Empowering Success: A Journey of an Alumna Entrepreneur, Aisling Cullen

Aisling Cullen and Thanksplants products

In the heart of Griffith College's historic campus, dreams are nurtured, ambitions are kindled, and futures are shaped. Among the countless stories that have emerged from these halls, few are as inspiring as that of Aisling Cullen.

Aisling studied an honours media degree, currently our BA in Communications and Media Production, back in 2002. While her academic pursuits were outstanding, Aisling also took advantage of various extracurricular activities, one such activity was an internship through the videography module lecturer with New York Fashion Week. While talking about her experience of the internship she mentioned, “Going over there, I would kind of have to make my way through, I don't know Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake or all the celebrities; speak to the designer and like, get notes for the show. So, when you're in that kind of intimidating circumstance, you have to learn to become fearless. That really helped me through my business career that if you want to get something done, you have to just cut through all the crap and be able to talk to the right person.”

Aisling started Thanksplant.co in 2020, a vegan and meat-free product that has been a growing presence on Irish supermarket shelves in recent years. The inspiration for the business came from Aisling’s passion for cooking & food concepts. “I'm a vegan, but my husband isn't. When I would bring home meat substitute products, trying to get him to eat less meat. He'd kind of flipped to the back of the pack and he'd look at the ingredients and refused to eat them as he couldn’t understand those ingredients.”

“That’s when I decided to make my own kind of meatless meats at home, but this time I kind of put in all good ingredients that you know, like cannellini beans, pearl barley, vegetables.” Aisling’s family quickly became a huge fan of this new meatless meat. Here is where she found a business opportunity with the potential for growth.

When asked about when is the right time to follow your passion, Aisling had a very crucial piece of advice to give, “I don't think there is the right time, but I wish I did it when I was younger. Once you know and understand what field you should be and what you know, you're going to be passionate about it. If you feel that you can, take the jump and go into it.”

Lastly, one advice that Aisling has for all students graduating from college, is one of her favourite quotes, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, be prepared that things will get hard. There's going to be choppy waters ahead and it's up to you to navigate, when things do get very hard you just need to take a step back and then just slowly put one step in front of the other and things tend to resolve their way”.

“Just don't stay still, just keep moving and then just like I said earlier, you know, be fearless, get on the phone, something needs to get sorted. Get talking to somebody's phone around. If that person is the wrong person, give them a call anyway, and maybe they'll know the right person to speak to on.”