‘People buy from people’. That’s according to Kevin Lynch (Airmid Natural Irish Skincare), who, along with Sallyann Marron (Sallyann’s Handmade Bags) and Urs Harttung (Bearfoot Enterprises) has just returned from the Urkult folk festival in Näsåker in mid-Sweden. The three West of Ireland craftspeople showcased and sold their work, all handmade in counties Clare and Galway, directly to festival-goers at Urkult’s craft market. They were supported by the Western Development Commission through a creative momentum project.
‘Participating in the Urkult folk festival gave me the freedom to be proud of my craft and to present it to a whole new audience,’ says Urs, originally from Switzerland but now based in Headford. Urs upcycles wood and other materials to produce a range of original products. For his unique Coo-Jo, he uses biscuit tins to create a banjo-like musical instrument. An idea that proved a big hit with festival-goers. ‘I’ve received invitations to come back and give two workshops and there was a lot of interest in my products that I’m very hopeful will lead to future orders’, he said.
According to West Clare’s Sallyann Marron, ‘I’ve found out that Swedish people like my bags as well, and that’s really encouraging’. Sallyann uses recycled jeans in the linings of her bags, making each a unique creation. During a Pecha Kucha event at Urkult, she explained exactly how she creates one of her highly individual bags.
Kevin Lynch found that people at Urkult, which has a very eco-friendly ethos, were genuinely interested in his range of organic and natural skincare products. ‘Our organic production of flowers and botanicals in the Burren was a story that really caught the Swedes’ imagination. I expect we’ll get a big increase in online sales to Sweden,’ he added.
In total, eight craftspeople from the West of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Finland were funded to participate in Urkult through a creative momentum project, an EU co-funded project supporting the development of the creative industries sector across Europe’s Northern Edge. The project operates the www.MyCreativeEdge.eu website and in the West of Ireland is implemented by the Western Development Commission and NUI Galway.