Gráinne Mullins is the owner of Grá Chocolates and a judge on the RTÉ Player Battle of the Food Trucks show.
Mullins (28) worked as a pastry chef for fine dining restaurants before setting up Grá Chocolates in 2020. Last month the handmade chocolate business moved to a factory in the Galway suburb of Ballybrit and sponsored a race during the Galway Races. Mullins’ grandfather, Captain Luke Mullins, ran Galway Racecourse.
What is the most important lesson about money that your career in business has taught you?
Financial planning and budgeting. There are skills that I use on a daily basis in my personal life, like planning for the future, being willing to negotiate, and getting free quotes on everything.
When I started my business I was using my own money and my Covid payments were for that.
Have you been affected by the current period of high inflation?
Absolutely. I drive for work all the time and diesel prices are much more expensive, as is electricity.
Even our garbage collection has just increased by €1. Prices are rising everywhere. On a business level, we see it in everything from the packaging to the ingredients we buy.
Usually when you buy in bulk you hope to see the prices go down, but with inflation the prices are more expensive than when I was buying smaller quantities.
What is the most expensive place you have ever visited?
Azurmendi, a gourmet restaurant just outside Bilbao with three Michelin stars. It was €1000 for two people, but there were around 30 dishes, including snacks, cheeses and petit fours. You pay for the experience.
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
My car, even though it wasn’t really expensive and is now ten years old. One day I will treat myself to a new one.
Would you buy Irish property now?
No. There aren’t many choices and I wouldn’t want to rush into a decision. And I want to have the opportunity to build myself.
Do you always have cash on you?
Yes. I like to have it on me so I can tip if I’m in a restaurant or shopping in a cash-only market.
Do you use any of the digital banks?
I use Revolut mainly to split bills when I go out with friends.
My friends and I have also set up a vault and each of us is putting in €10 a week to pay for hotels and flights to celebrate our 30th birthdays – we’re all going to be 30 in the same year. We are thinking of going to Las Vegas.
Do you have a pension?
I was on the phone this morning to create one.
What was your biggest financial mistake?
Probably buying cheap clothes when I was younger and trying to keep up with fast fashion.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I’m a spendthrift, but I can save when I need to – I spend on restaurants, good food and buying Irish produce.
When I buy clothes for work I try to support Irish designers and buy clothes that last me a long time.
When I worked at Ladies Day at the Galway Races I wore an Aoife McNamara suit. On the day of the race I sponsored, I wore a handmade Róisín Dockry dress in a metallic sky blue material I found while cleaning my grandmother’s house.
She lived on the hippodrome with my grandfather.