surgery and also for those receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy.  Ciara set up the company in 2014 after running her own lingerie shop in Dublin where she saw customers struggling to find underwear that was comfortable to wear after surgery and during radiotherapy treatment. THEYA Healthcare began trading in 2015.

Sharing her insight into starting a business Ciara said:

“You have to be prepared to stick at it.  There will be lots of obstacles put in your path and you have to find a way past them. But when you really believe in something, you find levels of resolve within yourself that you didn’t even know you had.  Listen to your market. Perhaps it’s my background in marketing, but I was stunned when I started THEYA Healthcare that I could not find one manufacturer in the space who was actually listening to its end users. Business is simple really, offer people what they want and you will succeed.”

In 3 short years, THEYA Healthcare, headquartered at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs, has established a strong presence in the Irish market and further afield. It is an approved supplier to the NHS in the UK and has entered the French, Portuguese and Canadian markets.  A graduate of Trinity and DIT with a B(SC) in Management and an Advanced Diploma in Marketing Techniques, Ciara gained over 15 years’ experience working in companies including RBS, Irish Life & Permanent and Vodafone.

Ciara, as the CEO of THEYA Healthcare, has won a multitude of accolades including being named one of 18 worldwide finalists for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2017.  The winners will be announced in Singapore in April.

Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said:

“NI Chamber is delighted to have an entrepreneur of Ciara’s calibre here today. She is a real inspiration to anyone thinking of starting their own business. Entrepreneurship goes hand-in-hand with innovation – it requires an ability to provide better solutions and provide new products. Great entrepreneurs are not only hard working but also highly innovative and Ciara exemplifies both of these qualities superbly well.”

Professor Mark Durkin, Executive Dean, Ulster University Business School, said:

“We are delighted to partner the NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry for this event.  Innovation and entrepreneurship are the driving forces behind every growing economy and it is our job at the Business School to nurture that culture in our students across all departments.  For that reason, Ciara is an excellent role model as someone who used her leadership and marketing skills to exploit a gap in the post-surgery lingerie market to create an award-winning company.”