A LegenDerry showcase for Derry!

Ann Marie Coyle, founder of Legenderry Ladies. 2206JM02

Ann Marie Coyle, founder of Legenderry Ladies. 2206JM02

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You know there’s a gap in the market when you put a call out for participants for a new group and almost instantly, you have nearly 300 enthusiastic members wanting to sign up.

That’s what local woman Ann Marie Coyle discovered when she went about starting a forum for women from the North West who were working independently on their own business ideas.

With a wealth of experience in retail and customer service, and wanting to keep her brain active during maternity leave, Woodbrook woman Ann Marie, already director of her own business Moo & Boo bags, decided to put a call out to other women in the Derry area who were trying to give their business ideas a kick start. And, so, the concept of ‘LegenDerry Ladies’ was born.

“It’s really snowballed since I first put a call out in March,” said Ann Marie this week in the midst of busy preparations for the LegenDerry Ladies’ showcase in the Richmond Centre next weekend.

“Firstly, I mentioned online what I was hoping to do, I wanted to celebrate the talents and achievements of so many women in this area who are working in isolation in their own homes, sometimes because of family commitments and also because of health issues. It’s unbelievable how many are running enterprises and some of the crafts are so unique. There are hidden gems all over the North West and LegenDerry Ladies is aiming to put the news out there about what’s happening.

“I was overwhelmed with the response at the first meeting and I was hearing so many inspirational stories about women who’d overcome big obstacles to set up their own enterprises. I wanted us to get together and decide ways that we could showcase the creativity and bring many of the women who were working hard out of the isolation of working alone and having to do everything by themselves.”

While home grown crafts account for around half of the work produced by women in the dynamic collective, other areas of expertise include writing, music, storytelling, chocolate making and beauty.

“It’s so varied, we have a real eclectic mix of women who are working independently,” says Ann Marie.

“We even have a few accountants who would previously have worked from an office, and now, since having children, have set up at home. We want to promote that kind of balance and feel that if we work together we can promote what we’re doing and support one another and bring people into this city to avail of the services we can provide. We want to establish a new customer base where at the minute, there are a lot of people travelling out of town for certain things, particularly the craft side of things.

“My hope, over the coming months, is that we can develop what these women need, for example things like Facebook training where people can learn the best way to go about promoting their business. We want to establish LegenDerry Ladies as a name that people will think about instantly when looking at big events in the North West and that they’ll look upon the group as a ‘go to’ place for the best in local enterprise.

“While we’ve taken the inspiration for the name from the use of ‘Legenderry’ in terms of the City of Culture, we have big plans to develop the group and make it last way beyond 2013.”