Giftware and craft companies have secured new business worth more than £100,000 from taking part on an Invest Northern Ireland stand at the Showcase exhibition in Dublin earlier in the year.
The success of local companies at the event, Ireland’s biggest international event for the giftware and craft industry, has encouraged 16 enterprises to sign up for next year’s show from 23-26 January at the RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin.
Included in the Northern Ireland group are five companies that will be taking part for the first time at Showcase 2006 with Invest NI. The newcomers are Catherine Scott Ceramics, Newtownstewart; Firebox, Belfast; JeGila, Strabane; Cathy Villiers Design, Belfast; and The Post Card Company, Omagh.
Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade director, describes Showcase as “an essential monitor of evolving trends in giftware and crafts in Ireland and further afield”.
He adds: “Substantial business has been secured by a group of Northern Ireland companies in the months following their participation in the 2005 exhibition. Several secured orders during the show while other companies followed up contacts made at the event to win worthwhile business.
“Many of our companies have found Showcase an important platform for launching new products and an effective arena for emerging designers and small companies to introduce themselves to buyers from regions including North America,” he adds.
The Northern Ireland group at Showcase 2006 will be among around 700 exhibitors at the event, which is marketed internationally by Enterprise Ireland. This attracts over 10,000 visitors on average from over 30 countries and all parts of the island of Ireland.
John McKeag, who runs Firebox, a specialist in contemporary ceramics and prints, with wife Valerie, says: “Showcase will enable us to display our unique Fine Art-based skills to an international audience. It will also be useful for market research by enabling us to test out products and to see what current trends are in vogue.”
Jill Graham, of JeGila Design, a silver jewellery business in Strabane, adds: “I’ve already taken part in a number of specialist shows in Britain and attracted a considerable amount of interest. At Showcase, I’ll be able to reach a wider audience including buyers from the US.”
She set up JeGila Design in the summer of 2002 after graduating from Loughborough University School of Art and Design with a BA Honours in Silversmithing and Jewellery. She takes her inspiration from the natural beauty of the Sperrin Mountains in Tyrone, and often uses real
plants and flowers as part of her work.
She has perfected a technique of trapping real flowers in resin to produce a new and unique range of jewellery.
Successful companies last year included Sign and Time, a Hillsborough clock maker; Eden Pottery in Millisle; the Feel Good Aroma Company, Downpatrick; and Duile Le Cheile, a Draperstown pottery business.
Stephen McGinn, of Duile Le Cheile, which produces hand thrown pottery with a strong Celtic theme, says: “Showcase has proved to be one of my most successful sources of business over the years.”