Artwood

A Leitrim-based couple have transformed the universal desire to catch the sun into a winning artistic endeavor. The people behind Artwood also know that if there’s anything more delightful than a rainbow of colour dancing across your kitchen floor, it’s one that comes wrapped in native Irish wood.

Emily Sachs Eldridge and Giolla Liddy launched Artwood in 2014 and their beautiful crescent-shaped sun catchers are now sold in over 70 outlets across Ireland. They also do a very healthy online trade and have cracked the arts and crafts market in the US, Canada and Australia.

artwood

The beauty of their hand-crafted product is that the native wood they use is found practically on their doorstep.

“At the moment we have a supply of beech and beautiful oak because a neighbour just 200 meters down the road was cutting down trees. The oak is really special. Its beautiful,” explained Emily. They also source a lot of the native wood from local sawmills and from people who know them and know what they need. Beech, Ash, Elm, Yew and Oak are used in the hand-crafted gifts which can be personalized, with names, dates, quotes or even a favourite poem engraved on the Suncatcher. 

Giolla is a carpenter who dreamed up the idea when Emily decided she wanted a nice crystal to catch the rays in her own kitchen.

Each piece is hand-crafted in their workshop next to their home under the Sliabh an Iarainn mountain in Co. Leitrim.

Initially the couple started selling at Christmas markets but after getting in touch with the Leitrim Local Enterprise Office they were put on a fast tack to Showcase, the annual shopwindow for high quality arts and crafts. Soon they were being sought after by high end gift stores at home and abroad.

“The  Local Enterprise  Office was hugely helpful from the very beginning”, said Emily who explained that “If we hadn’t got to Showcase we would have had to go travelling around the country introducing ourselves to all the different shops but they all come to you at Showcase and you can display your product”.

 “It would have taken us years to get to the stage we are at now, with that help,” she stressed. “I also got a chance to meet up with other exhibitors and picked up a lot of useful advice there”.

Artwood also received funding towards employment costs, machinery costs and a TOV (Trading Online Voucher) which has helped build  a commercial website, from Leitrim LEO.  The website has borne fruit and Artwood estimates that 30pc of its sales are now online.

The Enterprise office also organized mentoring for the company “which helped us design a business plan and to focus on where we wanted the business to go,” said Emily.

 “I’d advise anyone thinking about setting up in the county to approach the LEO first as they encourage so many small businesses,” said Emily. “They have so much to offer, apart from financial help. They organize courses and mentoring and given that there are so many aspects to a business, accounting and marketing as well as actually making the product, it is really useful to have all that support”.

 

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