EX-APPRENTICE star Grainne McCoy has finally realised her beauty business dream exactly four years on from the announcement of her stint on the BBC show.
The businesswoman, who made the semi-finals of Lord Sugar's competition in 2016, yesterday opened her own "one-stop-shop" beauty salon and store in her home town of Newry.
The business model was one the former teen mum had intended for Lord Sugar to invest in on the TV series but insisted the date of her new store opening was just a coincidence.
She told Sunday Life: "We've opened four years to the day since my name was announced in the papers about being in The Apprentice and that wasn't a date chosen on purpose, it's just coincidental.
"It has a nice kind of symmetry to it, that was my goal back then and has continued to be but I didn't realise it would turn around so quickly.
"It wasn't even planned to be this year but things had been going well, particularly the online store which I set up during lockdown, but I didn't think we would get here to a standalone retail store so soon, it's all come together almost by mistake through Covid-19."
The 35-year-old, who has also worked as a make-up artist for global stars at Cannes Film Festival, admitted that life since the show had been a mixed bag for her as the cash didn't come flooding in after The Apprentice as some viewers might believe.
"It's a bit surreal because over the last four years there have been ups and downs. The first year after the show was tough, people think you come off the show and you're getting all these job offers but I never got paid work until 2017," Grainne revealed.
"People think you get all this money and paid gigs after the show but it's the complete opposite, you're literally grinding 10 times harder than you did prior to the show.
"In 2018 I broke my leg and was out for nine months as well so it hasn't been just smooth sailing over the last four years but I am excited and I can see it coming together.
"My plan was to open this store with Lord Sugar's investment, I didn't get it but I have pulled together the money myself and done it myself."
With the store just opened this weekend, the ambitious Newry woman already has plans to build a business empire.
"My plan is now to chain it, I don't want just one store, I have put all my money into this being something completely different, out there and quirky and I want it to be a huge success."
"I'm gonna be like a chain of McDonald's with the golden arches," she joked, adding: "There's no point having small goals.
"I'm planning on opening a make-up and beauty school in January in the same location upstairs as well, fingers-crossed.."
Give Us Beauty, on Monaghan Street, Newry, aims to be an "all-encompassing beauty emporium" - a retail store for cosmetics with a blow-dry bar, a make-up studio and beauty clinic - and Grainne said she could not have opened the store without help from family and friends.
She added: "I have had a lot of help, my whole family are supporting me, my mum Siobhan is doing all the marketing and my sister Bronagh is working in the store as a manager.
"It's very surreal but I'm so grateful for all the help. Whenever I took it on I said to my sister who was already in the beauty industry, 'Leave your job I need you to come and work for me full time' in the middle of lockdown.
"She told me not a chance, she would play very safe whereas I'm more of a risk-taker, but I managed to convince her and now she is loving life. There's been a lot of hard work and tears as well, I couldn't have dreamed we would get here so quickly."
The former Apprentice star, who became a mum at 15, said seeing her idea become a reality surpassed anything she had previously imagined, adding: "I've been extremely busy, I'll need a month's sleep after this, it's been non-stop but it's all going to be worth it I'm sure. Thankfully it's been going to plan up to now and has slowly come together, there has been stress and sleepless nights but that's all turned in to excitement now.
"I thought it would be nice, what I imagined in my head, but it's absolutely beautiful now in real life.
"This was my original business plan for The Apprentice, a one-stop-shop of a beauty salon and retail store selling different brands.
"During lockdown I started an online store called Give Us Beauty and it has progressed into this. Just over two months ago I saw a store for rent in Newry and just took it, not knowing it was going to break my bank balance.
"I'm very quick off the mark like that, I see it, I want it, I take it and think about it after. With this I have put all the money I have gathered up since The Apprentice into it so it better work."