Youlanda Kelly Profile img 1

Women In Business / IWD24

My name is Youlanda Kelly, Director in Des Kelly Interiors.

Since I was raised in the business you could say, it is all I am familiar with. My father used to bring us to work with him as kids. We are a big family, I have 5 brothers and 2 sisters, and over the years, we would have all worked together in the company. Dad put in long, hard hours, working seven days a week, while he was growing the company, so if going to work with him, was how we would see him , that’s what we did (lol) he would give us jobs, answering the phones, delivering leaflets, tidying the rug room, he got us all involved at a young age and taught us all an amazing work ethic.

When I was finished my leaving cert, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do to be honest, and when it came to making decisions about colleges, I wasn’t ready to commit to a law degree when I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, so Dad suggested I take a year out and come to work with him until I knew what I wanted. I really enjoyed it, every day was a learning day, as there are so many different aspects to running a business, and I loved every minute of it, so I quickly knew this was the career path I wanted to go down, and I haven’t looked back since.

I have two beautiful children that I absolutely adore. Without a doubt, they represent my greatest life achievement!  It is possible to balance the demands of running a company with having a happy family life, as long as you stay involved and focused in both personal and professional domains. Finding balance begins with making time for the people in your life who are most important to you. My hope is that they will eventually work in the business, as I have.

I run the company today with my two brothers Greg and Gerardo, and we are very much hands on. I actively manage the company, being deeply engaged in various aspects such as creating content for our social media, handling fittings, customer service, and sales. As a company director, you are responsible for making significant decisions regarding the direction of the business, however since I have grown up in this industry and it is all I am familiar with, these decisions feel instinctive to me, and I never perceive them as a major burden to me. I love being actively involved in all aspects of the business and enjoy the social element of interacting with both customers and staff. It’s not just about being focused on numbers; I value the personal connections and relationships in my work.

I have grown up in this industry, so I believe I have a good understanding of it. We have recognized the shifts in the retail market and thoroughly assessed the way people shop today. As a result, we have made significant investments in renovating our stores, as evidenced by our recently opened location in Westend, Blanchardstown. This store excels in design, layout, and provides a delightful shopping experience for customers, making it the best in its class. We prioritized providing our customers with a positive shopping experience without compromising on our great prices. Our focus is on providing luxury at an affordable price.

We have stripped it all back and really concentrated on our 3 core products, carpetsflooring, and beds. Some of the larger stores such as Coolock and Longmile Road would stock sofas, dining, and furniture, but we have concentrated on doing our 3 core products well in terms of design and layout in the other 8 stores.

We have chosen each item for our stores with great care, ensuring that we offer only the highest quality products to our devoted customers. Establishing the new store in Westend Blanchardstown was a significant milestone for our company, allowing us to position ourselves in a bustling retail park and potentially draw in customers who are unfamiliar with our brand.

This state-of-the-art showroom in Blanchardstown was designed with the changing way customers shop in mind.

We have observed that there is a growing interest among people in making investments in their homes, whether it’s purchasing higher quality flooring, carpets, or even improving their sleep arrangements. To assist customers in choosing the right bed for a better night’s sleep, we have a team of well-trained sales staff in our store. It is of great importance to us to train our staff thoroughly so that we can provide superior service to our customers. In our store, we have special “sleep zones” where customers can try out a variety of pillows and receive advice from our in-house “sleep experts.”

Our customer service team has grown significantly in the last 6 months alone, we want to give the customer the best service and have employed extra people in this department to ensure that we do. Everything we do in business is to give the best possible service to our customers from the minute they walk through the door, until the fitters or delivery men leave their home.

People’s homes are their castle, their sanctuary, therefore, purchasing home interior products is a decision driven by emotion. We aim to make sure customers are satisfied every step of the way and take pride in our ability to provide excellent service.

There are days dedicated to business planning when significant decisions regarding changes within the company need to be made, on other days, the focus is simply ensuring that everything and everyone is functioning smoothly.

I feel fortunate to have my brothers, Greg and Gerardo, by my side as we confront the challenges of running a business together. We make a strong team.

I think the biggest learning moment along the way, the one that stands out the most to me, which was possibly the first time I had to make big, big business decisions, was covid. It was a scary time for all businesses. However, we adapted quickly, and I feel it was a big learning moment for us all. Our free home consultation service grew from this, where we bring the showroom to the customer. This continues to work well for our customers, because we understand that people lead busy lives, and we aim to make it easier by offering to bring our showroom directly to you.

We scaled our business slightly for us to grow, by concentrating on what we do well, and that is flooring, beds, and carpets.

During this period, our online business also expanded, and we are fully conscious of the evolving shopping habits of customers, with online shopping playing a significant role in this shift. We are putting money into a new online store that we plan to debut this summer. I believe that having both physical stores and an online presence is a successful combination for us. Customers still value the ability to physically interact with products, so it is crucial for us to maintain that experience and level of service for them.

We are fortunate to have an excellent team of individuals on our side. For more than five decades, our business has thrived thanks to our dedicated team of staff, with some members having served for over 40 years. This loyalty is cherished by both us and our long-term customers, reflecting the strong foundation laid by my Mam and Dad who transformed the business from selling used furniture to a well-known brand in Dublin and the surrounding areas.

A saying that my Mam, who is my biggest role model, always used and which I live by now.

“Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen”.

What is meant to be will be. Everything has its right time, delays and setbacks are only temporary.

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