Jewelry might be the most popular item in the Celtic marketplace. Silversmith Una O’Boyle of Belfast-based Banshee Silver tells us more about herself and the shiny side of business.
What are your own roots?
“Rugadh agus togadh mé in mBéalfeirste!” I was born and bred in Belfast. My father was an O Boyle from Donegal and my mother a Haughey from Magherafelt but they both settled in Belfast. I grew up in the heart of west Belfast during the 1970s and 80s when things were a lot less optimistic than now. However with growing peace and much happier times it’s a wonderful city where I live with my husband Paddy and nine year old son Seamus.
What is the company’s history and mandate?
I have been in business for over 20 years and Banshee Silver has evolved from this in the last few years. With growing optimism in our city and with the birth of my son, I decided to go back to College and study silversmithing. I experienced an overwhelming burst of creativity and ideas which have manifested themselves in my own particular take on jewellery design. This has been inspired by my love of Celtic mythology, our unique Irish landscape and history and as a result every one of my designs has a story to tell.
What are your core products?
I supply a range of contemporary Sterling Silver Irish jewelery; pendants, earrings, rings and bracelets. I design every piece of jewelery myself after immersing myself in a subject…for example Ancient Irish legends or after visiting the megalithic sites of Ireland. Every piece of jewellery has its own story and it all comes boxed and with a story card. I can also design for clients if they have an idea or story themselves.
How do you differ from the competition?
I think it’s apparent that my designs are heartfelt. “Deanta le croí agus anam!” Made with heart and soul! People can also relate easily to them
How and why did you get involved with NACTA and this particular trade show?
I learned about NACTA and this show from NACTA itself and fellow exhibitors at a show I took part in earlier in the year in New Jersey. I believe this show targets my customers who are looking for something new in the Celtic marketplace
What are your thoughts on the current state of the Celtic marketplace?
It’s hard for me to say as I’m a relative newcomer to it, but I think the recession has taken its toll on many markets but I think we have turned a corner. I think there’s always a market for good quality and new ideas and just as my work is becoming very popular in Ireland I sense that the discerning American market will be similar – at least I hope so!
What can be done to overcome the current challenges in that marketplace?
Again I’m a relative newcomer but from talking to other exhibitors I think it’s time to get some new energy into the Celtic Marketplace. I think people are getting a bit tired and jaded of the “same old same old” Celtic look. Ireland itself has moved on a lot since I was a kid. I think the Celtic Marketplace can reflect this in newer, bolder, contemporary designs. I think this also galvanizes an interest among the younger generation too. They are the future. While my own designs are very much inspired by Celtic Ireland they reflect a more contemporary look.
What are your future plans for the business?
I’ve already started upping my skills in jewelery design. I’m designing in a more 3d way…almost like a sculptor. I am absolutely loving it and can’t wait to get back to the bench on my return to Ireland after the show. I plan to keep exhibiting in the US and also Showcase Ireland in Dublin and expand my business. I’m hoping to launch a new exclusive range in January at the Showcase. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to Ireland I hope to be back to the US in 2015!