Showcase Ireland, Ireland’s Creative Expo, will pivot to a new innovative Virtual Showroom format from January 25 to 29, in response to the limitations imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The project is organised by Showcase Ireland Crafts and Design Fair CLG, a subsidiary of Design and Crafts Ireland. It is supported by DCCI, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices, including Local Enterprise Office Mayo.
Showcase is one of the industry’s largest international trade fairs where designers and craft makers provide a choice of contemporary and heritage collections, offering innovation, quality, sustainability and a distinctive point of difference to retail buyers from across the globe.
One local company that is hoping to make a big impression on retail buyers later this month is Hawthorn Handmade Skincare based in Partry, Claremorris. Hawthorn Handmade Skincare, founded by Elaine Kennedy, produces a range of handmade skincare products using 100 per cent natural ingredients and was set up in 2018.
Elaine Moyles, acting head of enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Mayo, which supports Showcase every year, said: "Pivoting to virtual showrooms in virtual marketplaces has become an essential part of doing business in the last year, especially for small businesses who would have relied heavily on large-scale trade and consumer events for sales.
"Thanks to this year’s Virtual Showrooms at Showcase, Local Enterprise Office clients can launch new collections and arrange meetings with buyers from around the globe, direct from their studio or workshop.
"We will continue to work closely with local companies, like Hawthorn Handmade Skincare, to help them make the most from virtual marketplace opportunities throughout 2021."
Chair of Showcase Ireland, Eddie Shanahan, said: "Ireland boasts a wealth of talent and creativity and while the pandemic prevents the physical event from taking place, we are delighted to continue to provide a platform for Ireland’s creators and makers to showcase their products to Irish and international buyers.
"Though this year’s event will look different, we are confident that we will demonstrate the vitality of the Irish craft and design sector to both new and returning buyers.
"We will also relaunch our Showcase website as a Source Guide, with over 200 designers and makers offering B to B facilities, for Irish and international buyers."
Showcase Ireland 2021 Virtual Showrooms will be delivered on a robust and secure platform that will facilitate person-to-person virtual meetings by appointment. It will allow international and Irish buyers to explore the creativity and craftsmanship of the exhibitors, like they would at the RDS each year. The platform will feature exhibitors’ and buyers’ profiles, website links, product imagery and video links that will be accessible to participants at the event.
Exhibitors have been fully equipped via a specially developed Masterclass in Virtual Trading, including how to set up a visually appealing online showroom, managing a virtual meeting, storytelling and how to trade effectively in a virtual setting.
Rosemary Steen, Chief Executive of Design and Crafts Council Ireland, said: “The Showcase Virtual Showrooms will be invaluable in helping to maintain key relationships between Showcase, key buyers around the world and producers in Ireland. While the Digital space will never replace the value of a physical sales meeting, we believe that more and more exporting will be transacted online in the future. I want to thank Eddie Shanahan as chair of Showcase Design & Crafts Fair CLG, together with his board colleagues, for their hard work and guidance in delivering this exciting new event for the design and craft sector. I would also like to thank Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices for their continued strong commitment to Showcase and our industry overall.”
“Showcase was founded by Design and Crafts Council Ireland 45 years ago and 2021 will be the first year that our clients will not be able to meet their trade buyers face to face. During 2020 we have been placing huge emphasis on developing the digital capabilities of our client companies and we are hopeful that Showcase 2021 will keep sales moving until the pandemic recedes, protecting jobs and livelihoods,” she added.
In a further development to support Irish enterprises, the Showcase Ireland website will be updated as a Source Guide for buyers and will offer a B to B facility for B to B enabled Showcase clients. The Digital Catalogue for the Showcase Virtual Showrooms is available to view at https://www.showcaseireland.com/news/showcase-virtual-showrooms-digital-catalogue/