06 Oct 2022

International Women's Day: Dundalk's Denise Lauaki on co-founding a multi-million euro business

International Women's Day: Dundalk's Denise Lauaki on co-founding a multi-million euro business

Denise Lauaki

On foot of news that local start up Soothing Solutions would be receiving a major investment from The Redesdale Food Fund, the Democrat chatted to the company’s co- founder and Dundalk woman Denise Lauaki. 

Denise, who grew up on the Red Barns road and went to school in the Marist, co-founded Soothing Solutions with her business partner Sinead Crowther in 2019. 

The company, which according to reports has been valued at over €2.5 million, is based in the Brewery Business Park and makes 100% natural cough and cold remedies for young children.

A late comer to the business world, Denise has had what she describes as a “varied” career path spending ten years as an audio engineer before going into business.

“Once I had my children, I went back to college to reskill, and I studied web development and online marketing through the springboard courses and from there I started a tea company called Freebird Ventures and I ran that for four years. 

Denise says her career change came about as she realised the hours of her audio engineer job didn’t allow for a suitable work-family balance. 

“It was a switch to try to find something that would allow me to balance work life with home life.

The work life balance is clearly something important to Denise as Soothing Solutions is currently trialling a four-day work week for its employees.

“As a company, we’re trying to focus on people’s wellbeing as well as the needs of the company. 

The idea of four-day weeks has been praised for, among other things, allowing parents to spend more time with their children. 

“As female founders maybe we were a bit more aware of that but also for the men we find that giving them extra days off can mean that they can help out in the house a bit more as well, so it’s a balance for everybody.

It was while upskilling for her new business career that Denise met her now business partner, Sindead Crowther.

“Myself and Sinead met at DKIT where we were doing the “New Frontiers” programme with Enterprise Ireland. 

“I had my tea company and Sinead was at Soothing Solutions, so we kept in contact and Sinead eventually asked me to join her as a co-founder of the company so when I saw her product and the potential of it I switched over.

And how has she found the business world as a woman?

“ It can be a little bit harder, I think you have to prove yourself a lot more as a woman in business compared with our male counterparts, people don’t believe you until you do things, whereas you don’t really get that with men.

Denise is clear where she gets that drive “to do” from.

“My mother and my grandmother were always hard workers so they would have always inspired me. I come from a long line of hard workers in my family.

“From a mentoring point of view, Yvonne Scully, who has her own food company, was a great mentor to myself and Sinead as we developed our business. 

Last week, Soothing Solutions made another stride when it became one of only 2 percent of companies with female founders to receive venture capital (VC) funding.

“The effort to diversify the dominated male industry is really struggling and more needs to be done to close that gap and Redesdale is really making a big effort to try to back female founders now which is really great to see and really great for us,” she concluded. 

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