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11th Jun 2017

Meet the mumpreneur: Zarah Hartung from mother-and-child boutique Cherish Me

Trine Jensen-Burke

Zarah Hartung always knew she wanted to start her own business one day – although just what that business was to be she wasn’t quite sure of.

In the end, finally finding her passion came down to timing, a little heartache and having the guts to follow your dreams.

We recently sat down with the mum-of-two to see just how she does it all.

 How and when did you first come up with the idea of Cherish Me?

Growing up with an entrepreneurial father I had always dreamed of following in his footsteps and hoped that one day I would start my own business. After graduating from college at 19, I unfortunately came down with ME, a chronic and debilitating illness that left me completely bed bound for a few years. But after a long road to recovery I met my husband who turned my life around and made me believe that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. So, I went back to work as a consultant for a luxury beauty brand which I loved.

Two years after my husband and I got married and dreamt of starting our own family, and got pregnant straight away, but sadly suffered a miscarried Luckily, we were blessed a few months later and the following year I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. As a baby, our son developed infantile eczema and we found ourselves looking for organic, ethically sourced baby products from Europe as there was nothing available in Ireland at the time.

A couple of years later, when we were expecting our second baby, my husband and I talked about one day starting our own family business and bringing some of our favourite baby products to Ireland. And the fate stepped in and this idea was fast tracked after my husband was made redundant due to the recession.

Suddenly, we found ourselves with a very difficult decision to make, as there was just no work available in my husband’s field as an aircraft engineer. Emigrating seemed the only option, but we didn’t have the heart to leave all our family behind so we decided to stay and give things ago. During this time, my husband returned to college to complete an MA while at the same time building our website. I began to market and get ready to launch our new business, Cherish Me – a name we decided on after discovereing how precious life really is and we wanting to cherish every minute of that with our family.

When did you launch?

In October 2010, right after the birth of our daughter, we launched Cherish Me – initially as an online only business. I had just started my maternity leave from my job, so it seemed like the right time to start our new business. But it wasn’t until two years later, in 2012, when we opened a small showroom in Dublin’s Fashion City that the business really started to grow, and in 2013, we opened our first store in Ballinteer, South Dublin.

Two years later, with the economy here in Ireland still feeling rather uncertain, we felt it was the right time to go international and we launched a German version of our store ( which has been building momentum and is continuing to grow.

What were the biggest challenges?

Like any new business it takes time to get off the ground, especially when you have no financial backing to get you started, so it was absolutely a case of working from the ground up. In the early days of starting the business I approached the Credit Union for a small personal loan and got our first box of stock.

Another challenge at the beginning, of course, was returning to work after my maternity leave and finding myself working two jobs while also trying to balance family life. To say it was difficult was an understatement. I would spend my days off with the kids while working on the business during their nap times, and then we would work late into the night, marketing and building the business. It eventually all got too much and eventually, we decided the best thing was for me to hand in my notice to my then’main’ job and concentrate on our business full time. In hindsight, it was the best decision I had ever made.

How do you combine running a business with being a mum?

In the beginning, it was very difficult as the kids were so young and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them, so I continued to work around their nap times. I feel very blessed now that the business has grown and we have staff to help, I now have a lot more time to spend with my kids. Now that the children are in school I can do a lot of my work from home so I am there to collect them and on the days I am in the shop my husband looks after them.

What are the biggest thrills?

There are so many aspects of the job that I love. I love that it is a family run business and that I get to work alongside my mum, who has been an amazing support to us along the way. Not to mention I feel very blessed to have such a professional and dedicated team who I would be lost without. We are so passionate about what we do and especially love meeting families with young kids and couples expecting their first baby. Being parents ourselves we have experienced the same excitement, but also understand how overwhelming it can be when choosing the right products.

We wanted to bring a whole new shopping experience to our store, so apart from being very specialised in what we do, we also have a personal shopping service as well as a children’s play area to keep the little ones amused. We also have a nursing and changing facility to make things easier, as we understand that customers are traveling from all over the country and from abroad to visit our store.

Another aspect that I thoroughly enjoy is traveling around Europe and meeting with our suppliers and getting to learn more about how our brands are produced. It has been such a rewarding journey so far and I am delighted that we have been able to create some employment in these current times too.

What is next for you and the business? 

We have so many plans for Cherish Me. First of all, we will continue to expand globally and build on the brand. The next step is the launch of our new kids concept store called ‘Josh & Jenna’ (named after our two children who have inspired us the whole way).

Over the last few years I have discovered so many wonderful brands that are design-led in kid’s fashion and Scandinavian decor  and toys, which are not yet available in Ireland, so it has created a fantastic opportunity to add them to our range.  We will be launching Josh & Jenna Kids at our Cherish Me store in Dublin and online at this month which we are so excited about.

What is your advice for other mums dreaming of starting their own business?

The best advice I can offer to mums dreaming of starting a business, is follow your heart – but also make sure to do all the research beforehand. And make out a detailed business plan before you start. Try to keep your overheads as low as possible and don’t be afraid to negotiate with suppliers and courier companies to get the best rates.

Don’t forget to join up with your local Enterprise Board, as there are lots of courses you can avail of and grants that you may be entitled to. Make sure to network as much as possible, as you can learn so much from people who have been there before you, and it’s also a wonderful way of sharing advice and getting recommendations.

Take advantage of social media to reach out and interact with your new and existing customers, but most importantly be true to yourself and make sure to allocate ‘me time’ as it’s very easy to lose yourself when you are juggling family life and work.

Visit Cherish Me at their beautiful South Dublin Store or shop online at and don’t forget to watch out for their new kids concept store, specialising in beautiful nursery & kids décor & toys coming later this month at .