The Irish Fairy Door Company
There’s a wee bit of magic on hand at this year’s NACTA trade show in Lombard, Illinois this week. Niamh Sherwin Barry of the Irish Fairy Door Company gives us the details.
Tell us about the company.
We are an Irish company employing 15 people, based in Dublin, Ireland.
What is the company’s history and mandate?
We have been just over 1 year in existence. Our journey has been like a whirlwind.. It all started at the beginning of last June 2013… Myself and my childhood friend Aoife Lawler were chatting in her kitchen about a fairy door we had both seen 2 years previously in upstate NY. We were both very taken by the magic that the little piece of wood had brought to our children and were discussing how we were creating the magic along the way. The fairy door we had bought was a tiny little piece of wood shaped like a door, with a handle but with absolutely no magic behind it. We had used our own imaginations to enhance our own children’s experience and were discussing how we really thought we could come together and make this into something bigger. We were getting very excited about what we could do and what we could create. Gavin, Aoife’s husband (and also a childhood friend of mine) was listening to us and with him having a small web design, joined in on the conversation. All of a sudden, we were designing a website and packaging. We knew, instantly, that we were onto something! In comes my husband, Oisin. Oisin worked in Financial Services and quickly put his expertise to good use when it came to costings etc. We spent the next few weeks finding someone to make the doors for us and sourcing suppliers for the packaging etc. We had it all organised! We were sitting around their kitchen table so excited, until we realised that we didn’t have a spare tenner between us! Between the four of us, we simply didn’t have any money to get it started. Myself and Oisin had been hit extremely hard by the recession with Aoife and Gavin also feeling the strain and were barely making ends meet themselves. We didn’t know where to turn. In comes, my Mam and Dad! My Mam and Dad wouldn’t have lots of spare cash, but my Mam had given up smoking 10 years previously and had saved all the money she would have spent on cigarettes in a jar. It amounted to €8,500. Without hesitation, she gave it to us. She knew we were onto something special. What happened next still has our head spinning! We spent the entire summer preparing and getting our website and product right. We launched our website and Facebook page on the same day, August 28th 2014. Anyone can make a fairy door, but we wanted the magic to be there from the very start. What has surprised us most and continues to surprise us is that the whole family have taken to our concept. We knew the children would get it straight away and their imagination would ignite.. It was the adults who surprised us most. It genuinely is a little bit of Christmas all year round.
What are your core products?
Our core product is our wooden fairy door and all the magic we have created behind it! We also have lots of accessories to accompany your fairy door. Vinyl decals, welcome mats and fairy clothes and washing lines to name a few.
How do you differ from the competition?
We offer magic. Plain and simple. The little door is literally just the beginning. The most common feedback we get are people thanking us. People actually thanking us for buying our product. The reason for that is because of the magic and imagination our concept brings. Life is hard an awful lot of the time and having something that ignites the imagination like our little winged friends do is quite unique nowadays. The most surprising thing is that its not just the children who are getting completely involved, it is the entire family. Facebook is our main marketing tool and has been by far the best way to get out message out there. Everytime we do a more magical update on our page the response is amazing. And its not children who follow our page its their Mammy and Daddies! To explain a litte bit more how the magic starts..the child needs to choose a door, decide where to put it, chose a name for your fairy and register it on our website. We will then send back a Lease Agreement with all the rules that fairies and families have to live by in order to live together! You then leave your Lease Agreement, signed by all of the family out beside your fairy door. Then most importantly leave the little bottle with the key inside beside the door also. In the morning, if the key is gone you will know that your fairy has moved in and taken the key. They will also have signed the Lease Agreement too!
How and why did you get involved with NACTA and this particular trade show?
We heard about NACTA and this trade show through Enterprise Ireland in New York.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the Celtic marketplace?
Having sent many fairy doors over to the Unites States and other various countries around the world we have been very heartened by the interest people have had in our products with many remarking on the genuine ‘Irishness’ of them. As we are only just over 1 year in business we are very new to this market and look forward to being able to give a more comprehensive answer to this question but for now we will let you know after this weekend!!
What are your future plans for the business?
World fairy domination!! To have fairies living with human families all over the world! We have an Irish distributor since February 2014 and have recently secured one in the UK too. This will help us massively with brand awareness and getting our magic to lots more people. We are already wholesaling our products to 5 shops in the USA and are hoping with the exposure at this trade fair that that number will increase considerably!