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Lisa McKelvey
The Story
JustHappyTears is a personalised gift company with a poetry twist. At JustHappyTears we put together sentimental gifts for special occasions by creating beautiful pieces of poetry and having them printed on wood, canvas or metal with a picture of the customers choosing. As a former RTE Journalist, I never thought I could grow a successful business from my passion which lay in writing pieces of prose and poetry but after years of having friends and family asking me to write poems for special occasions I decided that there was a market opportunity there and I took the plunge. In terms of my ‘Eureka moment’... there was one particular incident which made me bite the bullet. I I was on a plane journey from Los Angeles to Boston a few years ago. My Mum had been diagnosed with Dementia and I was trying to come to terms with it all. I wrote two poems. One entitled, ‘Remembering’ and one entitled ‘Mama’. The poems summed up everything that I was feeling at that particular time and seeing it written down helped me process everything. One poem was a celebration of my Mum’s life, the other a depiction of reality for our family at that time. It was so cathartic and I still refer to the poem, ‘Mama’ when I want to really remember my Mum as she was. As soon as I got off the plane I sent the poems to my Dad. He immediately facetimed me with tears in his eyes saying he was so grateful to be able to read them everyday. He said it would help him to remember Mum as she was and also to process what lay ahead. That was when I realised I wanted to do this for other people everyday. I wanted to help them preserve and celebrate the special relationships and people they have in their lives.
Best advice given
Think big... building any sort of business is really hard work, so you may as well aim to build a really successful one that goes after a big market.
Business day
Take some time the night before to set up the day ahead and plan for it. A Sunday night planning session is a must for me. Without it, I feel like I'm playing catch up all week.
Mind yourself...
By setting realistic goals and expectations and also by celebrating the little victories.
Don’t be afraid to leap into the unknown, you learn more by trying and failing than by standing still.
Best advice outside business
Proudest moment
Receiving our very first JustHappyTears order :)
Funniest moment
Jeepers! I make mistakes everyday, it’s hard to pinpoint one! That’s the essence of building a business! I do try though to learn from them and laugh at myself!
Forge ahead… don’t listen to the naysayers. Try to block out the negative and embrace any advice that people are willing to give. You can discard it if you want to but always listen first.
A younger you?
People who stand up for what they believe in and advocate for others despite being the lone voice and facing criticism along the way.
anthem for business
Harvest Moon by Neil Young. It’s an example of a beautifully written love story using wonderful imagery and metaphors. It tells a life story and love story and that’s exactly what we do everyday!
"why" For business
I’ve always been a writer and I saw an opportunity to use my passion to create beautifully sentimental gifts for other people in an underserved sentimental gift market.
other jobs
Journalist & Newsreader - 5 years in the RTE Newsroom in Dublin on radio and television. Prior to that I worked as a journalist at Highland Radio in Co. Donegal for 5 years and also with the Donegal Democrat Group of newspapers. I also freelanced with Newstalk Radio.
At a personal level, I want to continue enjoying making a career out of doing something I love. At a professional level, I want to use my passion to grow a successful global business in the sentimental gift space and JustHappyTears aims to be a leader in that space.
Our customers always come back to us to thank us for helping them produce a gift that their loved one will cherish forever. We hear 'once in a lifetime gift' from them repeatedly. We’ve captured their story for them, and that’s something that’s really important to us. It’s how JustHappyTears differentiates itself from our competitors in the sentimental gift space. There are so many personalised gifts available out there, from personalised socks to photo books. We are different. A picture book captures some moments in time, our gifts capture love stories and life stories in their entirety and that’s what we pride ourselves on.
Unique selling point
causes or projects
passionate about
I am a board member of the non profit, Self Help Africa here in Boston. SHA works to foster entrepreneurship in some of the poorest countries in the world. I've had the amazing opportunity to go to Africa with the organisation to see some of the best entrepreneurs in the world bettering their lives with few resources and a steely determination. It was a life changing experience. I'm also involved with the Irish American Partnership which was last year involved in implementing a programme to promote poetry in schools in Ireland.
get into your industry
Figure out what you have to offer, keep knocking on doors and ask for advice! People are very generous with advice if they feel that you are genuinely focused, interested and want to learn.
People can find you
Dog - my baby 'Harvey' the mini labradoodle!! :)
The Hours
song to tell your story
Bob Marley - Three Little Birds
interesting facts
I'm a Donegal (Dungloe) girl living in Boston. I'm a world champion Irish dancer. I love watching snooker! :)
1,000 euros!
Marketing for JustHappyTears
unaccompanied concert
Slane - U2