An organisation founded in lockdown is putting Northern Ireland’s social enterprises and local businesses on the map, including competing successfully to supply the NI Bureau in Washington, DC with ‘Gifts with Purpose’ for key stakeholders in the US.
Storybox, a registered Community Interest Company (CIC), was established in November 2020 after founder Rachel McIlgorm considered ways to apply her experience in business and marketing to support local and social businesses from across Northern Ireland.
Through support and mentoring from organisations such as Work West Enterprise Agency (through Belfast City Council Programmes) and Social Enterprise NI, Storybox has become an increasingly popular option for individuals and groups who wish to buy a gift and celebrate the stories of talented local creators and social enterprises.
Speaking of the growth and success of Storybox since its inception, founder Rachel said:
“Over recent years the message and importance of shopping local has become increasingly prevalent. With the rise of giant online retailers, there has been increased pressure on many smaller local and social businesses who may struggle to make the same impact online. At Storybox, we are proud to create a space to share the stories and products of fantastic homegrown organisations. We were delighted to work with the NI Bureau to showcase some of the best local and social businesses we have to offer.”
The businesses included in the gift boxes were Refuge Chocolate, Bolster Community, Helping Communities cUp (HICUP), NearyNógs Chocolate, Suki Tea Makers, Lavender Line Photography, Arbee Print & Design and Danni Simpson Art.
Speaking about the decision to work with Storybox, Eamon McConville, Deputy Director from the Northern Ireland Bureau said:
“An important part of the work of the Bureau is to showcase the very best of local produce here in North America. This year the success of Storybox in winning the work, enabled us to draw attention to the power of the social enterprise model to give back to the community, whilst also illustrating Northern Ireland’s capability for well-designed, innovative and high-quality products from the region.”
To date, Storybox has supported 21 local and social businesses from across Northern Ireland with nearly 1000 gift boxes having been delivered across Northern Ireland and beyond. Storybox’s success has been recognised as a finalist in the ‘Ones to Watch’ category at the recent Social Enterprise NI awards.