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  • Looking back to plan forward - how history has helped to shape our culture.

     

    In today’s world, there are few businesses that can proudly trace their roots back to the nineteenth century. One thing that is certain, is that a company can only survive for this length of time if they have deep cultural ties and operate with integrity.

    A shared history is a large part of what binds us into a community and imbues a group with a distinct identity. A history with a narrative thread also helps people understand what is happening around them.

    Part of working for a company that has a long history, is benefitting from the traditions that are built into that company over its generations of operation.

    For 140 years, Ulster Weavers  has been at the forefront of textile design and innovation, combining high-quality products with traditional and contemporary designs to produce homeware, giftware, kitchen textiles ans Irish linens.

    Part of the bigger picture

    The history of an organisation can stimulate a sense of identity and purpose and advocate the goals that will resonate. At Ulster Weavers, a fifth-generation family business, we are proud of our heritage. So much so we have recently set up a ‘mini-museum’ in our office showcasing important pieces from our past.

    This helps us to see ourselves as part of the story that is still unfolding and something much larger than ourselves. It has become a great talking point where stories have been shared from days gone by, as we are fortunate to have among us colleagues with a service span of 35 years plus and stem from a generation of Ulster Weaver employees! Who doesn’t love a great story?

    Hearing how our business has evolved from a small factory floor and manufacturing company to a worldwide brand has been a wonderful way to motivate, provide direction, inspire desired behaviours, and spark innovation.

    A common thread in all the stories told, is the fierce sense of pride and loyalty towards our brand and this mindset and set of behaviour are infectious. This attitude is apparent throughout the organisation. One such anecdote, when discussing hard times in textile industry in the late 90’s, recalled ‘it hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been fun’. The people are grateful to be here, and the leaders are even more grateful to have them. It demonstrates how our purpose extends beyond our profits.

    From our headquarters & design hub in Holywood, our office in New York, our factories and outlet store in Banbridge to our many exclusive distributors across the globe, our passion and spirit is still evident in everything that we do.

    Ulster Weavers global family!

    Heritage is the legacy left to us by those who came before us

    It is fair to say that companies with deep rooted histories are more likely to have traditions that benefit their customers, like better customer service and a concern for their reputation—not just because reputation is everything in business, but also because the reputation is not just theirs, it belongs to all the stakeholders and those that have come before.

    The beginning of a great adventure

    When Ulster Weavers was founded 1880, the core business objective was to be the provider the highest quality linens produced in Ireland. Named after the region that had become world famous for the creators of the finest linen, Ulster Weavers quickly made itself synonymous with Irish linen production and expanded throughout the late 19th and early 20th century.

    During the 1960s, Ulster Weavers started producing kitchen textiles, a move that came to define us as a company. Starting with tea towels, the popularity of these items, due to their quality and interesting designs, quickly led the brand to expand into other areas of kitchenware, from aprons to oven gloves, tea cosies to doorstops, while retaining our focus on quality and quirky designs. This proved to be a tremendous success and suddenly we had new global fan base.

    Relationships are key

    Throughout our history, we have partnered with, and continue to supply to some of the world's most famous department stores to produce their bespoke range of kitchen textiles and homeware. We also have worked some of the most innovative and exciting designers around, together producing some of the most iconic ranges in our collection.

    Ulster Weavers Designer Jennie Harvey with her famous Royal Wedding Tea Towel.

    As well as famous brands, we have also worked with individual designers to help us bring new and interesting ranges. This includes big industry names like Clarissa Hulse, Madeleine Floyd, Sophie Conran and RHS. All who have collaborated with our in-house team to design everything from ultra-modern patterns to twists on traditional designs and seasonal styles, providing a depth of character unparalleled in the industry.

    Our vision for the future

    We have worked hard to build a company to be proud of, helping to brighten up homes for more than a century. Today we continue to grow and whilst continuing to service our loyal customer base with our more traditional ranges we have also a brand-new range of designs with a more contemporary twist. In recent years we have introduced two new brands to our family, Story Horse our travel, bags and fashion accessories brand and LoveOlli our home fragrance & gift brand.

    We are fortunate to have our history as a management tool, as invariably it shapes the way we view vision, strategy, and entrepreneurship, and decisions made in the past often confine our available solutions for the future. Whilst we strive towards new horizons we never will forgot the journey we have taken to get here, and lessons learnt along the way.

    It is good to talk!

    A business simply cannot survive and flourish without a strong culture and robust set of values. Culture is created by leaders through the behaviours that are rewarded and corrected, and it is instilled by the people through their loyalty, pride and commitment to excellence. Upon joining Ulster Weavers as a recruit, you are not welcomed as simply a ‘new employee’ you are welcomed to the family. That speaks volumes. Nostalgia has a much more powerful influence on people than straight facts and statistics.

    If your business has a great story, make sure you talk about it as we would love to hear it.

    “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” – Indian proverb.

  • Once upon a brand... The undeniable value in 'story branding'

    In today’s highly competitive market, brands are in fierce competition to stand out from the crowd and convince consumers to buy into and stay loyal to their brand.

    For many this is not an easy task and without a strong brand, organisations are in a very weak position. So, what do successful brands have that others do not over and above a first-class product or service? The answer is simple; an authentic, compelling brand story that taps into human emotions. People simply crave the emotional and powerful connection that comes through telling a story, hence the overwhelming popularity of social media.

    The power of a great story

    One of the best examples of this is Lego. Lego achieved a massive surge in sales and brand awareness following the release of ‘The Lego Movie’. This movie was so cleverly written it appealed to both adults and children and made a strong emotional connection with the viewer, whilst immersing its product in every single scene. The Lego movie made us believe that Lego was more than a toy, Lego encouraged the ‘Master Builder’ within all of us to shine. Lego clearly understood and excellently executed their brand purpose by marketing their product as much more than a toy brick, they marketed it as an opportunity to release your potential. This then compelled consumers to trust and connect with the brand on an emotional level.

    Lego enabled us to believe that we are only as limited as our imagination allows us and of course not forgetting the theme tune that parents everywhere are familiar with ‘everything is awesome when you’re part of a team’.

    We think our Ulster Weavers team is pretty awesome too. We work hard to ‘brighten the lives of those around us’ by bringing affordable luxury and inspiration into homes around the globe. ‘Brightening the lives of those around us’, is our brand proposition, what we promise to deliver to our customers and our colleagues every day. But for our brand proposition to be believable and authentic, we need to be able to tell our story too - in our case, it is quite something for a business to be able to trace their history back to the nineteenth century. Our heritage has afforded us the knowledge that all great products & ideas evolve from great people coming together pursuing a vision.

    In the resonating words of Zig Ziglar ‘You don’t build a business, you build people and build the business’.

    Any successful leader will agree that all the ‘a ha’ moments arise from shared vision, passion and collaboration from fully engaged people within their business who feel and live your brand. After all, no one knows your business, your culture, your customers and your brand better than your own people.

    Kaira Rouda, founder & president of Real Living cites that "For your business brand to resonate with customers, it must be based on something truly genuine: your reality, your passions."

    Story Horse the fashion accessory brand of Ulster Weavers came about when two friends, one cold and miserable Monday morning in February had an idea. What if we made a collection of things we’d love to use, at affordable prices that were a bit different from what’s on the high street, that would feel so special you’d want to buy them as gifts for friends, too?  Luckily for Ulster Weavers these two friends were Ulster Weavers designer Olive McCaughan along with Operations Director, Wendy Hamilton. Olive and Wendy together had the creative passion for design and the insight into how we could create something special that fulfilled a need our of customers.

    Story Horse is about creating products that accompany you on life’s journeys and on the adventures that add to everyone’s personal story. The concept of Story Horse is to encourage people to ‘live life & create your own story’. For organisations everywhere, what better way to encourage your people to buy into your story than to let them create it.

  • Honey to the Bee

    Honey to the Bee

    Honey has a deserved reputation as a bit of a wonder-food, having been used not only for sustenance, but also for medicinal purposes over the years. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons we treasure our beautiful native bee population and why we are celebrating it through our gorgeous new Bee Keeper range.

    While honey is renowned for its health benefits, most of us don’t really know why it’s good for us, so we thought we’d spread the word with some fascinating facts about why honey makes life sweeter!

    Healing

    The ancient Egyptians put honey to work healing wounds and burns, and this is still a popular use today. This could be due to the fact that all honey is naturally anti-bacterial; in fact Manuka honey treats over 250 clinical strains of bacteria and has even been found to stimulate the production of immune cells.

    Coughs and sore throats

    Honey and lemon is a popular cough and cold remedy and evidence shows that honey is extremely effective at reducing symptoms by coating the throat, even rivalling popular medicinal remedies in effectiveness.

    Allergies

    The use of locally-made honey can be a fantastic natural antidote to hay fever, as it will contain elements of the local pollen that triggers your allergy. Eating local honey will help your body to build up an immunity to these particular pollens, even as little as a teaspoon a day. For the best results you need to start this regime around 2-3 months before your hay fever kicks in.

    Antioxidants

    High quality honey contains lots of antioxidants, which have been linked with reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and even some types of cancer. Some studies have also shown that honey can help to reduce bad cholesterol, while raising your ‘good’ cholesterol levels!

    Skincare

    Honey’s anti-bacterial qualities are especially good for your skin, which makes it a common ingredient in skin treatments and a must-have if you like to prepare homemade facemasks. For a soothing and refreshing facemask that’s easy to whip up at home, visit https://dontmesswithmama.com/diy-honey-facial-mask/

    Which honey?

    Raw honey is generally considered the best for health benefits as it contains vitamins, minerals and enzymes not present in refined honey. However, honey is not recommended for children under the age of 12 months.

    In the kitchen

    All of this is almost just a bonus when you consider how tasty honey is and how many ways it can be put to delicious use in the kitchen. Drizzled on cereal or pancakes, used as a glaze for meat or veg, or simply added to cakes or desserts as a sweetener, honey has countless culinary applications.

    In fact Delicious magazine has taken the time to collate a tantalising selection of some of the best recipes, which you can read here http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/collections/honey-recipes/

    Honey is clearly a household staple, whether in the medicine cabinet or the kitchen cupboard, it’s an item that we just can’t do without!

    To read more about the health benefits of honey click here https://www.well-beingsecrets.com/health-benefits-of-honey-ultimate-guide/

    or to celebrate the busy, buzzy makers of honey in your kitchen, take a look at our BeeKeeper range by clicking here!

     

  • Spring Refresh

    The long, cold winter is finally drawing to its conclusion, praise be! With the new shoots of spring, the lightening evenings and warming temperatures, it’s time to help your home step into the new season as well. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you need to repaint and decorate; our homeware will do the trick nicely.

    For the trend-lovers

    Spring 2018 is all about indigo blue. This vibrant colour provides fantastic contrast on sunny days and is bright enough to bring life to your home on dull, rainy ones. We love the colour, which is why we’ve designed our new Cat Nap range around it.

    Taking advantage of traditional Japanese Ink and brush techniques, as well as the aforementioned indigo blue, it’s a perfect choice for those who want to be up to date with the latest, greatest homeware trends, or those who simply love cats.

    Find the new range here.

    For the gardeners

    Spring is the most exciting time for amateur gardeners. It’s a chance to give your pride and joy a proper refresh after helping it survive through winter. Bring that joy of the emerging new blooms into your kitchen with one of our gorgeous RHS ranges.

    Horticulture is all about celebrating the sheer variety of plant life, and our various RHS ranges do just that. From the green shoots of Foliage, through to Traditional Rose, Chrysanthemum, Passiflora or Strawberry, all our RHS products can take root successfully in your kitchen.

    See all the RHS ranges here.

    For the spring lambs

    Spring will always be associated with lambs. The arrival of these cute little balls of wool is a great way to mark the seasonal change, so why not welcome some into your home as well?

    Dotty Sheep was our most popular range of 2017, and with good reason! You loved the modern design, contrasting shades of mustard and grey, and the sense of fun imparted by the collection.

    Fall in love with a new set of lambs this year, check out the full set of Dotty Sheep products here.

    For the woodland walkers

    Spring is a particularly stunning time for the woodlands and forests of the world. Bluebells and blossoms burst into life painting the forest in shades of white and blue, while birds sing in the trees and new aromas waft in the breeze.

    How could you not love the woodlands at this time of the year? We certainly do and have aimed to immortalise the majesty of this time of the year with our Woodland range. Forest animals take centre stage in this collection of tea towels and mugs, with foxes, pheasants and owls the star attractions.

    Why not check the set out for yourself on our website?

    Are you spring ready? If you have any tips you’d like to share with us, get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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