May 10, 2024 by Rikki Thompson
A Day In The Life
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Trinity Gift Shop in Lurgan began its journey 22 years ago with a different vision in mind. It was originally intended to be more of an interiors shop, but when the property market took a downturn, Fiona Mitchell and her mum, had to make a tough call. They realised that sticking to the original business model wasn’t going to be sustainable in the changing landscape.

With their incredible adaptability and determination, the duo made a bold decision. Altering the course, The Trinity Gift Shop was formed and this laid the foundation for its future success. The ability to recognise the need for change and their willingness to take risks truly paid off

But let’s start from the beginning. After finishing 6th year, Fiona followed her passion for fashion and enrolled at the University of Ulster in Belfast. There, she immersed herself in the world of Fashion Design and Textile Art, honing her skills and expanding her creative horizons. The experience was ‘absolutely amazing’, and she fell in love with the process of bringing ideas to life through fabric and design.

Speaking to UrbanABC, Fiona explained, “I earned a BA Honours degree in Fashion Design and Textile Art. Art was my favourite subject in school, deeply inspired by my beloved art teacher. This early passion fuelled my childhood dream of becoming an art teacher”

But life has a funny way of surprising us, doesn’t it? While art and teaching were childhood dreams, the entrepreneurial spirit within Fiona began to emerge. Inspired by the dynamic retail landscape and the desire to make a positive impact, Fiona and mum Mona took the leap and founded Trinity Gift Shop in 2002. Located in the heart of Lurgan at 17 Marketplace, the store quickly became a hub of creativity, community, and connection.

Running a retail business is no easy feat. The dynamic duo navigate the complexities of e-commerce, staying on top of trends, and delivering exceptional customer experiences. It’s a constant learning process, and Fiona is always seeking ways to grow and develop as a leader.

“I absolutely loved learning and continue to do so. I recently finished a Growth and Leadership Course at Queen University to further expanding my knowledge and skills to propel Trinity Gift Shop forward” said Fiona.

But it’s not just about the business. It’s about the community. Fiona and Mum Mona strive to create a space where people feel inspired, where they can find unique and meaningful gifts, and where local artisans and creators can showcase their talents. Trinity Gift Shop isn’t just a store; it’s a gathering place, a hub of creativity, and a catalyst for bringing people together.

At The Trinity Gift Shop, family is at the core of everything they do. Led by Mona, Fiona describes her mum as “a formidable force, the strength behind the duo” Combining their strengths and expertise in the buying process they have curated a remarkable selection of products. Their collaboration extends beyond the buying process; it encompasses the essence of the store itself. The seamless blend of their individual tastes and styles has resulted in a diverse and captivating range of items that cater to a wide array of customers.

Mona is affectionately known as the ‘life and soul’ of The Trinity Gift Shop. Her infectious energy and warm personality create an inviting atmosphere that draws customers in. Whether she’s engaging in friendly banter, sharing stories, or offering personalised recommendations, Mum Mona knows how to make every visitor feel welcome and valued. Her genuine passion for the products and her enthusiasm for connecting with people make her an exceptional ambassador for the store.

The collaboration between Fiona and her mum extends beyond their roles within the shop. It represents a shared vision and a deep-rooted connection. Their ability to work together seamlessly, capitalising on each other’s strengths, has been instrumental in the success of The Trinity Gift Shop. The combination of Fiona’s fresh perspective and her mum’s wealth of experience creates a dynamic synergy that resonates with customers and keeps them coming back for more.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented the most formidable challenge to Trinity Gift Shop. With restrictions preventing customers from commuting to the physical store, Fiona knew she had to find a way to keep her business afloat. This obstacle served as a catalyst for change, leading to the launch of the shop’s online platform. Fiona’s swift action and recognition of the importance of e-commerce transformed a crisis into a thriving digital presence. By embracing the power of technology and adapting to the new normal, Trinity Gift Shop not only survived but thrived during lockdowns.

Finding herself now in her early 40’s, Fiona found herself back in the classroom – metaphorically speaking.

“The COVID obstacle spurred the launch of our online business, transforming a crisis into a thriving digital platform that was essential for our survival during lockdowns. The key lesson here is that adaptability and an acute awareness of market trends and economic shifts are crucial in retail. Navigating the transition from a physical storefront to an online business amid a global pandemic marks a significant chapter in my career. This period not only tested our resilience as a business but also underscored the importance of agility in business”.

But Fiona’s impact extends far beyond the walls of Trinity Gift Shop. She is a woman of many talents and passions. In addition to running her own business, Fiona has expanded her professional activities to include business mentoring, running a woman only mastermind group and Founder of The Solo Mum Club.

“Over time, I expanded my professional activities to include business mentoring, contributing my expertise to initiatives at Queen’s University and various charities focused on women. I’m really passionate about nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs, volunteering with Young Enterprise as part of my commitment to the business leaders of tomorrow”.

Clear on her mantra, Fiona’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is simple; “I encourage younger generations to boldly enter the business world, there is an abundance of resources and support for start-ups. Embrace the challenge. There’s plenty of help available, so never hesitate to seek it out.”

In the bustling world of single parenting, Fiona stands as a beacon of strength and resilience. Beyond her professional endeavors, she is a dedicated solo mother of three and leads an active lifestyle. Fiona’s unwavering commitment to her children’s sporting events, as well as her own active pursuits, is truly commendable. However, her impact extends far beyond her immediate family.

Fiona’s mum is not only a fantastic business partner but also an incredible source of support for her. Paying homage to her mother Fiona said, “She’s been a great support to me, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Whether it’s brainstorming new ideas, navigating challenges, or simply being a listening ear, my mum plays a pivotal role in my life. I’m truly grateful to have such an amazing support system in my mum”.

Fiona’s passion for supporting other solo mothers led her to establish The Solo Mums Club, a vibrant and inclusive community that provides a much-needed support for connections and inspiration for single, solo, lonely and mums in Northern Ireland. Alongside her Solo Mums Club partner Steff Renke, the pair organises workshops, meet-ups, and adventurous activities, creating a space where solo mothers can thrive and find solace in their shared experiences.

The Solo Mums Club has become a sanctuary for solo mothers in various stages of life. Through their events and activities, Fiona and Steff have created a space where women can share their triumphs, challenges, and experiences without judgment. The sense of community within The Solo Mums Club is palpable, as members uplift and support one another through the highs and lows of solo parenting.

Fiona’s journey is truly inspiring! From the initial dream of teaching art to now steering a thriving gift shop and leading a vibrant community of inspiring women, she has shown us the power of embracing change and seizing opportunities. Fiona has proven that life’s unexpected turns can be stepping stones to broader horizons, rather than roadblocks. Her evolution reminds us that with resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to ask for help, there are no limits to what we can achieve.

“I hope my story not only inspires but also empowers people to pursue their passions relentlessly, innovate in the face of challenges, and build a fulfilling life and career that truly reflects their aspirations and values. The path to success is rarely a straight line, but a journey of transformative experiences that shape who we are and what we can accomplish. So, dare to dream big, embrace the challenges, and step into your potential, for you can indeed do anything you set your mind to”.


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