WHEN one door closes, another door opens. And it was with this positive mindset that Anna Troy and her business partner, Katie Sloane, opened a creative collective called Wildflower Creative when the Halflight Gallery closed in Youghal, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We were part of a previous collective, The Halflight Gallery in Youghal, and Anna and I were only there six weeks before Covid-19 happened when the shop had to close on March 24,” says Katie, who lives in Inch.
The entrepreneurial girls, with a common interest and a common passion, seeing value looking beyond price and service, seeking to create an immersive shopping trip, made a pact together to continue their passion for all things vintage.
“Anna and I and many other like-minded creative people have a combined passion for buying second-hand and we have enthusiasm for helping the environment into the bargain,” says Katie.
“We decided to come together to create upcycled items and repurposed vintage jewellery.”
The pandemic brought an atmosphere of uncertainty during anxious times.
“People who had been involved in the gallery and exhibiting there went their individual ways and the stock was cleared out from the Halflight Gallery.
“Lockdown gave me the opportunity to try new things,” says Katie.
As everyone knows, East Cork is an active hub of creative people.
“Another group of talented artists, crafters and designers took up the mantle to join forces with us,” says Katie.
They are all in it together — they have beautified the store on North Main Street, Youghal, piquing the admiration of locals and visitors alike.
The Wildflower Creative involves 13 artists and craft makers from across Cork and the venture is supported by the Youghal Business Alliance.
Katie and Anna go back a long way.
“Katie played camogie with my daughter,” says Anna, who is a mother of four.
“We discovered we were very like-minded and we got friendly.
“Katie already had Peach Vintage, selling pre-loved and pre-adored clothes items and antiques. Last year I opened a pop-up shop with upcycled and re-cycled goods. The hobby shifted to a business and Katie and I began working together.”
Now, the unique shop promoting sustainability, reducing land-fill, and promoting small local business, is a creative hub in the town of Youghal.
“Wildflower Creative is proving really popular with the local people and visitors coming on summer day trips to Youghal,” says Katie, whose mother worked for an interior designer and who made curtains.
What’s the attraction?
“I think it is the thrill of finding something unique that nobody else has!” says Katie.
Hand-made and handed down arts and crafts seem to mean more to people in this day and age?
“Definitely,” says Katie.
“People are much more aware now about the way that they shop for goods and they are aware about the environment.”
And the creative crafters and artists, being in it together, bring a combined meaning to their own special artefacts.
“The whole concept of the shop is a ‘collective’,” explains Anna.
“It is a space where everyone works together sharing the expenses and the profits, as well as the experience.
“In this sense it enables a large number of people to attain the individual reach of at least part-owning their own outlet and having an input into the retail management of one’s produce,” says Anna.
Everyone involved double-jobs.
“The collective members staff the shop by fortnightly and weekly rotation.”
The crafty collective thought outside the box.
“The shop operates a ‘swap shop’ service too,” says Katie. “The public can exchange up to six items for similar clothing also brought into the shop.”
Several of the exhibitors demonstrate how they make their wares.
“Some of the artists/crafters run workshops at various times.”
Front-of-house is very pretty. Back-of-house is intriguing, a treasure trove of delights eagerly waiting to be discovered.
The Revolving Wardrobe Vintage houses the most colourful, original collection of clothing. Former famous native Sir Walter Raleigh would be impressed!
“The items are unique, handpicked, and they date from the glam rock era of the 1970s and ’80s,” explains Anna.
“They are mostly Italian fashion vintage for ladies. The teenagers are very keen on them! We hope to extend the collection to interest male customers.”
The clothes are in good nick.
“Some of the clothing is new,” say Anna.
“But mostly it is ‘sustainability focused’, the criteria being that the items are at least 20 years old.”
Katie and Anna are old hands at keeping things going and promoting creative talented local people.
“Katie and I weren’t keen to pack in the business,” says Anna.
“We decided to get a new collective going and here we are!”
Painter Eileen McGoldrick’s work is created using a variety of media, working mainly in oil paint but also in watercolour, acrylic, pastels, photography and mixed media.
“Anna and Katie are such creative people,” says Eileen, from Northern Ireland, who has more than her fair share of creativity, and who spent a long time working in Oxford.
“The collaboration works well for everyone. It’s good for us and it’s good for the town and for the community. The variety in the shop is amazing and it is unusual.”
Virginie Laveau is from Limoges in France, living in Ireland for over 20 years. Her pretty hand-painted ceramic ear-rings are a work of art.
“I am self-taught,” says Virginie, who came to live in Connemara 20 years ago knowing nobody.
“I learned my craft from my own kitchen at home in Cork. I began selling locally and to tourists.”
What prompted her to tap into her crafty side?
“I lost my job in Apple working in IT six years ago and I went to India to try and produce my collection. I had to make it work,” says Virginie.
“I was conscious opening a business of my own could be a battle. This job with the collective is ideal.”
While the ladies at Wildflower Collective are a most talented bunch who support and promote each other; the men involved add their own stamp to the unique outlet.
“I was always passionate about music and industrial art,” says Bruno Lamotte.
“I always wanted to create bespoke furniture.”
Bruno creates personalised gifts and challenges himself to create.
His fellow trader, Bobby Klang, is an artist/ musician primarily focusing on dreamlike and lower light imagery.
Where does Bruno get his inspiration?
“I find my inspiration travelling around to car boot sales and second-hand shops.”
Highly innovative, he re-purposes furniture with vinyl discs.
“Capped at 12 ranges here there are paint artists, jewellery makers, felters and candle and balm makers as well as those that defy a ready- made label,” says Katie.
Wildflower Creative is a place for browsers, bargain hunters and individual tastes. The eclectic collection of scarves, clothes items, handbags, abstract artworks, as well as scenes of Youghal and East Cork are among the animal portraits, vintage postcards, knitted toys and stationary make for a unique shopping experience.
“People seem to like it,” says Katie.
“Businesses in Youghal have welcomed us to the street and the support from local Youghal businesses is much appreciated.”
Youghal business people, supporting each other, are delighted that they are all in it together.
The Wildflower Creative is located at 72 Main Street Youghal.