Talented Westmeath leather designer scoops prestigious new award

A talented Westmeath leather designer was announced as overall winner of the inaugural Local Enterprise Showcase Awards at the R.D.S. in Dublin this week. The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) initiative is aimed at supporting the Irish Craft and Design sector.

Brendan McEvoy from Mullingar was presented with his award by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms. Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D.. The awards highlight excellence and innovation amongst the talented LEO supported craft makers and designers taking part in Showcase, Ireland’s International Creative Expo.

Local Enterprise Showcase Winner

Brendan and his Polish-born wife, Kasia, started the Irish luxury tech bag and accessory company, My Name is Ted, two years ago. The business started when Brendan worked on upgrading an old leather bag made by his late grandfather, Ted Carbery, in 1962.

“My grandfather was a saddler but had a stroke at the age of 42 and lost the use of his right hand. He had 11 children to feed so he was determined to get back into the leather business and he learned to make leather bags using his left hand and his mouth. What I have done is used my grandfather’s work and creations as a basis for my range of functional and adaptable range of luxury business and lifestyle crossover bags. They feature powerbanks to charge devices, and can be changed from briefcases to backpacks.” Brendan launched his full accessory range, all made from full grain Italian leather, at the Local Enterprise Showcase.

Highly commended awards were also presented by Minister Mitchell O’ Connor to Pieces of Great, supported by Local Enterprise Office Tipperary and Ale Walsh Designs, supported by Local Enterprise Office Fingal.

Speaking after the event Minister Mitchell O’Connor, said: “I have been impressed by the wealth of talent amongst the 110 emerging craft and design companies being supported by the Local Enterprise Offices at Showcase. Clearly the future is bright for Ireland’s craft and design sector. Our design and craft sector is contributing to jobs, exports, and tourism and Showcase plays a crucial role in helping put Irish companies on the international design map.”

The Minister added: “It is vital that these emerging businesses are nurtured. The LEOs are a huge support for start-ups and small businesses in this blossoming sector. The Local Enterprise Showcase is a wonderful platform, and a great opportunity for craft makers to meet buyers from all over the world. I am delighted that these awards have been initiated to recognise the incredible talent shown from these companies.”

The winners of the Local Enterprise Showcase Awards are:

Overall Winner: Brendan and Kaisa McEvoy from My Name is Ted in Mullingar, County Westmeath, supported by LEO Westmeath

Highly Commended: Paul and Edel Grace, from Pieces of Great in Kilcommon, Co. Tipperary supported by LEO Tipperary

Highly Commended: Ale Walsh from Ale Walsh in Portmarnock, County Dublin, supported by LEO Fingal

Showcase is organised by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, and promoted internationally by Enterprise Ireland. Continuing until Wednesday, January 25th, it is an important international sales platform for 450 Irish designers, manufacturers, and craftspeople, attracting more than 5,000 buyers from all over the world.

A record 110 designers and craftmakers are exhibiting at “Local Enterprise Showcase” which replaces the Enterprise Zone as the destination during Showcase for LEO-supported companies. They represent a range of creative sectors including ceramics, knitwear, jewellery, skincare and giftware.

The first prize is a week’s product display in the Kilkenny Shop on Nassau Street, Dublin and gives the winner an opportunity to pitch their product to Kilkenny Shop buyers.

Also in attendance was Kieran Comerford on behalf of the LEOs; Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland; Stephen Hughes of Enterprise Ireland, and Anna Marie Delaney, Chair of the Local Government Economic, Enterprise and Tourism Committee.

The four-member judging panel for the Local Enterprise Showcase Awards were: Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise, LEO Kilkenny (Chair); Laura Pasquetti, Gift and Homeware Buyer with the Kilkenny Group, Niamh O' Rourke, Independent Stylist and Creative Consultant and Mary Blanchfield, Head of Operations with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland.

Kieran Comerford of the Local Enterprise Offices said that many of the design and craft companies in the Local Enterprise Showcase area were first-time exhibitors and new start-ups. He said: “The Local Enterprise Showcase is the new destination for buyers to discover emerging design and craft talent at Showcase 2017. More than half of the LEO-supported craft and design companies are making their Showcase debut, meeting international buyers for the first time. Over the next four days, these companies will secure substantial international orders that will help them grow their export markets and in turn their job creation prospects.”

Mr Comerford stressed that support for the design and craft companies extends way beyond Showcase. “This is part of year-round supports and mentoring offered from all Local Enterprise Offices nationwide, including financial, business advice clinics and training programmes.”

The Local Enterprise Showcase is located along the Balcony Area of the RDS Main Hall at Showcase, which is open to trade buyers until Wednesday, January 25th 2017.

Further information is available through www.showcaseireland.com and www.localenterprise.ie.