Dundalk woman sets up successful gluten free pop-up shop
Aileen Markey from Dundalk has set up a successful gluten-free business called Unglu-d - and it's coming to the Marshes Shopping Centre in May.
This gluten-free pop up shop, which already opened for a time on Royal Hibernian Way in Dublin in late 2017, will be in The Marshes Shopping Centre from the 14th to 20th May - which is also Coeliac Awareness week. The week is organized by the Coeliac Society of Ireland and Supervalu, and Aileen will be doing some fundraising and collections for the society during the week.
The Dundalk woman suffers from coeliac disease herself and this was one of the reasons why she set up Inglu-d: “I was brought up in Mount Avenue and I now live in Annagassan. When I was diagnosed with coeliac disease I was just moving back to Ireland from New York, about two years ago.”
“I was adjusting to the products and brands here and what you could buy in which store. I found I often had to go to three or four shops to find the things I liked. Even though there are ‘free from’ aisles in the supermarkets now, they are not dedicated to gluten-free products so you could easily pick up something by accident that says wheat free or sugar-free but not gluten-free.”
Aileen felt that there was a gap in the market for a shop that caters to Coeliacs only.
“Cross-contamination is also a big fear for us Coeliacs and that can easily happen in shops, even if the product is well packaged.
“That got me thinking about having something completely dedicated to our community, the idea with Unglu-d is it creates a safe experience for you to shop in, and we have done all the hard work by sourcing the product for you so you don’t have to read every label in detail.”
The quirky name of the shop was something that just came to Aileen. “When I was diagnosed I literally felt I’d been ‘Unglu-d’ in more ways than one,” she jokes.
“I had to re-think my whole diet, how I think about food, what I buy, what I eat, and how I can get a balanced diet without gluten.”
“I also felt such a sense of relief at having a diagnosis that it was like a new lease of life, my symptoms started to go away, I could concentrate on things much better… I just felt good in general, so Unglu-d as a name made total sense.”
Unglu-d sell breakfast cereals, breads, cakes, savoury items like pasta and sauces, baking products and lots of sweets and snacks. “A lot of the product I sell are Irish, one of my favourites is Kookee which is a gluten free cookie mix… it’s made here in Dundalk so even better.”
Aileen says that the help available to coeliacs has improved. “I was only diagnosed three years ago so I have been lucky in that there’s much more help available now than there were some years back. When I talk to customers of all ages who’ve grown up with the disease, it was very challenging before, typically you had to go and buy your products in a chemist or a special health food shop.”
“The quality and taste of the products were also not good… they have come a long way and the supermarkets are doing a good job of catering for the needs of the Coeliac community.”
Aileen adds that it can be difficult to get a diagnosis for coeliac disease. “I was really suffering for about six or seven years before I got the final diagnosis. I know I had of the symptoms prior to that, but not as severe.”
“I had various blood tests at different times in my life but nothing showed up, IBS is something that is often blamed or used as a catch-all. There is much more awareness now and I think GPs are more open and willing to do the testing sooner than they were before, this is especially important for children as the sooner it’s identified the better. Coeliac disease can impact their growth development… albeit it’s challenging for the parents.”
If you want to find out more about Unglu-d, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ungludGF/
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