When one door closes, another opens: The Irish Handmade Glass Company.
The sons of Waterford Crystal Master Craftsmen followed in their fathers’ footsteps to create The Irish Handmade Glass Company in 2009, following the closure of world-renowned Waterford Crystal.
Tony Hayes, Richard Rowe, Danny Murphy and Derek Smith started out as their fathers’ apprentices when they were 15-years-old, honing their craft over the years until they became master glassblowers.
Located in the Kite Design Studios in the Viking Triangle in Waterford City, the Irish Handmade Glass Company is run as an open studio where visitors can watch the glass being mouth-blown and hand-cut.
Speaking to Champion Green, Tony said they wanted to set up a company that would produce a different type of crystal; one associated with the past, featuring designs such as the Claddagh and Celtic symbols. Using colour and cuttings inspired by Irish nature, Irish symbols and Irish mythology, they are proud to have created a product that is ‘completely different’ to anything else available.
The company supplies 65 shops around Ireland, with many located in tourist hotspots like Killarney. When COVID-19 hit, their strongest source of businesses became their weakest overnight and, with current travel restrictions, it looks likely that this market won’t return until March 2021. Determined to keep going, they adapted by creating a new collection of products, under the working title ‘An Iasc.’ The new collection is aimed at both domestic and international markets, and has a marine themed pattern and colouration. Each item is decorated with hand cut seaweed and fish, with air bubbles livening the marine theme.
Like a lot of businesses that relied on bricks and mortar trade, they’re now focusing on upgrading their website. The help of an Online Trading Voucher, secured through their Local Enterprise Office in Waterford, will support their ambitious plans for online growth.
Tony says that supporting local has always been important and now, even more so. “We have always believed in the idea that for a product to be Irish, it needs to be not only designed here, but also produced here.”
The company’s locally made products have been one of its biggest selling points and why they believe they get so much backing at home. “Since we reopened after the lockdown we have had a steady flow of customers and without these we simply could not stay open.”
Supporting their local community by donating prizes is one way they regularly give back, as well as sponsorship of key events, like the local fishing club’s annual competition.
You can view the Irish Handmade Glass Company’s newest collection here.