My route into InterTradeIreland consultancy started with storytelling. My background is broadcast journalism in BBC. I spent 16 years in newsrooms where the goal was always getting the story across to the listener in clean, tight, accessible, accurate copy.
I moved into food writing as a side-line initially, but it was something I always wanted to do. I became Chief Food Writer of Flavour magazine, a contributor to the Farmer's Guardian and the Irish Farmer's Journal and joined the UK and Irish Guilds of Food Writers.
I became the Food NI food writer and still write their Guidebooks which means I know hundreds of producers and chefs.
My BBC training and experience in storytelling and my habit of always keeping my contacts up to date extended into that and later led to my first job as an Elevate consultant for Achill Mountain Lamb.
I had covered their story of their superb lamb and how the family do everything from rearing to slaughtering to butchering to selling and they told me how sales had been significantly boosted as a result. They also loved that I was from Northern Ireland, now living in Galway and could I help grow their business cross-border?
I approached the project as I would a news story. Who do I need to tell about this? How do I get the essence of it across? What contacts do I have to make this happen?
That project led to Peter Hannan of the Meat Merchant taking the meat and increased courier sales. There was so much potential that I moved onto Acumen and sales are still improving month on month. The company has also won 2 Great Taste Awards and a Gold Award at Blas na hEireann this year.
Another company I have a long history with is Glastry Farm Ice-Cream. I first interviewed Will Taylor for Evening Extra 10 years ago when he won a Great Taste Award for his Kilbeggan Whiskey ice-cream. I suggested new flavours and he discovered a fellow foodie. Now, I have helped establish a strong Republic of Ireland market and new distribution channels through Acumen.
I have done the same for Burren Balsamics which I am delighted to say has just won Best Artisan at Blas na hEireann and is about to launch a new range.
I love the diversity and the realisation that my skills were so transferable. Nothing beats face to face communication, good relationships and straight dealing. I only ever work with people whose products I really believe in and which taste amazing. I never promise more than I can deliver but I do give 100 per cent.
Their feedback to me on InterTradeIreland is 100 per cent positive too. We all want the same thing- increased cross-border trade and prosperity. That’s the InterTradeIreland way.
Article published by Barbara Collins