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29/09/2021

For the love of the craft: Geraldine Gray looks back on her career in Leitrim Design House

For the love of the craft: Geraldine Gray looks back on her career in Leitrim Design House

Geraldine Gray has retired from Leitrim Design House Picture: Gerry Faughnan

Geraldine Gray retired as a manager of the Leitrim Design House earlier this Summer after over 15 years at the helm.


The Leitrim Design House located in The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon is a treasure trove of unique craft from all over Ireland.
It is a destination shop that brings customers from around the region in search of a “special gift” or piece of art work while also surprising visitors to the town with exquisite pieces that can be found nowhere else.
But away from the shop part, Leitrim Design House has been moulding Leitrim artists and crafters into entrepreneurs and business people and this is where Geraldine Gray has been instrumental.


Geraldine has helped develop programmes, workshops, events and business plans which have turned people's dreams and hobbies into thriving businesses.
The Design House not only provides a window to sell local products, but also offers a mentoring programme and a community for the makers.
Geraldine told the paper that while Covid has been “more than challenging” for Leitrim Design House and their contributors, the biggest challenge for the-not -for-profit organisation was the recession.
She said from 2008-2010 sales “dropped completely” and there was no appetite among consumers for unique pieces, “spending became considerate” and they had to work hard with contributors to lower profit margins.
She said during that time they moved away from large one off art pieces and focused on smaller prints which worked and helped to keep them surviving.


Geraldine says the high points in her career were the success of the programmes, collections and events she organised as they allowed her to see “the positive impact it had on people’s lives, the difference they made” - it made all the hard work worth while.
Geraldine has worked closely with many local markers and said creating products is a “lifestyle choice” rather than a economic success train. When asked what do you need to do to get your product on the shelves of Leitrim Design House, Geraldine said “You just need to make a good product!”


Geraldine will miss her role where “no two days were the same” but she said she will continue to support Leitrim makers in all that they do.

BEST WISHES

The Leitrim Design House Team would like to wish Geraldine Gray the very best in her recent retirement as manager of The Leitrim Design House.
During the years 2006 – 2021 Geraldine worked tirelessly to promote Irish design, creating opportunities for Irish based craft makers, artists & designers through a wide variety of projects, exhibitions, conferences and training programmes.
Geraldine’s dedication and passion to support small craft businesses, raise their profile and nurture their development, helped to build what The Leitrim Design House is today. We are indebted to Geraldine; she is greatly missed but we wish her every happiness in her next chapter.
The team would like to thank her sincerely for her wonderful generosity and inspirational leadership over the years.

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