Whitehead-based Lighthouse Cards has won its first export business by taking part in an Invest Northern Ireland organised display at a recent international exhibition.
The company has won an order to supply its range of individually hand-painted cards to the award winning Dubai Duty Free (DDF) at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, now one of the world’s fastest growing tourism centres.
The deal followed a contact made by Heather Craig of Lighthouse Cards with a senior DDF buyer when she took part at the annual Showcase international craft industry exhibition held in Dublin.
The company’s range of greetings and other cards are now on sale at the airport which handles over 20 million passengers annually and is the busiest in the Middle East.
Mrs Craig said: “Winning business from such a prestigious organisation as Dubai Duty Free is a marvellous stamp of approval of the quality and innovation of our cards. It was my first time at Showcase and it certainly proved to be a wise move. Invest NI had organised an eye-catching stand that attracted a great many visitors to my display and the presentations from other local companies.
“The contract enables us to reach a huge international marketplace, because Dubai International handles around 20 million passengers a year and has a duty free that is recognised as among the very best retailers in the world of high quality products,”
Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade director, welcoming the company’s success, said: “This is a good example of how a small craft-based enterprise can access international customers by taking part in our trade programme which includes participation at successful exhibitions such as Showcase and Pulse.
“Our Passport to Export programme also helps newcomers to exporting to maximise the business potential in taking part in such events,” he added.
Lighthouse Cards, which employs two people, also secured business by taking part in the Invest NI stand at the Pulse show in London for design-led lifestyle products.
The company was formed in 1999 by Mrs Craig with assistance from the Business Start programme provided by Carrick Enterprise Agency.
She had identified a gap in the market for hand painted cards for occasions such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and general greetings. After extensive research and using her knowledge gained from studying Business at Sheffield University, she decided to set up Lighthouse Drawing Rooms, her own small business.
Each card is painted individually to designs that she develops in her Whitehead workshop.
The company’s clients include the prestigious Harvey Nichols department stores in London and Leeds, the National Trust- Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre, the Irish Linen Centre, Ulster Weavers and a number of independent retailers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.