The Early Years
So, where do I begin. I grew up in the west of Ireland on a small dairy farm, milking cows, feeding chickens and rearing turf as well as being creative in all things crafty. It was something that came naturally to me and I knew I either wanted to become a farmer or an artist one day. Andy on the other hand grew up in Surrey but spent many of his school summer holidays with his grandparents in the Isle of Wight. This was a place he felt at home, enjoying the freedom of the countryside and exploring his love of nature. Fastforward some years later having met in London we decided to return to my native village Lisacul, Roscommon to live and work.
Escape To The Country
Andy carried on working in the building trade, whilst I returned to art college to complete my degree in fine art and pursue a career as a visual artist in oil painting. It was always an ambition of mine to start a separate business, but I never knew just what is was going to be. One day in late August 2010, Andy became laid up after suddenly suffering a slipped disc. Whilst he recovered, I suggested he try his hand at drawing some wildlife using a technique called 'reverse glass painting'. We experimented with lots of off cuts from framing material which we used for my art work and turned it into something lovely.
The Start of A New Idea
After making a number of framed glass paintings we headed off to some local agricultural and craft shows to see what people thought of them. To our delight we found that people loved them and so we went about creating a unique style of our own and gave ourselves a name inspired by our lovely black Orpington hens.
A few years later we took a stand with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland at Bloom in The Park and it was there we met the buyer from a chain of retail stores based in Ireland who wanted to stock our product and we are proud to say we stock all their stores to this day.
Afterwards we started attending a tradeshow called Showcase held in Dublin each year in the search of new stockists around Ireland. When applying for a stand to showcase our products we put ourselves forward for selection to show in the coveted area in 'Design Ireland' which we achieved four years in a row of applying, receiving one of 'Best in Show' a number of times. This included one curated by Eleanor Harpur, (Stylist and retail consultant) which was based on current interior design trends at the time but also on quality and timelessness. Being passionate about being the best we can be, it was wonderful to be selected along with 13 other Irish designers and makers featuring in a collaboration between Brown Thomas and Design Ireland, as they launched an interior and gifting pop-up shop at their iconic Grafton Street store called 'Create'. Other collaborations included working with Kilkenny Designs creative manager on a number of window displays in their flagship store in Dublin to promote our work and Meet The Maker in the Kildare Village.
Over time we have featured in a number of articles such as The Irish Examiner, Giftfocus, Discover Ireland and more recently in 2022 we were delighted to be contacted by the Newstalk team for a wonderful radio interview with Pat Kenny called 'Keep it Local' (which can be listened back on podcast).
As well as our very successful online store which we started all those years ago, we now supply over 80 shops including multiple stores and selected independent retail shops who are passionate about quality and great design throughout Ireland, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, France and Germany.
P.S We would very much like to give a huge thank you to our Local Enterprise Board Office here in Roscommon for all the support and training they have given us over the years.