handbag, messenger bag, birthday treat

Happy 1st Birthday, Sallyann’s Handmade Bags!

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handbag, messenger bag, birthday treat
Birthday Cake for the bags

Happy Birthday to me…

Happy Birthday to me…

Happy Birthday, Sallyann’s Handmade Bags…

Happy Birthday to me!

handbag, messenger bag, birthday treat
Birthday Cake!

It has been a busy start to September for the bags and I.  One whole year officially in business.  Wow.  And so much has happened. For a start, I’m still going.  My range of bags has developed, and the fabrics I use have changed and increased.  Using coated cottons and linens as well as oilcloths has lead to a broadening of my range of fabrics, whilst still ensuring that the bags all remain practical, useful and showerproof.  After the Summer we have had here in the West of Ireland, showerproof is a necessity.  And always lined with recycled jeans. the purses made with the zips from the jeans have grown in popularity.

Purses, handmade, handbags, oilcoth purse, upcycled jeans
Lots of purses

I’ve had huge support from fellow craftspeople I have met along the way, which has been the most unexpected bonus of starting up my own business.  I had been concerned it would be a bit lonely, sewing away in my house in the boonies, just turning up to the odd market.  But I didn’t factor in how friendly and helpful my fellow crafters and stallholders would be.  I’ve made great friends, and have had more laughter at work in the last year than I reckon I had in the previous 10 years.  The development of Chapel Lane Market in Ennis by Clare Nihill of Crafty Nugz and Cllr Mary Howard of Clare County Council has been a turning point for my business. I like to think I was a certain push factor for Clare in the development of the market – in the run up to last Christmas we spent many cold Saturdays in a gazebo on Cruises Street in Limerick, hopping from foot to foot to keep warm, with Clare muttering “There has to be a warmer place to have a stall”. And so she and Mary worked tirelessly to start Chapel Lane Market, which has just celebrated its first 6 months in business.  I’ve been at almost every market, and the atmosphere and range of handcrafted goodies on display each week just gets better and better.  Stallholders work tirelessly to develop their range of products and the quality is very high high.  Each and everything on sale is made within a 30 mile radius of Ennis.  So many times you visit a craft fair, and instead of hand made products you see cheap imported stuff which is not in the least handcrafted.  There is none of that at Chapel Lane, which is why I think the discerning shoppers of Ennis and County Clare have taken it to their hearts quite so willingly – they can see it is a genuine craft market.

There are fantastic plans afoot in Chapel Lane Market for Hallowe’en and Christmas – watch this space and the market’s Facebook page for more details!

The chance to trade at Shannon Airport has been a huge boost to my business, and to my personal confidence in my products.  Selling Sallyann Bags alongside such established bag brands as Orla Kiely, Fiorucci, Guess and Lisa Ryder was a big test for me, and I think I can safely say I passed that test! Taking this big leap of faith was GlenAran Irish Market, who supported myself, Crafty Nugz, Orinoco Creative Glass and LuciLu Jewellery over the Summer at their airport shops.  It was a huge opportunity, and one that has had a significant impact on my business.  One of the benefits of being in Shannon Airport was getting to meet so many people from so many different countries.  I met people from Germany, France, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Spain and the US.  One lady I met, Ina Steiner, happened to be a journalist and editor of an online magazine called ecommercebytes.com, and she subsequently wrote up her conversation with me for her website.  Take a look at the article here.  Now that was serendipity!

There have been some fantastic shops who have supported me through my first year too.  Terry and Lisa of Cottage Garden Centre Gift Shop at the Hand near Miltown Malbay were the first ones who encouraged me to be brave and make some bags for them to sell in their fabulous gift shop. Kilbaha Gallery & Crafts, on the Loop Head Peninsula and run by the phenomenally enthusiastic Liz and Ailish, have tirelessly supported and promoted my bags at their gallery on the Wild Atlantic Way.  The Limerick Craft Hub has been a fantastic base for my bags in Limerick – so much so that I have decided to stop having a stall in Cruises Street in Limerick, because the Limerick Craft Hub are able to sell them six days a week, and I could only do a Saturday every two weeks at the market!

Now I’ve entered my second year of business, I’m looking forward to expanding steadily into a few more shops, and keeping my regular slot at Chapel Lane Market in Ennis.  There are new designs to work on, new fabrics to explore, and always new customers to meet and talk to. How exciting is that?

handbag, messenger bag, birthday treat, Fely Bag, Cross body bag, cat fabric, showerproof,
Cat & Mouse Fely Bag

Finally, I wanted to show you the bag I made for the person who had the winning bid in my auction of a cat & mouse bag in aid of An Cat Dubh Cat Sanctuary. Susi had asked for a Fely bag, my slightly larger handbag which is a cross body design. The fabric worked brilliantly for it, with the cheeky cat print really standing out. And the good news is that Sasha, the little kitten for whom I was trying to raise money, is beginning to put on weight and her health is improving. All in all you helped raise €100 for An Cat Dubh, so thank you for your support.

handbag, messenger bag, birthday treat, Fely Bag, Cross body bag, cat fabric, showerproof,
Cat & Mouse Fely Bag

So here’s to a busy second year of business! Thank you to all my customers for their encouragement and custom, and I hope to see many of you over the coming months. And please keep sending in the pictures of your bags on their travels – recent bags have been spotted in Lisbon, Tenerife, Seville, New York City and Las Vegas.

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