Donegal’s Arty Fox chases crafty export opportunity

ACORNS alumni Feena McBride, founder of Donegal business The Arty Fox, found inspiration in the pandemic to start her business.

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.

“I plan to be exporting to the UK and Europe within 18 months”

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

The Arty Fox

Feena McBride, from the village of Kilmacrennan in Co Donegal, found inspiration from the Covid-19 pandemic to start her business The Arty Fox in November 2020.

A primary school teacher and mother of four children, Feena creates craft boxes for children of primary school age that encourage them to use their own imagination and create art of which they can be proud.

Feena says that her experience as a teacher and mother came together with her love of art when she saw an opportunity to create a way for parents to entertain their children during lockdowns.

Now on a career break from teaching, Feena started The Arty Fox with a Facebook page and a website that she built herself. She launched it with two products – a Christmas Card Box and a Get Crafty Box.

Feena has since created a number of seasonal and holiday-related craft products. She has also added workshops to the brand after seeing a demand for them.

As well as Feena, The Arty Fox has two part-time employees. Her biggest business milestone to date was getting the opportunity for The Arty Fox to be featured on the Late Late Toy Show in 2021.

“This gave validation to the brand and opened up a whole new set of customers.

“The supportive atmosphere in ACORNS created by Lead Entrepreneur, Larissa Feeney of Accountant Online, helped the participants to navigate the highs and lows of running a business,” she explained.

“I plan to be exporting to the UK and Europe within 18 months,” she added.

Feena also wants to increase the number of retail outlets in Ireland that stock her products, to work on the sustainability of the range, and to form a collaboration with a charity or children’s hospital.

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