The North American Celtic Trade Association

The North American Celtic Trade Association (NACTA) is the trade association for the Celtic market in North America. Its membership represents retailers, vendors, manufacturers, distributors and others involved in this niche market. Retailer Membership is open to storefront retailers who sell predominantly Celtic products, while Vendor Membership is open to non-retailing entities interested in doing business in the Celtic market in North America. NACTA’s mission is to facilitate communication among businesses involved in the Celtic market in the USA and Canada and to develop and implement programs of value to its members. Fran Siefert is the organization’s President.

What is your own heritage/ethnicity?
I am American born to 2nd generation Irish American parents.  My great-grandparents hail from Counties Tyrone and Galway.

What attracted you to Celtic culture?
I was raised with full knowledge of my Irish roots and I was always attracted to Ireland’s rich history and culture.  My mother studied Irish language and dance at a late age, and she involved me in those studies.  She and my father raised their seven children with a pride for our Irish heritage.

How, when and why did you get involved with NACTA?
I became involved in running our shop, Ballyhugh Irish Imports, with my mother in 1983.  She had been a member of NACTA since its inception and so was well known to the association.  I was asked to run for election to the Board of Directors in 2000 by the President. Having served as a director for a few years, the position of Treasurer became vacant and because of my background in banking and my degree in economics, I was appointed to the position.  Following that, I was elected President and am now serving my final term in that position.  By the time my term expires, I will have been involved with NACTA for 13 years.

What are the challenges of your current role there?
The association has grown dramatically in the last decade.  The challenge now, as always, is to ensure that we remain effective and beneficial to our members and continue to provide them with assistance and resources to grow their businesses.

What are the rewards?
The rewards are varied and valuable.  To be at the helm of an association that is so necessary and appreciated is an honor and a privilege.  Our membership comprises talented and interesting business people who understand the importance of engaging completely in the market that supports them and their customers.  This engagement makes for an energetic and dynamic network that appreciates and supports the association and its endeavors.    As President I have made lifelong friends and built business relationships at both sides of the Atlantic.  I have been mentored by industry leaders at the top echelons of our market and been privileged to meet many influential politicians and celebrities.

What is the organization’s core mandate?
The mission of the North American Celtic Trade Association is to facilitate communication among businesses involved in Celtic retailing in the USA and Canada and to develop and implement programs of value to its members.

How does it implement that mandate?
NACTA primarily works as a conduit to build business between the two main sections of our membership – retailers and suppliers/manufacturers.  Critical to this endeavor is communication and networking.  At each trade show, we create opportunities to bring everyone together in a variety of ways – social occasions and business workshops and meetings.  In particular, our Celtic Marketplace Trade Show, which takes place in Illinois each September, provides a unique and energetic forum that goes way beyond simply a buying/selling opportunity.  The environment is an energetic blend of business and friendship with particular focus on networking, education and business growth. In addition to the face-to-face opportunities, we are constantly developing programs and initiatives of real value to our members.  The key to their effectiveness is that they are for the most part conceived and driven by the members themselves.

How else are you involved with the Celtic community?
My business has supported local Irish dance schools, local community events focused on Celtic/Irish heritage, and provide products that draw upon Celtic history.

What’s next on your Celtic agenda?
When my term as President of NACTA ends, I intend to focus on our Canadian neighbors and help the trade association grow the membership in Canada.