Selling is harder than we think!
A couple of years ago I launched a limited edition Greenside Up seed gift range that was not only available in various outlets and online shops. The support and encouragement I received from so many of you, not only in terms of promotion and publicity, but also from feedback and sales was tremendously heart lifting. I was thrilled that they were so successful and that so many of you bought the seed gifts for friends, family as well as yourselves and not least that the seeds grew and produced so much produce!
Selling a product as opposed to a service was a valuable learning curve and gave me a much greater appreciation and insight into the retail business. Like so many small craft business’, I designed, developed, printed and made up the products myself. That was the easy part. As the two community garden groups I was working with found, getting out there and marketing, promoting and selling our wares takes a whole new set of skills as well as a tremendous amount of time!
Irish Made Christmas Gift Ideas
We are however, blessed in Ireland to be surrounded by hardworking people who continually create wonderful products and crafts that can enrich our lives – we just need to support them. Guaranteed Irish undertook some research in 2013 and found that if families spent €4 a week more on Irish products, the country would be able to create over 6,000 jobs. Imagine the change in people’s lives!
With that in mind, if you’re looking for ideas to help you find Irish made Christmas gifts for friends and loved ones over the coming weeks, here’s my own favourite Top Ten Irish made items, any one of which I’d love to see under my Christmas tree, and all fairly local to me.
In no particular order of preference:
1. Purity Belle Candles
I’m loving the ethos behind the Purity Bell range of candles available from their website. The candles are made from non GM soy wax, no palm oil is used and Cliona specialises in making them in recycled containers. Just look at these beautiful tea-cup candles. As a result of spotting these I’m constantly on the lookout in charity shops for china tea cups to drink my tea out of but I think Cliona has beaten me to them all!
2. Zwartbles Rugs & Yarn
I’m currently knitting away, making Christmas gifts with wool from the adorable black Zwartbles sheep that graze in close by Bennettsbridge, County Kilkenny.
If you don’t like your presents in kit form, how about becoming the owner of one of the 100% pure wool rugs designed by Suzanna Crampton, take a look at the Zwartbles.ie website here for more information.
3. Foxglove Lane Photography
I’ve watched Catherine’s photographic skills develop through her blog over the past couple of years and was delighted when she began to sell her prints and cards online as it meant I could see them on my walls! Here’s the link to the Foxglove Lane website where you might find it difficult to choose just one image!
4. Roisin Markham Art
I was aware that Roisin Markham from Wexford makes, among other things, exquisite textile art but it wasn’t until I saw her stunning display at the Wexford Heritage Park that I realised how beautiful textiles can be when highlighted in frames. This image is my personal favourite but there are several more. If you’re interested in purchasing one of Roisin’s pieces or finding more of her art, contact her directly email@example.com for details.
5. Martin Marley Ceramics
I blogged about the moment I was prompted to buy an exquisite ceramic bowl made by Martin Marley at a pop up shop in Carlow last year. I haven’t tired of holding it or running my finger around its soft surface. If you’d like to see more of Martins work, contact him at Kilgraney House for details of stockists.
6. Klaus Hartmann Pottery
Klaus’ pottery is designed and fired in both modern and traditional kilns from his home. He has several pieces in his range, including cane toppers and plant markers for the garden, but for indoors I’m especially fond of his candle centre pieces.
Klaus and Heike (see below) will be exhibiting their wares at the National Craft Fare at the RDS on the 4th to the 8th December.
7. Basketry from Baunafea Willow Works
Heike Kahle’s willow work is well-known in the south-east and her basketwork is grown and handmade just two miles from my home. I’d be hard pressed to choose between any of her products as they are all extraordinarily beautiful and I’ve seen first hand the love and care that goes into making each and every piece.
Klaus & Heike are regulars at Kilkenny Farmers market on Thursdays if you’d like to see more of their work.
8. Siobhan Jordan Art
The walls in our home are for hanging pictures and art and it’s just as well as Siobhan Jordan is another favourite artist of mine! I’m entranced by her quirky and fun yet unusual and detailed prints.
9. Ironwork from Bramble Cottage
Bramble Cottage Forge create bespoke pieces forged from iron and steel in nearby Castlecomer. I’m loving this bottle opener available from their Etsy Store – one item that’s a must in every household at Christmas!
10. Sacred Ireland Book
Finally, no home is complete without a coffee table book and Jane Donald’s Sacred Ireland, Sacred messages would be a special one to buy or be given.
Printed in 2011 Jane’s book hasn’t lost it’s edge. Insightful messages coupled with beautiful imagery of this ancient isle we live on would make this book top on my wish list.
It was difficult to choose just ten items for this post, there are so many beautiful products out there. I haven’t been sponsored or paid to recommend them to you but chose them for my own love of the products and that they all come from local friends, neighbours or business’ I’ve come across over the past couple of years.
Will you be making an extra effort to support and shop Irish this Christmas?