Leading craft and design businesses from Meath set for Showcase 2024
Six LEO-supported enterprises display their talents
Some of Meath’s best up and coming craft and design businesses will be part of over 100 companies from across Ireland who will get a chance to meet with buyers from all over the world as part of the Local Enterprise Showcase at the 2024 Showcase event in the RDS, running next week.
An initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices, the Local Enterprise Showcase is a special area at Showcase, running from 21st to 23rd January, that houses a range of Ireland’s newest design talent.
Last year’s overall product winner Tom King, known as 'An Gobha', returns for his second year at Showcase. An Gobha, the blacksmith of the Boyne Valley, offers immersive and interactive experiences of traditional iron age metal forging, delivered with theatre, stories, myths, history and fun. An Gobha also manufactures and sells handcrafted metal and wooden decorative objects, blade works, and period weapons based on ancient Celtic symbols and artefacts.
It will be hard to top the experience an Gobha had last year, when in his first year, he stole the hearts of everyone by winning overall product at Showcase. The publicity this brought to An Gobha Ironworks and Experience has been phenomenal, with guests from all over the world visiting the forge of the smooth road in Bohermeen.
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Kyna Brady of Kyna Maree Luxury Accessories based in Batterstown will be launching a Boutique Collective, a collection of stylish everyday and occasion jewellery and headwear designed to sit perfectly within fashion boutiques and luxury stores, at this year’s Showcase.
At Celtic Clans in Slane, designer Bridget and her husband Cormac Kerrigan re-create ancient family crests, county and provincial crests in a modern and contemporary style. Celtic Clans are artist and history buffs with a grá for heraldry. At Showcase they will launch their new range, 'Celtic Icons', a set of 10 prints celebrating iconic Irish heroes & heroines, hailing from the world of music, literature, politics and folklore.
Another business located right in the heart of the Boyne Valley is Boyne Valley Wools, operated by Alison Fullam Gogan. A sheep farmer, hand wool spinner, felter and knitter, Alison uses the wool from her own flock of Jacob sheep which is all natural in colour to create a wonderful range of handmade crafts all of which are available to buy from her shop which is situated in a converted barn on her farm in Donore.
Exhibiting for the first time at Showcase is designer, Kathryn Leonard, founder of PaperTwigs Designs, a bespoke greeting card and print company based in Wilkinstown. PaperTwigs has grown from the inspiration of creating unique and beautiful cards and gifts to bring joy to the sender and receiver. With a background in art and aesthetics, Kathryn enjoys exploring a wide range of mediums to create artwork with depth and meaning. Collections feature pieces with simple messages, hand drawn graphics and layered mixed media.
“This is my first time exhibiting at Showcase and I am really looking forward to connecting with potential new customers throughout Ireland and to meet with my existing stockists and buyers," she says. "It’s a great opportunity to secure new stockists and agree new deals for the year ahead.”
Kathryn is also a member of Meath Made and goes on to say: “being a member of Meath Made has widened my network within the amazing creative community in County Meath and there is such a range of talent amongst the artist, design, craft community here, we can learn from each other and support other creative businesses. I have taken part in LEO Meath trainings and I also received business mentoring to help me prepare for Showcase, I am really looking forward to Showcase and I am really excited to get to the RDS and get set up.”
Long time friends, Paula McGuinness and Eileen Smyth set up Lus Aromatherapy in 2021, specialising in creating organic cold pressed artisan soaps and organic skincare. Sustainable, organic, vegan, palm oil free, and cruelty free, made using certified organic ingredients and scented using only pure essential oils, they are carefully formulated for all skin types, even the most sensitive.
Paula and Eileen are experienced holistic aromatherapists and their products are created to bring harmony and balance not just to the skin but body and mind in a sustainable way. Eileen Smyth said “after developing the business over the last three years, putting our hands, hearts and souls into it, it really is time to show off our wonderful products to a much wider audience and we will relaunch our website and unveil a new brand at Showcase so its going to be an action packed three days.”
Alison Fullam Gogan of Boyne Valley Wools is exhibiting at Showcase for the first time and is looking forward to three days of networking. Alison is showing her handspun wool, felt pictures and her handmade felt sheep at the show.
Speaking from her home studio in a converted barn on her farm, Alison says: “I am hoping to create some interest in my handmade felt sheep and am keen to meet with new stockists, particularly to develop the export side of my business. I will be bringing my spinning wheel with me and will be doing some live demonstrations of spinning the fleece, so hopefully that will attract some added interest to my stand”.
The event, which is a pinnacle event in the global design and crafts calendar, will open its doors to thousands of buyers from across the world, including Ireland, the UK, USA, mainland Europe, Asia and Africa, generating millions of euros of sales orders during the show.
Showcase is presented on behalf of Design & Crafts Council Ireland, with support from Enterprise Ireland in promoting the trade show internationally through their network of offices overseas, and the Local Enterprise Offices nationwide. Recent participants from Meath include An Gobha, Bríd Fanning Art, Anita Reynolds, Deeca Design, Clare O’Connor Design, Marion Pertherbridge Art, MAR fragrances and many more.
In 2023 there were thousands of national and international buyers in attendance at the event in the RDS and it is expected this will increase again in 2024.
Kieran Kehoe, Chief Executive of Meath County Council said: “Showcase is one of Ireland’s largest trade shows with high profile international buyers and exhibitors. It provides the crafters and designers significant opportunity to grow their businesses from their base here in Meath. The opportunity to exhibit at Showcase is very exciting and can have a huge impact on the makers, helping to secure sales orders for this year and potentially into the future, I would like to wish each of our six LEO clients exhibiting the very best of luck for a successful show.”
Local Enterprise Office Meath has been working with An Gobha, Kyna Maree, Boyne Valley Wools, Celtic Clans, Paper Twig Designs and Lus Aromatherapy on merchandising for their stands, marketing, and sales techniques to ensure they maximise opportunities at the three-day event.
Caoimhe Delany, Business Advisor at Local Enterprise Office, Meath, believes this is an opportunity like no other for up-and-coming craft and design clients looking to make that break through.
“To be exposed to this many high-quality buyers in one place is an incredible opportunity for any business starting out,” she says. “We have six really amazing businesses from Meath attending Showcase this year and if things go well at this event, a business could fill their book for the year and may well establish a partnership that could extend longer than that and help them grow”.
“Even to be here, amongst so many talented creatives in the Enterprise Village, connecting with other businesses from all across Ireland, to get new ideas and to develop their skills in marketing and sales will stand by them going forward. We are really lucky to have the reigning Showcase champion An Gobha with us again this year as a LEO Meath client and if he gets a similar response this year to what he received last year, the Meath section at the Enterprise Village will again be buzzing with activity” she goes on to say “Kyna Maree Luxury Accessories is also a finalist in the Best Newcomer category in the Business of Craft Awards so we have our fingers crossed for Kyna for the awards ceremony on the Monday afternoon,”Caoimhe adds.
This year all Local Enterprise Showcase clients were entered into the Business of Craft Awards. This is the first year of the awards that celebrate the business behind the amazing craft and design products that are behind created across the country.
The awards have three categories; Best Newcomer for the best craft and design business who is exhibiting for the first time, One to Watch for the best craft and design business who has excellent export and international potential and finally Sustainability Champion for the best craft and design business who is excelling in sustainability.
The shortlisted finalists for the inaugural awards are, in the Newcomer Category, Sully & Juno supported by LEO Wexford, Pawpear supported by LEO Waterford and Kyna Maree supported by LEO Meath.
In the One to Watch category the finalists are Bex Shelford Prints supported by LEO Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown, Hanna’s Bees supported by LEO South Cork and Sketchico supported by LEO Galway. And in the Sustainability Champion category the finalists are Irish Socksciety supported by LEO Galway, Palm Free Irish Soap supported by LEO Clare and Conscious Convert supported by LEO Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown.
The awards will take place Monday 22nd January at Showcase in the RDS as part of the overall event. Local Enterprise Showcase is one of several enterprise initiatives run by the Local Enterprise Offices across the year to foster entrepreneurship and help small businesses to start and grow. Other events include Local Enterprise Week, National Women’s Enterprise Day, the National Enterprise Awards, the Student Enterprise Programme and the Local Enterprise Village as part of the National Ploughing Championships. For more information on the Local Enterprise Offices and supports they provide, visit LocalEnterprise.ie