Two days before St. Patrick’s Day, Dublin-based The Irish Fairy Door Company celebrated its official U.S. launch with a press event yesterday at Midtown Manhattan’s Playwright Tavern.
At the same time the toy supplier, which according to director Niamh Sherwin Barry provides “a unique portal for children and their parents to tap into their imaginations and explore a magical world that only they can create,” announced a partnership in North America with Starlight Children’s Foundation, which works with hospitals, specialty clinics and camps, respite houses and hospices in improving the quality of life and health for children and families around the world.
The Irish Fairy Door Company was established just over two years ago by life-long friends Barry and Aoife Lawler along with their husbands Oisin Barry and Gavin Lawler. The product centers on high quality miniature wooden “fairy doors” available in a variety of colors and styles. Each door can be decorated with optional add-ons like vinyl wall decals, sparkling “Irish fairy dust,” and fairy clothes—made in Ireland—along with a clothes line.
The fairy door itself comes with three stepping stones, a “Fairy/Family Lease” agreement, a Fairy Welcome Guide, a fairy notepad for writing notes to the fairy, and a little bottled key to be left out overnight. If the key is gone in the morning, a fairy has moved in. Children are then encouraged to name and register the fairy online and thereby unlock regularly updated content including exclusive stories, play ideas and email messages from “Fairy Valley.”
“It’s rather remarkable to watch a child’s face light up when they discover the magic behind these doors,” said Niamh. “That’s why we felt that it was so important to partner with the Starlight Children’s Foundation, as we wanted to bring this magical experience to children who are in need of some much needed fun.”
The Irish Fairy Door Company story is somewhat of a fairy tale in its own right. Niamh noted that both couples had been hit hard by recession in Ireland when “something genuinely magical happened.”
“We were sitting around the table with a friend and making fairy doors, and our children believed there were real fairies behind them,” she said. “They were having fun talking about what the fairies were doing, and Gavin thought maybe we could make money from them. My mom had given up cigarettes nine years previously and saved all the money she would have spent, and when she heard what we wanted to do and that we had no money, she gave it all to us and we designed the doors and launched the company in 2013. Now we walk down the road wearing our logo and people stop us!”
Over 250,000 fairy doors have now been sold worldwide, according to company estimates.
“You can put them up in your house or garden, and when the fairies arrive from Ireland, it’s like getting a dog!” said Niamh. “They become part of the family—and part of the children’s lives. Something seriously special happens when the key is gone.”
The Irish Fairy Door play experience, she continued, “goes back to how we used to play—using imagination.”
“I know I’m biased, but there’s something incredibly special and moving about it—and seeing the children play,” she concluded. “It’s a good product that represents hope for people who have had a hard time, and a genuine dream come true for us to be here.”