From learning how to weave baskets to starting her own business as a result, how the ACORNS alumni and Helena Golden Willow Woman founder turned digital to her advantage.
We talk to rural women entrepreneurs from across Ireland who recently took part in the ACORNS programme.
Women in rural Ireland with new businesses or at least with well-developed ideas are being invited to join next phase of the programme ACORNS 8. The ACORNS programme is designed to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland through a peer learning approach. Thanks to the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the voluntary contribution of time by Lead Entrepreneurs, there is no charge for those selected to participate.
“Within a few weeks of the initial lockdown, I was delivering live basket making classes over Zoom. The publicity and feedback generated by that led to the business going from strength to strength”
The call is now open for applicants for ACORNS 8 and 50 female entrepreneurs from across the country will be selected to participate. Anyone interested in receiving an application form ahead of the midnight 23 September deadline for ACORNS 8 should register their interest here
Helena Golden Willow Woman
Helena Golden had been working in management roles in the food industry and in community and rural development before she decided to branch out on her own with her basket making business.
That came about gradually as Helena, a native of Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, whose business is based in Leitrim Village, was keen to pursue her interest in a more sustainable lifestyle and achieve a greater work life/family life balance.
By reducing her work responsibilities, Helena had the opportunity to do the first of many basket making courses, which ultimately led to her weaving a range of baskets and commencing trading at a craft market in Sligo, where she found that many customers were keen to be taught basket making.
So, she took a career break and founded her company Helena Golden Willow Woman in February 2020.
Helena now travels around the country delivering classes on the ancient and traditional craft of basket making with a modern twist. She also has a range of basketry items available for sale, including make-at-home willow craft kits, and she delivers classes to community groups, day care centres, schools and women’s groups as well as doing live online training.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown were paramount to the success of the business because within a few weeks of the initial lockdown, I was delivering live basket making classes over Zoom. The publicity and feedback generated by that led to the business going from strength to strength.”
She says the really supportive nature of ACORNS and the opportunity to take time out from the business and share ideas and network with likeminded people was very helpful.
Helena currently employs an administrative assistant, and she is planning to employ basket makers to help expand the business while also expanding her product range.