Wild Atlantic Gifts

Christine Bleakey at Malin Head
Christine Bleakey at Malin Head

Wild Atlantic Gifts - Ireland's Most Northerly Gift Shop, offers a wide range of Celtic art prints, greeting cards, organic seaweed cosmetics / products, handmade soya wax candles - and much more. Established in April 2014,Wild Atlantic Gifts aims to become a premier manufacturer & retailer of local art and crafts. With a prime location at Malin Head, they promote the very best of local Donegal craft & strive to give visitors to the area and online customers something unique.   We caught up with Shane Glackin recently and this is his story.

What is your connection to Donegal?  

I was born and raised in Malin Head. After working away for many years my wife and I wanted to return to Malin Head to raise our family. It would mean a lot to us to develop a self sustaining business with employment opportunities in our local area.  

When did you set up your business?                                                                            

We set up in April 2014. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable summer, meeting and welcoming visitors from all over the world at Ireland’s most northerly point. We have shared our love of Irish culture, art and craft and have felt such great positivity from locals and visitors. It has been a bonus working in such a beautiful and majestic part of Donegal – we are very proud of Malin Head. It is the place we choose to raise our family and a very strong part of our identity.

Who or what is your main market? 

Initially our market was visitors to Malin Head, however with the unique skills of John Quigley on board, and the quality range of seaweed products from AlgAran – we plan to develop our online market place – wildatlanticgifts.com. We also hope to establish a publishing company and manufacturing base in Malin Head.  Wild Atlantic Gifts plan to expand different facets of the domestic market and also the overseas markets.  Our aim is to ensure that quality Irish products and Irish culture are promoted to the global Irish Diaspora.

How do you run your business from Donegal? Give us a feel for how it all works.

Well it’s very much a family run enterprise. My wife and I are helped by members of my family, who offer great support....really it has been three months of research – trying out different products, looking at our set up, reviewing our social marketing and promotion.  We have a pitch at Ireland’s most northerly point and have had great fun engaging with visitors and locals alike all summer. It’s been a great education in getting to know the customer.

Why choose Donegal as a place for business?

Donegal is our home and our wish has been to develop a business that will employ local people in Malin Head, whilst also promoting Malin Head & Donegal. The Wild Atlantic Way initiative has proved for our initial start up to be very positive. Wild Atlantic Gifts looks forward to continuing to work with Fáilte Ireland and Donegal County Council in pursuing this objective.

Does doing business in Donegal differ from doing business elsewhere?

No, not really – I have worked in the public and private sectors in Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland in the past – I suppose it’s new to us dealing face to face with visitors to Malin Head ...but the ethos we espouse is that you will never get a second chance to make the first impression. The culture then of Wild Atlantic Gifts is of friendly, knowledgeable people – passionate about Donegal and the quality products that are handmade in  Donegal.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Describe your work / life balance? 

I work part time in HR and Health & Safety with Donegal Local Development Company Limited....and I have balanced this with the Wild Atlantic Gifts venture.  It been a full on experience this summer, as any business set up takes a lot of effort and energy, but we are a strong team and we work well together.

What has been the biggest challenge you faced and how did you meet it?

We initially envisaged Wild Atlantic Gifts as a retail outlet for sweets and local art work....very soon we realised that the business needed to step back and marry local handmade crafts into Wild Atlantic Gifts...and take charge of designing, manufacturing, and producing our own unique gifts and products.  It took many late night debates and discussions – but with the support of local agencies we changed our approach completely – which is now a multi faceted business with several different projects currently being worked on.

What are your hopes for the future here and for your business?

Our hopes for the future are simple - we hope our down to earth business approach together with our unique range of local products and love of Malin Head can showcase Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way to the wider Irish Diaspora. Everyone connected with the business wants it to move to the next level. We need to recruit key skilled people who can assist us in up scaling the business into more diverse markets.  Our other main hope is the positive promotion of Malin Head and Donegal as a unique and spectacular corner of Ireland – well worth a visit.  

Any advice for someone looking to set up a business in Donegal?

We have been fortunate to have completed Masters at the University of Ulster,  giving  us a good grounding in business & marketing.  You must have a plan – fail to plan, plan to fail.  Shape your first year as research – a probationary period for you and the business – and don’t be afraid of a challenge or to take a chance – fortune favours the brave – Dhún na nGall Abú!


Further information www.wildatlanticgifts.com