5 min with… Shannen Keane from Diva Boutique Bakery

shannen keaneTell us about your business!

There are two separate premises in Ballinspittle Village.  A cafe and across the street there is the bakery & deli.

At the cafe we serve breakfast, brunch and lunch…coffee, teas and cakes. We like to support local producers, use organic fruit and veg when we can. The cafe has a definite North American feel, since I am originally from Seattle. We make everything on site that we can, most of all of our sauces are made onsite, we bake our own bread and brioche, we make our own pickles and jams.

The bakery bakes fresh daily…we have a beautiful sourdough bread that we’ve won and been award for… we hand roll all of our croissants and Danishes! Cookies, cakes, brownies and tray bakes are all coming out of the oven fresh throughout the day! We also have a bit of a cult following for our lemon meringue pie!

Please tell us what being a business owner / co-owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

When I first came to Ireland 22 years ago, on a family visit (I got married to a lovely Galway man) I noticed that there was a very limited cafe/coffeehouse culture…Our girls were small at the time and I wanted to open a cafe in Seattle, but in Seattle you have to open and ready for business at 5-6 a.m.! I just knew that would not be suitable to raising a family.  So we decided to make the move to Ireland. As the hours of business are a little more sociable.  We set up in Kinsale and the place was buzzing!  I had a great support network from other moms, since the girls dad was a commercial fisherman in Alaska, he would be gone for months at a time.  The first cafe was a bit alternative and different; you could say it had a “Friends” vibe about it.

What were you doing before you started your business?

I was a commercial fisherwoman in Dutch Harbour Alaska

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Running my business! Managing to keep my employees happy for years of employment is a great feeling, we have a very low staff turnover

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

I actually hadn’t got a lot of advice, I kind of learned as I went along, and sometimes it was the hard way.

But one thing maybe I’ve heard over and over again: Keep up on your books/accounts!  Very important

Which advice would you give to women who would like to start their own business?

Know your client/customer base… There are things in the cafe/bakery that I would love to change or take off the menu, but, there are people who come in and eat the same thing every time they come in, and if I was to take that off the menu, there could be mutiny!

If you could start your business all over again, what would you do differently?

Have a great accountant right from the start… I have a great one now, who is very positive and helpful…even when I think things aren’t going well, she always reminds me of how I am doing better each year, it may be baby steps but it’s all in the right direction.

Where do you shop?

Shopping? What’s that?!! ha ha, I spend very little time shopping.  But when I do I try to support local, La Vie en Rose next door to the cafe is one of my favourite shops!

What do you wish you had more of in your life?


What do you wish you had less of? 


What’s your favourite ‘me time’ activity?

Checking out of the cafes, restaurants, making really great cocktails at home!

You have a night off (from the kids) and unlimited funds: what do you do?

My girls are 22 and 18 now, so I have plenty of nights off! If I had unlimited funds? Fly to Paris for a beautiful dinner. That’s a dream.

What are your top 3 favourite places in Cork/ Munster?

Grove House in Schull

Glebe House Gardens in Baltimore and recently Ballyvolane House

What’s your favourite bar and restaurant in Cork?

I love the energy in arthur mayne’s, Ramen is great,  I just peeked into the Elbow Lane and it looks brilliant! For coffee it’s FILTER Brew Bar on Georges Quay. There are a lot of new places sprouting up that i would like to try as well

Which two women in business would you like to see on the blog?

Katarina Runske from Grove House

Sharon from LaVieEnRose


Website: www.divaboutiquebakery.com

Facebook: Diva Boutique Bakery & Cafe

Twitter: @Dvaboutiquebake

Instagram: Divabakes