Shopping local is what economy needs

As we continue our weekly series on small businesses in the city and county, MARTINA O’DONOGHUE catches up with the women behind Joyfully - Created In Cork to find out why shopping local is important
Shopping local is what economy needs

Joy Jones Lane

IF tents and tepees conjure up images of a nomadic lifestyle, one could easily read into why Joy Jones Lane now has a business selling such items.

Born near Dunmanway, she attended primary school in Skibbereen and Schull, before moving to north Cork to spend her secondary school years in Dromcollogher. She resided in Cork city for a while too, working in the Ambassador Hotel for three years as a student.

West Cork came calling again though and she has been based in Bantry for the past six years.

“I really did move around a lot,” Joy says.

“This is actually the longest I’ve been in one house now that I’m in Bantry.”

One of the beautiful tepees made by Joyfully -  Created in Cork.
One of the beautiful tepees made by Joyfully -  Created in Cork.

In truth, the formation of Joyfully – Created In Cork was a happy accident following the gift of a tepee she received from her friend Janette McCarthy for her daughter last Christmas

Joy thought it was amazing and soon began to think there could be a demand for such items if they were to pool their talents and work together.

“I have a degree in fine art from the Crawford College of Art and Design and I do lots of textile-based stuff anyway. I love fabrics and sewing but with two smallies, I don’t have much time for sewing now. My sewing machine is looking at me really sadly!” she explains.

“So Janette makes the tepees and I do a lot of the other business stuff; the ordering, the sales and marketing and the customer service, which is a whole job itself. I don’t know how people sew and do the business side as well. It’s very time-consuming!”

Happily, Joy still manages to explore her creative side in the course of her work.

“We work very closely with our customers. If our customers don’t like any of the tepees we have ready to ship, they can tell me what their child likes in terms of shapes or colours and then I go searching for the dream fabric for them and show them a few different templates.

“Our tepees can be fully customised and personalised. My creative side gets great joy out of choosing the fabric and working with the customer,” she says.

Joy is aware that children have different needs so she thinks outside the box when catering for them.

“We do a lot of tepees for children with ASD. Children on the autism spectrum often like dark spaces or they get sensory overload. Our black tepees are generally for kids who have autism or sensory issues. They might also be fussy in the fabrics they like, or even the textures.

“Every tepee that’s customised has a brief and I love meeting that brief. I find it very satisfying,” she says.

One of the beautiful tepees made by Joyfully -  Created in Cork.
One of the beautiful tepees made by Joyfully -  Created in Cork.

The tepees are easily foldable and 4ft X 4ft at the base. When sourcing material, Joy tries to do so locally if possible. “We get most of our fabric from a fabric clearance place in Douglas. We like to support them because they are in Cork as well. And if I’m doing a customised order and the customer doesn’t really like any of those fabrics, we get them from a company called Just Fabrics in England. They’re great because they pledge to be environmentally friendly. They don’t send you any plastic and all their packaging is biodegradable, which is something we strive for within our own company as well.”

One of the tepees made by Joyfully - Created in Cork.
One of the tepees made by Joyfully - Created in Cork.

Since launching last May, the intrepid duo have already added to their tepee collection by creating a range of parent and child matching aprons, inspired by the popularity of matching senior and junior pyjamas at Christmas time. The mini aprons come with an adjustable neck tie, depending on the size of the child, plus a hem that can be let down to instantly gain two inches when the child grows taller.

“It’s been a very natural progression as a business,” says Joy, who is delighted with the opportunity to work from home and be close to her two girls, Callie and Aliza, who naturally serve as the perfect product testers!

It turns out that a global pandemic offered the ideal time to launch the business.

“It made lots of people realise that they could do things from home. And because people were at home more last summer, we got a good starter boost with sales. 

"In September there was a bit of a lull with everyone going back to school. People associated them with the outdoors, so we’re working on photographing them indoors; to show them in playrooms and sitting rooms. I actually live in a mobile home. I have very limited space as we’re hoping to build, but I can fit two tepees in my sitting room!”

Joy has also encountered other women working in the area of craft, who are not adept at social media, so she’s offering to be a platform for their products. Hence, she promotes and sells therapeutic bone cushions for Josephine Ratliff of Ballydehob, after receiving one as a gift when Callie was born.

The tepees can be used indoors or out.
The tepees can be used indoors or out.

“You can use them for feeding or lie on them with the length of your spine. They’re great for relieving pressure points,” explains Joy.

She is also stocking hand-sewn cards by Cork-based Martina Carroll’s Stitch Happy Creations. These are greeting cards with a fabric panel which work as a free-standing card but can also be framed as an affordable piece of art.

Josephine Ratliff Bone Cushions  are also sold  by Joyfully Created in Cork
Josephine Ratliff Bone Cushions  are also sold  by Joyfully Created in Cork

Women helping women is a theme running through Joyfully - Created In Cork, with Noreen Murphy of West Cork Way B&B in Kealkil generously opening her doors to Joy to photograph the tepees in different settings.

Now, after a memorable 12 months – in which Joy also had a small lockdown wedding in March – she is hoping to round off the year seeing Christmas shoppers focus on local spending.

Martina Carroll Art cards are also on sale by Joyfully Created in Cork.
Martina Carroll Art cards are also on sale by Joyfully Created in Cork.

“There’s been a huge surge in people shopping locally and buying local crafts,” she says.

“It’s definitely what our local economy needs. When people buy locally it actually affects everyone in our economy, not just me.”

For more see:

https://www.facebook.com/joyfullycork

https://www.instagram.com/joyfully_createdincork

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