Reflections on a first year in business: Riley

Reflections on a first year in business: Riley

Posted: Wed 13th Apr 2022

Riley, an eco-friendly period products brand, is coming up for its first birthday. 

Founded by Aine Kilkenny, Fiona Parfrey and Lauren Duggan in April 2021, the subscription box company has already raised €475,000, hired its first employee, crossed borders into the UK and Europe, and added a corporate offering. 

Lauren gives us some insights of Riley’s growth in its first year in business.  

Corporate offering 

“When we launched Riley, our initial ambition was the whole subscription direct to customers,” she explains. 

Riley provides ‘a subscription for all your organic period needs’. Vodafone Ireland reached out to Riley to strike up a partnership supplying free period products for their employees.  

“We always had hoped to go down that route, but we didn’t expect it to happen that quickly.

“That was an incredible opportunity and since then we have had a big shift to build out a corporate offering. I think we have 18 corporate contracts now.” 

Brand awareness 

“It’s great because it gives us a lot of brand awareness in offices and it was also great for securing cash flow as well in those early days,” she adds.  

“We are now hiring an account manager to come on board to manage our clients and grow that revenue stream a bit more.” 

Biggest challenges 

Behind all big success stories, there are also many challenges that entrepreneurs must face for the first time and overcome. And the Riley team were no different. 

“One of our biggest challenges was cash flow. Trying to manage cash flow in the early days is always really difficult, which was what drove us to raising money as quickly as possible,” Lauren explains.  

“We launched our pre-seed round before we were six months old, which is quite an early stage to go for investment.” 

Streamlining operations 

Managing stock and supply chain also threw up some challenges for the team. 

“Initially we were trying to manage our deliveries out of Ireland, manually. It was time-consuming. We were physically packing orders and shipping on the ground.

“We have now changed that. We now have two fulfilment centres, one in Northern Ireland and we have one about to open in mainland Europe. That will allow us to streamline our operations and get our products to customers much faster.” 

Marketing costs 

“The cost of digital marketing spends versus acquisitions is just rising so fast,” says Lauren. “We are trying to be more creative about how we market and acquire our customers.

“We are trialling and testing a lot of different marketing routes. We are now looking at doing a lot of ‘out of home’ opportunities. We are looking at sponsoring a bunch of festivals this summer, and we also currently have a billboard campaign running in the UK.” 

Adding value 

Another way Riley is reaching customers and building its community is by adding value through female health education. 

“We try to give as much value as we can on our website, our blog and our social media accounts,” Lauren adds. “We are trying to build more of a community, an environment, where people will come to us for the content and the education,” she adds.

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