A hugely #proudmentoringmoment this morning as we realise that there are only 2 more sleeps to go before the fabulously talented Create Kilkenny crafters launch themselves onto the world. We have been developing the programme in tandem with the fantastically progressive Fiona Deegan CEO of Kilkenny Enterprise Board since July this year. The initial Concept behind the programme was to identify what skills were needed to turn a craft into a business and make those who were in start up phase retail ready. Fiona also set the huge goal of bringing as many of the crafters as possible to the extremely high standards required to exhibit at the international Showcase Ireland 2013. Showcase is attended by thousands of international buyers and so is an important platform for the crafters of Ireland.

Due to her experience in building the craft based www.teamwoodcraft.com into an internationally trading business, Aisling Hurley’s latest venture, The Small Business Fairy, was chosen to design, implement and develop the programme further. Here’s what she has to say about the programme.

“I genuinely enjoy working with all of our clients but the crafters of the #CREATEKilkenny programme will always hold a special place in my heart. It has been an amazing journey for all of us and I have so enjoyed working with all of the crafters whose skills range from fascinators, jewellery, tee shirt design, quilling, collectible sewing accessories, porcelain, 3D sculptures, ceramics and even a lady stone carver called Aileen Anne Brannigan! Initially we identified that there was a need for workshops and development around the areas of branding, marketing and financial aspects including product pricing, scaling up to wholesale etc. As the programme developed I discovered that there was also a requirement for a social media workshop to help the #CREATEKilkenny group make the most of their sales skills. Kilkenny Enterprise Board helped us to implement this bolt on by funding it for the team.

Out of the 22 crafters, 11 have been produced to Showcase Ireland 2013 standard, 3 have been selected to appear in the Kilkenny Design Centre, 1 has been taken on by an agent and all of the others have shifted their businesses up several gears. I also felt, as the product standard was so high that there was a real opportunity here to develop an online #CREATEKilkenny shop. A further development has been yet more support from Kilkenny Enterprise Board in helping the group with a pop up Christmas shop which launches on the 1st of December at The Parade, Kilkenny City. The shop will be open for 14 days over December on each Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the week. You can view their work on Facebook under the page CREATEKilkenny and catch them on Twitter under the #CREATEKilkenny hash tag”. #CREATEKilkenny is also now a registered business name with its own logo.

If you are a crafter based in Kilkenny and would like to get onto next years #CREATEKilkenny, contact Ailish at ailish@kceb.ie.