Klara Heron, editor of Irish Country Magazine, has announced Guaranteed Irish and the Design & Crafts Council Ireland as two new sponsors for the fifth annual Irish Made Awards.

Fifth annual Irish Made Awards has two fitting new sponsors

Irish Country Magazine has announced the launch of the fifth annual Irish Made Awards with two fitting new sponsors for 2021 – Guaranteed Irish and the Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI).

As Irish producers look for new ways to shine a light on their business amidst the challenges of the pandemic, the Irish Made Awards offer a boost to businesses in the form of expert advice and mentorship from sponsors the DCCI and Guaranteed Irish, together with an advertising package from Irish Country Magazine.

The Irish Made Awards seek to recognise businesses that stand out in terms of their vision, craftsmanship, and determination to produce incredible products here on Irish soil. Not only do these Irish businesses and brands support local employment, they are the ambassadors for Irish design and production that inspire others to follow their lead and develop their ideas and art here in Ireland.

Mayo-based Foxford Woollen Mills was an Irish Made Award winner last year.

Commenting on the launch of this year's Irish Made Awards, Klara Heron, editor of Irish Country Magazine, said: “The last 12 months have seen many businesses pushed to their limits as they try to weather the pandemic storm, keep afloat and retain staff. We have all had to work harder than ever, but for many brands it has also provided an opportunity to refocus on what our customers value most.

“For us at Irish Country Magazine, it is our celebration of all things Irish in every issue of our glossy magazine. In fact, it is this love of sharing Irish made products that brought about the creation of the Irish Made Awards. Growing bigger every year, last year the Irish Made Awards had over 350 entrants across 10 categories and a final tally of 54,000 online votes.”

Brian McGee, market development director at Design & Crafts Council Ireland and co-sponsor of the Irish Made Awards 2021, added: “As a long-time sponsor of the Irish Made Awards, Design & Crafts Council Ireland is once again encouraging all makers to enter. The competition is tough, but so many exceptional designer-makers have come through each year to win a prize.

“During the pandemic, the Irish consumer has shown amazing support for all things ‘made local’, and so many of our talented makers have used this time wisely, researching and developing new products and enhancing their websites.

“So we are extremely excited to see the new and creative ideas emerging from such a tough year. Taking part in the awards provides publicity and recognition for the great work done by makers in villages and towns all over Ireland.”

Unique opportunity

Guaranteed Irish is the co-sponsor of the Irish Made Awards 2021, and CEO Bríd O'Connell commented: “This year presents us with a unique opportunity to reinforce the behavioural changes of Irish consumers, who are now consciously buying Irish goods to support local as a result of the pandemic and now Brexit.

“Never before has the importance and indeed the economic value of buying Irish been so prevalent. The shift of consumer attitudes and behaviours towards buying Irish has become a lifestyle choice, just like our focus on sustainability. The pandemic has forced us to see the difference that buying Irish can make to a person's livelihood first-hand.

“Guaranteed Irish is calling on all Irish retailers to stock at least one Irish producer from craft and textiles to lifestyle and beauty. We all want to support local, but we also need to support Irish, there is a difference. By being mindful of this, we are keeping the money in the local economy while championing our local producers.”

The overall winner of the Irish Made Awards 2021 will receive an incredible prize worth €16,000 to seriously boost their business. This includes an advertising package with Irish Country Magazine, participation in the DCCI Design Ireland Programme and e-Commerce Bootcamp, plus a one-year membership from Guaranteed Irish with one-to-one mentoring. Category winners and runners-up will be featured in a special Irish Made Awards issue of Irish Country Magazine in October.

Judges handpick the category finalists, with winners decided by combining the public vote and judges’ vote. The Irish Made Awards 2021 judges are: Klara Heron, editor, Irish Country Magazine; Brian McGee, market development director at the Design & Crafts Council Ireland; Bríd O'Connell, CEO, Guaranteed Irish; Eddie Shanahan, branding and retail consultant; Russell James Alford and Patrick Hanlon, GastroGays.com; Ruth O'Connor, fashion editor; Sonia Deasy, founder of Pestle & Mortar; Anna Daly, TV presenter and founder of Little Bliss; Chupi, jewellery designer; and Róisín Healy, deputy editor, Irish Country Magazine.

There are 10 Irish Made Award categories: fashion, accessories, jewellery, textiles, beauty, home, gift, furniture, food, drink.

The Irish Made Awards are open to all Irish businesses, big and small, that manufacture their product in Ireland. See https://irishcountrymagazine.ie/awards for more information.