Meet Miriam an Irish entrepreneur in Spain
Today’s interview is an interesting mix of European lifestyle, love story, and being brave to take action. Let me introduce you to Miriam, an Irish Entrepreneur in Spain.
Hi Miriam, please let us know where you’re from?
Where are you currently located?
Tell us a little bit about you and what made you start travelling in the first place?
Like most Irish students I worked abroad during the summer holidays during my university years. Working for the majority of the summer and then travelling before returning to studies in the autumn. I spent a full year in Madrid studying and working and from there my first major travelling experience was to Morocco & solo. It was somewhat terrifying being alone and navigating a new culture at 24 especially one so dramatically different from what I knew, but it was also 100% exhilarating. There is something about being in a totally different culture that wakes you up completely to your own life and its unique possibilities.
Tell us 3 things you love about your new lifestyle and what do you miss from your home country.
The climate in Sitges allows for being outdoors all year round. 300 days of sunshine is definitely a reason to be here. I love the culture of eating out and the food is pretty amazing; be it a humble tapa or something more upmarket – there are several fabulous restaurants on my doorstep. And of course, there are the Spanish people… I suppose I am a little biased having married a Spanish man. They will never beat the Irish of course but it has to be said that they’re a very close second 🙂
I miss the familiarity of Ireland – the pub scene, the sense of humour and of course my friends & family but I try to visit every summer and there is no place on earth more beautiful than Ireland (when the sun shines!). So I go when I can, I get my fix, and then I’m ready for more of what Spain has to offer!
Tell us about your current business – how did that come about?
My business is a luxury villa rental business. My husband and I got into this business quite blindly by first renting just our own home. When a number of friends & acquaintances asked us to manage their homes we realised that there was a real business opportunity to expand and take it seriously year-round. The business has grown organically and we went from 4 villas to 9, 12, 16, and 10 years later we are managing 28 villas almost all exclusively and represent 10 large Estate homes.
Our website is www.utopia-villas.com and you can check us out on Instagram on @utopia.villas and Facebook UtopiaVillasSitges.
As a foreigner, was it easy to settle down in Spain and start your own business?
I didn’t find it hard to settle here however when I moved here first I was travelling a lot with a career in Professional Training & Development and being away so much probably slowed my integration a little initially. Emilio, my husband, was also new to Barcelona when we arrived and so everything was new for him too. Nevertheless, it definitely helped with the integration to have someone from Spain translate the more subtle aspects of the language and culture.
Being a foreigner in any country has its challenges and Spain is no different. What helped me was that I had a connection with Spain that had developed over years of visiting on holidays, studying, and working. I suppose my love affair with Spain really started when I was about 7 years old when I think about it.
What advice would you give to anyone willing to become a digital nomad or set up his or her own business overseas?
That’s a tricky one. So much depends on the business, the country and the person in question. I think timing is really important. We set up a business that didn’t take off exactly as we wanted it to and that was 100% down to timing. We pushed ahead with an idea when we probably should have paused and asked if the moment was really the right time. I believe every experience will yield a piece of advice.
You have to look in and ask yourself if this is really what you want to do as it can be tough sometimes to bring so many skills to a new business idea. In the early days, you have to do everything yourself. You have to look outside yourself and see if there really is a market now for your idea and then look forward and ask yourself if there is scope for the future for that idea.
Be very careful what advice you listen to and be prepared to constantly adapt!
Thank you very much Miriam for sharing your story and for helping others discover this beautiful part of Spain.
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