Congratulations to the winner of the 2016 Everything Holiday Sweepstakes! Marie Rochele Devenny, the owner of Irish Moon, LLC, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, was randomly selected from nearly 300 entries. Marie will receive a free year of Pro email marketing.

Irish Moon is an online shop specializing in gifts, apparel, and other specialties imported from Ireland and Scotland, or created by artisans of Irish or Scottish descent. Marie had discovered how fulfilling it was to spend her weekends working at a local Irish import store, in contrast to her banking career. “People would leave with such a smile on their faces. I loved working there,” Marie said.

The sudden deaths of two close friends spurred her to take action. “I had the corner office, the title, everything you want at age 35,” Marie continued. “But if I died the next week, what would I have to show for it?” She was ready for her part-time labor of love to bloom into her full-time passion, and in 2013 she launched Irish Moon.

“I started very small, taking products to Irish fairs and festivals and selling online. This part of Pennsylvania is like Little Ireland, with so many people of Irish and Scottish descent. People joke about the Irish drinking, but it’s really about people laughing and having a good time, enjoying one another. That’s what drew me to this connection to my heritage,” Marie said.

Irish Moon still operates primarily online and at heritage festivals in the area. Marie gets help from part-time workers, friends, and family. “My mom is my artistic director!” she said. The hard work has paid off. “My customers’ response has been great. They like the unique, one-of-a-kind items I have, which are different from what they can find at other Irish and Scottish shops. I have a lot of repeat customers.”

Marie Rochele Devenny sells Irish Moon’s merchandise online and at Irish festivals in her area

One area where Marie is excited to expand is her marketing. “When you’re working with a small budget, marketing is a huge challenge. You ask yourself, ‘I have only this much money to spend — What should I spend it on?’” she said, describing a quandary familiar to countless small business owners.

To stay connected with customers, Irish Moon posts regularly on Facebook, and Marie includes a handwritten thank you note in every order she fulfills — a personal touch that only a small business can do, and one that has gone far in prompting customers to make referrals. But launching email campaigns has always seemed a little out of reach, until now.

“It’s just me doing everything, and sometimes I’m not sure what I should be doing,” she said. “That’s why I like VerticalResponse. All the help is right there for me to access. I love free advice — free good advice.” Marie, who was familiar with Deluxe from the checks and banking products she had used in her finance career, entered the sweepstakes when a VR Buzz newsletter prompted her to visit Everything Holiday. She found the 24 days of tips, tools, and festive freebies that make up Everything Holiday to be excellent resources. “Even things I might not need to use right now, it’s nice to know they’re available to me when I do need them. And the things you don’t even think about, like what subject lines to use, are so helpful. You can create a whole campaign from one little trigger.”

Marie’s first email campaign will most likely be a welcome message to her customers, a subscriber list that stands at 30 now but is growing every day. “I’ll probably include a discount code as an incentive for my readers to open the email and make a purchase. Then I’ll start promoting things for the holidays.” And she’ll be able to do much more than that — the Pro plan includes a professionally designed email template, delivery rate review, and Advanced Reporting.

Marie’s long-term goals for Irish Moon will also sound familiar to many small business owners. “I want to grow my business, introduce more products to people who may not know about them, and build a solid base so when I ultimately open a storefront, I have customers already coming in.” Email marketing is a concrete step in that direction, and one she’s excited to jump into.

“I like to try everything and see what works for Irish Moon. It’s just me, so I don’t want to set a ridiculous, strict path — ‘I need to be at a certain place in five or 10 years.’ That’s not how life works. The path will open itself up.”

We’ll be checking in with Marie over the next few months to see how she’s putting her free year of Pro email marketing to work for Irish Moon, LLC. Congratulations again, Marie!

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