Waxing lyrical about a 14 year-old candle-maker at Shannon Duty Free

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Shannon Airport has been the starting point for many illustrious travel retail careers, including duty free industry founder Dr Brendan O’Regan and the sector’s 21st century elder statesman, Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO Colm McLoughlin. And it may have just set a remarkable young teenager on his way to a long and successful journey in the business.

Evan Quaid, a 14 year-old student from Castlemahon in Limerick, has become surely the world’s youngest travel retail supplier after having his product listed at Shannon Duty Free.

After winning the junior category of the National Student Enterprise Programme in 2017,  Evan messaged the Shannon Airport Instagram account asking for his Quaid Candles to be listed.

After meeting Evan and his mother Triona, the Shannon Duty Free team “didn’t think twice”. Shannon Airport Head of Commercial Darren Smyth said that they were struck by Evan’s enthusiasm, entrepreneurship and the quality of the product. “Evan is a remarkable young man and it’s already clear that he has a very bright future in business ahead of him,” Smyth said. “We were impressed by his enterprise in the first instance and then wowed by his enthusiasm and determination when we met him.

Hands-on entrepreneur: Evan Quaid, aged 14, is welcomed to his product display at Shannon Duty Free by Shannon Airport Head of Commercial Darren Smyth.

“He got the idea for the candle-making business from his favourite YouTube vlogger, bought a candle-making kit and it started from there. That’s the type of ‘can-do’ spirit that has epitomised Shannon over the years.

“We want him to be the first but not the last young entrepreneur to have their goods featured here and we would ask any others out there that are producing non-perishable items to see this as an opportunity for themselves.”

Evan Quaid said, “I’m delighted to get my candles into Shannon Duty Free. I contacted a number of stores about stocking my candles and Shannon Duty Free came back very quickly, said they liked the idea and asked if they could meet my mother and me.

Shannon Duty Free says that any young entrepreneurs between 13 and 18 years who would like to have a product considered for listing should e-mail youngentrepreneur@shannonairport.ie 

“I’ve read up about the history of Shannon Duty Free, that it was the first airport duty free shop in the world [from 1947 -Ed]. With over 1.7 million passengers going through the airport each year, it’s a fantastic opportunity to have the candles stocked.

“The staff at Shannon have been really supportive and this is a really big moment for me. Aside from being a great place to have my candles on sale, this is great promotion for the candles also.”

Natural-born entrepreneur: Evan is clearly prepared to burn the candle at both ends.

Shannon Airport Managing Director Andrew Murphy said, “Shannon Duty Free has been a supporter of local businesses from its origin. In recent years we have put a significant focus on featuring local producers in the O’Regan Food Emporium [named after the founding father of Shannon Airport and global duty free Dr Brendan O’Regan -Ed] and the Shannon Design section.

“We currently have 50 Irish suppliers with over 100 different products on sale in the store and now we have Quaid Candles sitting proudly among them. “In addition to his entrepreneurship, Evan has shown great enthusiasm and courage.  He’s been a pleasure to deal with and we are all in agreement here that not only has he a really good product but we’re going to be hearing a lot from him in the years ahead.”

Shannon Duty Free asks any young entrepreneurs between the ages of 13 and 18 years who would like to have a product considered for listing, to e-mail youngentrepreneur@shannonairport.ie for an application form.

What a great story, a compelling tale of a young free-spirited entrepreneur (clearly prepared to burn the candle at both ends) and of how Shannon Airport has stayed true to its roots by believing in local people and local products. It’s surely a case of today Shannon, tomorrow the world for Evan. Though perhaps, given the nature of his product, the young man might do a spot of business in County Wicklow along the way.

Footnote: An excellent biography of the legendary Dr Brendan O’Regan, written by Brian O’Connell with Cian O’Carroll, was published by Irish Academic Press last year. Click here to order a copy of Brendan O’Regan: Irish Innovator, Visionary, Peacemaker from the publisher or here from Amazon.

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