Council Supports Local Retailers as they get Back to Business

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has given a helping hand to local businesses as they prepare to reopen following Covid-19.

From Tuesday 16th June, hundreds of packs containing social distancing posters, masks, hand sanitisers, advice leaflets, visors and much more have been distributed to small independent retailers across the towns of Antrim, Ballyclare, Crumlin, Glengormley and Randalstown.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman John Smyth presents business pack to Lorraine McConnell, Joli, Ballyclare.

The packs help retailers introduce social distancing measures as well as providing advice and support from the Council on getting back to business. This initiative is part of Council’s Business Resilience and Revival Package which to date, has included a number of online business workshops and webinars. Topics include Innovation and Changing Work Practices, Re-Opening with the Greatest Impact and a Complete Guide to E-Commerce.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman John Smyth said, “Businesses throughout our Borough have been hit hard by the current pandemic and it is important they reopen safely. The Council is assisting businesses to get back up and running and I would encourage business owners to avail of the support and help available. I would also take this opportunity to ask everyone to show their support for these businesses and Shop Local over the forthcoming weeks to revitalise our towns and commercial centres.”

If you are a business in Antrim and Newtownabbey and would like to access Council business support please text BUSINESS to 80039 or E. Information is also available on the Council’s website or alternatively visit for additional help and guidance.

Bushmills is Open for Business!

The Bushmills Business Association has welcomed the news that non essential shops can re-open and in preparation have added a retail focused sub group to support businesses further.

This popular North Coast village has a wide variety of retail offerings including stylish boutiques, antiques, souvenirs, art galleries, a small museum and craft shops making it a must stop destination.

Pam McAllister and Karen Yates from the BBA retail group discussing their upcoming re-opening.

Ian Bickerstaff from Gallery 1608 joined the BBA retail group as he recognised the potential to collaborate more with other business owners in the village. His experience in strategic and financial management brings fresh new thinking to the group.  ‘As a group we are planning a positive campaign over the next couple of months to get the message out that Bushmills is back in Business’. Gallery 1608 houses one of Northern Irelands largest Fine Art Collection showcasing the talents of Irelands Top Artists. The Gallery also champions many local crafts including sculptures, ceramics and a stunning range of handmade jewellery. The Gallery moved quickly, on the closure of their shop in March, by investing in their website introducing a seamless online shopping option. Gallery owner Ian admits ‘Many of my customers like to view our collection in the space we have created, they enjoy talking to our experienced team about the artist so we have been working hard to allow that to happen and in addition we are now offering one to one appointments on selected evenings, by appointment ’.

Karen Yates founder and designer of Taylor Yates luxury soft leather handbags also joined the working group and brings her broad experience in business and marketing. Karen is currently the part time CEO of Coleraine Chamber and is working at the highest levels to engage with Stormont on economic recovery plans. Speaking about her own business Karen explains that her customers fall in love with her bags once they get the opportunity to touch and feel how soft the leather is so she is offering virtual appointments with the option of sending customers a sample of British leather to do just that while they are having a virtual one to one. Karen believes businesses need to think differently and become more flexible in the short term to survive.

Pam McAllister of Therapy Style, a popular fashion boutique, has been a successful business owner in Bushmills for 18 years and has been an active member of the BBA. Pam has welcomed the opportunity to chat to other retailers particularly during this difficult time. ‘It been very challenging but I have   focused on building my connection with my loyal customers and reach out to new customers, I spent lockdown rebranding, online sales, focusing more on social media and giving my shop a face lift. I am offering my customers the opportunity to book exclusive one to one appointments and as a virtual version offering Fashion FaceTime slots which I’m really excited about, I have really missed my customers’ and adds ‘Chatting to other retailers has been really helpful and  going forward we believe that working together will be a key part of getting back on track.

BBA Vice Chairman Gary Stewart congratulated all three businesses for coming together at this stage and commended all the essential businesses who delivered excellent levels of service to residents during the pandemic. He added ‘We have a lot of hospitality businesses in Bushmills but we must not forget about our wide ranging retail offering and we are optimistic for our economic recovery and  hopeful that other retailers will get involved as things settle down’

Embrace the Giant Tastes of Northern Ireland

LIVE cheese tasting celebrating local produce at home

16th June 2020: Discover NI is hosting a virtual cheese tasting and pairing workshop on Friday 19th June, showcasing stand out artisanal produce to help you create the perfect Northern Ireland cheese board at home.

Indue Fude’s Johnny McDowell

The educational session will be hosted by local food champion Johnny McDowell, founder and co-owner of Indie Füde, a delicious delicatessen nestled in the heart of Comber in County Down. Johnny is extremely passionate about local produce, with vast knowledge of the superb products available on our doorstep.

Named Best Food Destination last year, Northern Ireland is home to world renowned local produce, including delicious cheeses.

With Johnny sharing the stories behind many Northern Ireland’s cheese producers, Facebook Live viewers will also learn about local artisan beverages to pair with cheeses, such as gins, ciders or craft beers, to achieve the perfect flavours.

From Young Buck Cheese based in Newtownards, Dart Mountain Cheese from the Sperrin Mountains and Ballylisk Cheese in Armagh, session participants will learn more about the award-winning products from across Northern Ireland. 

As an opportunity to continue to support local artisan producers, particularly during this time, tune in and enjoy learning about the mouth-watering flavours via: 

Discover Northern Ireland Facebook Page

Friday 19th June, 6.30pm

Follow the Discover Northern Ireland social channels for updates and where to purchase delicious local cheeses, embracing the spirit of Northern Ireland during the time.

Lyric Theatre Belfast has the reason to keep giving out Good Vibrations

Since the start of the lockdown in March the team at Lyric Theatre Belfast has been committed to adapt, innovate and provide audiences with access to great theatre via their online platform, Lyric Theatre Online. This is set to continue with the announcement that their huge 2018 hit Good Vibrations, starring Aaron McCusker, will be available for 24 hours on Wednesday 17th June from 8pm.

Katie Richardson – Good Vibrations (Credit Chris Heaney)

“New York has the haircuts, London has the trousers, but Belfast has the reason!” The hit production Good Vibrations, adapted for stage from the popular film, starring Aaron McCusker (Bohemian Rhapsody, Shameless) and directed by Des Kennedy (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) follows the life of radical, rebel and music lover Terri Hooley (Aaron McCusker) on a mission to create an alternative Ulster,by uncovering some of the best punk bands of the 70’s. This is the feel good, rebellious, two-fingers-up production and must-see lockdown theatre.

Looking forward to Good Vibrations streaming from Lyric Theatre Online, Des Kennedy  commented:

“I’m really pleased the Lyric are streaming this production.  It feels like a good time to be showing this story about a city on lockdown.  Good Vibrations shows Terri challenging bigotry, police intimidation and white supremacy and it is about young people rising up and trying to smash a system that only offers violence, poverty and lack of opportunity. As the world goes through a period of radical transformation, Good Vibrations challenges its audience to “grab it, change it, it’s yours!”

Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer, Lyric Theatre said:

“This is an incredibly difficult and challenging time for everyone in the Arts sector. With many theatres forced to close for the foreseeable future,  it is so important that we look to ways to adapt, innovate and work together as we seek to navigate our way through the recovery plan for this new normal. We continue with our commitment to programming for Lyric Theatre Online with the hugely popular ‘Good Vibrations’. This vibrant, engaged, relevant production is something that’s very much needed during these times. We also continue with our commitment to support, as much as we possibly can, everyone connected to our magnificent theatre from our staff to freelancers.  The arts play a key part in our civic lives and much as it is a lifeline to us while we are in lockdown, it will be just as important to help us as a society heal from this crisis. I am convinced that it will continue to be as important in the future as it always has been.”

As a charity, the Lyric relies upon its audience for up to two-thirds of their income and is the largest employer of freelance actors and other theatre professionals in Northern Ireland. To help Lyric withstand this impact please consider making a small donation as you enjoy this production of Good Vibrations. All support is greatly appreciated.

Good Vibrations was supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

Good Vibrations is available to view for free from 17th June from 8pm for 24 hours only on and  Follow Lyric Theatre on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @LyricBelfast #LyricEntertain.

As Lockdown Lifts Are You Utilising LinkedIn To Find New Customers?

Across the country businesses are being given the green light to re-open following a lengthy period of closure.

Whilst there may be a range of practical considerations they need to be thinking about it’s vital business owners aren’t forgetting the importance of creating engaging and relevant content on social media.

That’s the message from content specialist and publicist Tina Calder of Excalibur Press who will be presenting her free webinar Supercharge Your LinkedIn With Great Content tomorrow (Wednesday June 17) at 3pm.

She said: “For many businesses, especially those who are targeting business people or are working in a b2b setting, they should not underestimate the power of showing your customers that you’re back, you’re stronger than ever and able to give them content that they can and will engage with.

“When a crisis happens in a business more often than not things such as social media, digital marketing and communications tend to be pushed to the side in favour of what is considered an immediate need. 

“The problem with that is by the time you do put focus into these things it’s often too late.

“Creating strong, engaging, organic content now can help to support your brand to return to the market and back up your marketing and sales strategy for your comeback.”

Tina’s 90-minute webinar Supercharge Your LinkedIn With Great Content will help attendees unlock some of the secrets of the popular b2b social platform and is packed full of top tips, tricks, tools and techniques to help you go it alone and do it yourself.

Tina added: “This webinar will go over some of the basics of optimising your profile, however, what we will focus on more is the content, what should you share, how do you share, where do you find it and how can you use it to maximise your opportunities, get sales leads and raise the profile of yourself, your brand and/or your business.”

Supercharge Your LinkedIn With Great Content is part of a series of free webinars each week by Tina and Excalibur Press helping businesses look at a variety of elements of their digital transformation during the Covid-19 crisis.

One element of this webinar is Tina’s 79 types of content you can share on the platform.

To give you a taste of these, here are just 9:

1.  How to

‘How to’ content offers your audience massive value and often performs well because you’re helping the audience to solve a problem that they (might) have. 

At the same time, publishing this type of content benefits you because you’re giving them an example of your expertise in your field. You can create a how-to video or set out the instructions step by step in text. 

Either way, they’ll thank you for it by consuming more of your content in the future.

2.  Case studies

Case studies are a big opportunity to demonstrate the value of your product or service, often by telling a real-life story of how your business has helped a customer or client of yours with a business problem.

In essence, case studies are a sales tool. The person reading the case study should be able to picture themselves using your product or service by the end they finish reading it.

The more interesting the angle or more challenging the client’s problem, the better for your case study and you’ll relate how your business was able to solve the problem for them. You should be portraying yourself as a supportive element and, ideally, you should back up the key points of your case study with data to convey the value of your product or service.

3.  Behind the scenes

Maybe you’ve heard it a million times before now, but it’s really true: people buy from other people. They like to know who they’re buying from and the behind-the-scenes content gives you a chance to really connect with your audience and humanise your brand.

Behind-the-scenes content is transparent, not excessively polished and, like a case study, is about the process. Your audience gets to see what’s going on behind the brand and the content helps them to understand your business better. It builds trust in your business and your expertise starts to shine through naturally.

4.  Opinion

An opinion piece gets people talking and can even become news in itself, but be careful not to become notorious. If your opinion pieces leave a nasty taste in your audience’s mouths regularly, they could harm your brand reputation. 

Ideally, the pieces should be balanced and base themselves on an objective analysis of the facts and evidence, not necessarily be providing the evidence itself. Note that just because a piece should be balanced, that doesn’t mean it can’t be hard-hitting if it’s appropriate to be so.

The purpose of an opinion piece is to help the reader form their own opinion and should enlighten them or empower them. All throughout, the piece should be entertaining enough for them to read right until the end and make them want to read more pieces by you. Be careful not to impose your own views heavily on them. You’ll lose your audience otherwise.

5.  Interviews

Unique content is crucial in content marketing and interviews are a terrific way to create this. They’re also an easy way to generate content. The person you’re interviewing will create lots of valuable material you can use for your content. You can then create a text article, video or podcast of the interview. Experiment with different media to find the one that suits you.

Interviews give you the chance to reach out to influencers in the industry, who can offer some excellent insight. 

Don’t worry about being on a ‘lower’ level than they are: the interview will give the influencer free publicity, so many will be happy to do it and if people see you interviewing several major influencers, they’ll start to perceive you as having slightly higher authority. They start to associate your business with the major influencers and you’ll become an influencer in your own right.

6.  Throwbacks

Everyone loves a blast from the past, which makes ‘throwback’ content a powerful content marketing tool. It’s nostalgic and allows you to create an emotional connection with their audience. It’s also a lot of fun and you can really engage your audience.

One way you can create throwback content is to dig into your business’s archives and share a video, picture or social post from your early days in the business. It could be from when you were just starting out and still trying to figure everything out as a business owner. You can compare yourself to now and discuss how far the business has come since then.

7.  “Meet the team” posts

Introducing your audience to your team is a part of your brand storytelling. It’s a powerful way to show your audience the people behind the brand, who are just as important as the company itself, and adds a personal touch to your content. Choose videos or text posts with an image, but either way, let people see your team.

Publishing “Meet the Team” content will also build trust with your audience. This is because you’re no longer “faceless”. When your audience sees names and faces, you become a “real” company to them all of a sudden. In an age where people are concerned about online scams, your “Meet the team” content will build your credibility.

8.  FAQs

The chances are you’ll hear some of the same questions a lot in your industry, which gifts you with a great opportunity to create truly valuable content for your audience in the form of FAQs. Make a note of the questions you hear most often — or even just all of the questions you hear — and create a separate LinkedIn post for each one and answer the question.

You can teach your audience and help them to learn about your industry. You can teach them about your products and services and how to use them successfully. You can discuss how you’ve helped other businesses. Answering people’s questions with your content will build trust and increase your credibility with your audience.

9.  Long form articles

Did you think that people want really short content on LinkedIn?

You’ll be surprised. The Content Marketing Institute has reported posts with 1 000 to 3 000 words get more shares, even though shorter content dominates LinkedIn. Posts can be text heavy and have simple elements such as bullet-pointed lists. You don’t have to pack them with images and charts etc.

The CMI suggested three main reasons for the higher numbers of shares that longer posts enjoy:

  • LinkedIn is a refuge from the pressure to add images and videos to prose.
  • People base their sharing activity on how important they perceive the author of the content to be. An impressive job title can capture as much attention as visual elements.
  • The structure as a network for professionals, which creates minimum expectations for entertaining content.

LinkedIn has evolved immensely in the last few years and is an essential tool for marketing your business. The platform offers lots of scope to create amazing content and, just like on other platforms, audiences will reward good content. They’re receptive to lots of different types, which means there are plenty of opportunities to produce excellent content and really build a positive brand image.

Register for Supercharge Your LinkedIn With Great Content at 

Tomorrow (Thursday June 18) Tina will also be delivering her popular Blogging For Business webinar at 3pm.

For details of forthcoming free webinars go to

Look out for the wildlife asks the National Trust

As the National Trust reopens many of its gardens and parks following the easing of lockdown restrictions, the conservation charity is appealing to visitors to take extra care not to disturb the wildlife that has been reclaiming the unusually empty gardens and estates.

Rare sightings and uncharacteristic behaviours have been noted by staff at the Trust, who say the absence of visitors appeared to have emboldened wildlife, with birds and mammals spotted venturing out of their usual territories and wildflowers appearing in the un-mowed lawns.

Reports from rangers and gardeners at Mount Stewart in County Down include herons spending the day undisturbed on the lake and egrets seen at the brackish marsh where usually they would be disturbed by walkers in the early morning.

Otters have also been caught on camera making more early evening appearances around the place and badger families have been spotted emerging from their setts earlier in the daytime to forage for food or simply enjoy some playtime in daylight.

At Murlough Nature Reserve rangers have noticed an increase in Ringed Plover nests on the beach shingle, likely due to a reduction in disturbance from visitors. Last year one nest was recorded and this year at least three nests have been sighted on the beach. There has also been an increase in rabbit activity during the day and, in turn, a couple of stoats have been seen, a rare sight.

This year the Trust also recorded the earliest sighting of an adult Marsh Fritillary ever in Northern Ireland (4th May), although this is more likely to down to the increase in their numbers and the good weather than anything linked to lockdown.

Plants too are taking advantage of the quiet, with delicate forest floor species like bluebells and wood anemones flourishing.  At the Giant’s Causeway, reduced footfall on the stones has allowed the Sea Pink to flourish among the iconic basalt columns.

At Crom in Fermanagh a number of species of orchids have started to appear in the grasslands that would typically get mown on a weekly basis. The complete cessation of mowing and the lack of visitors is giving them a chance to grow.

Ben McCarthy, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust, said: “Wildlife seems to be enjoying the breathing space.

“With less traffic and fewer people, we’ve heard deafening levels of birdsong and seen famous monuments and formal gardens colonised by wildlife.

“Nature’s recovery is still a long way off, but the fact that people are noticing what’s around them is something to be celebrated.

“We hope this renewed sense of value for the outdoors will continue, with people making the most of their urban and rural green spaces and supporting their local conservation projects.”

As it welcomes back visitors to its gardens, parks, countryside and coastal sites, the conservation charity is asking people to be particularly careful not to disturb wildlife that may have moved into typically busy areas.

With staff resources limited, and only essential work continuing, livestock has become an increasingly important tool for keeping the Trust’s meadows, lawns and parkland in order.

Grazing cattle have been introduced at Divis and the Black Mountain, The Giants Causeway and Bloody Bridge at the foot of Slieve Donard to keep the scrub down and allow wildflowers to blossom. While Crom in Fermanagh welcomed Shetland ponies onto the estate for the same purpose. The grazing animals have been chosen for their docile nature but are curious of people and can be spooked by dogs, so the advice for walkers is to keep you dog on a lead at all times.

Ben continues: “We would ask everyone who visits to be especially mindful of the wildlife around them.

“Over the last few weeks we’ve seen endangered birds, as well as more common wildlife, expanding their territories and nesting in places they wouldn’t normally.

“As the lockdown begins to be eased, we all need to play our part to ensure that this wildlife remains undisturbed.

“By sticking to paths, keeping dogs under control, not approaching wildlife and taking any litter home, we can ensure our places benefit both people and nature.”

Free Webinar To Help Businesses Use eBooks As A Vital Marketing Tool

A free webinar will tomorrow (Thursday, June 11) uncover the hidden potential of becoming an eBook author in boosting marketing strategies and drive business success.

Entitled Guide To Creating An eBook For Your Business this is the latest in a series of free webinars from Excalibur Press delivered by Tina Calder.

The 90-minute session will reveal the world of business eBooks, and will include tips and tricks to make your book key in driving forward campaigns and sales.

Tina explained: “When it comes to promoting your business or establishing you or your company as a thought leader in your area writing an eBook is one of the most effective ways of getting your message to your audience whilst establishing authority in your area.”

Beginning at 3pm on Thursday, there are still places available to reserve now for this unique slide/video based session as Tina shows how to make your eBook work for you.

“For many, the thought of writing a ‘book’ is daunting and often people believe it takes weeks and months to put something together,” she said. “I want to demystify some of the myths surrounding becoming an author whilst showing people some practical tips and planning structures that will help shape your eBook in record time helping you break down some of the barriers stopping you from releasing.

In this session attendees will find out how creating an eBook for their business, brand or service can help increase customer lead generation as well as sales conversions. It will look at how to plan, create and write an eBook quickly and effectively with minimal hassle.

“Using my experience as an author, journalist, corporate copywriter and ghost writer I’m going Show attendees of this webinar exactly what they need to work on to be able to release a quality eBook quickly,” Tina said.

The webinar will include explanations of exactly what an eBook is, where it fits in to marketing strategies, how to create a writing plan, how to fast forward writing, types of eBooks, what to consider before writing and planning your eBook, ways to publish it, and how to use your eBook to create leads and drive sales.

Throughout the session Tina aims to simplify the eBook creation process and give attendees real and practical tips and advice on how you can begin working on their digital content today.

A Guide To Creating An Ebook For Your Business is part of a series of weekly webinars delivered by Tina and the team at Excalibur Press. Next week will see attendees joining webinars on Supercharge Your LinkedIn With Great Content on Wednesday June 17 and Blogging For Business on Thursday June 18. 

Register for A Guide To Creating An Ebook For Your Business at

For details of forthcoming free webinars go to

Free Webinar To Help Businesses Win At Press & Publicity

How to achieve success in press and publicity activity will be unveiled in a free webinar tomorrow (Wednesday, June 10).

The latest in a series of free webinars from Excalibur Press, delivered by Tina Calder, the world of PR will be mapped out and pathways marked to achieve campaign goals.

The 90-minute video and slide session How To Win at Press and Publicity will help attendees learn how to increase their profile within their own industry and beyond.

“In this latest free webinar I will discuss what the press want and how to engage with them,” Tina explained. “It will include top tips, secrets and tools you need and how to leverage social media from the activities to save you time and money.”

Starting at 3pm on Wednesday the webinar is designed for those not in the communications industry, but is also open to those in PR, comms, marketing, content and associated industries.

“As founder or Excalibur Press I will bring my 20 years of experience in press, publicity, content creation and copywriting in Northern Ireland together with advice and insight into the local industry,” said Tina.

The free webinar will uncover how to increase your profile, what the press really want, leveraging social media, how to engage with journalists and broadcasters, creation tools to revolutionise activity as well as secrets that will save time and money.

“We’ve set aside an hour and a half for this overview webinar which will help you start thinking about what you need to do to begin connecting with the right people, we’ll also look at some of the ways you maybe haven’t thought of to get the message out there,” Tina said.

Throughout the session Tina aims to simplify the process, as well as an opportunity for questions and answers to give attendees real and practical tips and advice.

How To Win At Press & Publicity is part of a series of weekly webinars delivered by Tina and the team at Excalibur Press. On Thursday this week she will present A Guide To Creating An Ebook For Your Business whilst next week will see attendees joining webinars on Supercharge Your LinkedIn With Great Content on Wednesday June 17 and Blogging For Business on Thursday June 18. 

Register for How To Win At Press & Publicity at

For details of forthcoming free webinars go to

Growing Your Instagram Audience Without Spending A Fortune

CHIANG MAI, THAILAND – JULY 04, 2017: A man hand holding iphone with new logo of instagram application. Instagram is largest and most popular photograph social networking.

Create an Instagram account, they said. It’s the answer to all your marketing problems.

It sounds easier said than done, and it is.

Mark Ashbridge is Co-Founder of one of Belfast’s best-known coffee shops, Established Coffee (ESTD). In 2020, the business celebrated six years in business, as well as achieving over 25,000 followers on Instagram through organic growth – no ad spend required. 

But Mark didn’t build his audience over night, he and his team have worked hard to grow their following.

Mark shared his story of the company’s Instagram journey at a Lunchtime Learning session facilitated by the Cathedral Quarter BID (Business Improvement District). His talk was packed full of useful insights. 

Here are some key points from his session that could be applied to your business: 

1. You don’t need a qualification

Mark explained that you don’t have to have a marketing qualification to grow your social media following. A good eye for photography, a bit of creative flair, being organised and developing a schedule for posting, and reading up on some tips and ideas all help. 

“No one in our business has any formal qualifications in marketing, but there are skill sets within the team that lend themselves to social media. As a small business, all hands are on deck, so to grow your online presence you could make use of others’ skill sets” he explained. 

2. Don’t try to spread yourself too thin

In order to really do your digital marketing justice Mark believes you need to pick one channel, or a couple, of social media platforms that suit your product and service offering rather than spreading yourself too thin across too many platforms. 

He said: “We don’t post content without an associated image. While we have Facebook and Twitter, most of our followers are on Instagram. We’ve been in business for six years and in that time the popularity of Instagram just shot up, so that could partly explain it. Also, because we’re so image heavy on social media, Instagram works well for us. We do use Facebook events but we probably underutilise Twitter.”

3. Consistency is key

Mark explained that being consistent with image quality, aspect ratio, schedule, tone of voice is important to capture your audience.

He added: “Multiple people contribute to our social media platforms, so it’s important to us that we maintain the tone of voice. We’re usually quite direct, no frills. This can come across as a little cold, but we think our imagery conveys personality. If we wanted to do things a little differently, it might be nice to inject some personality into the post, but the way we do it allows for consistency. The purpose of our social media is to get people into the café. Once they’re there, they’ll get the full experience.

“All of the images on our main feed have a similar look and feel. The consistency in our imagery, our lighting, the slight filter that we use – for us, it’s important to create a cohesive look. When customers take their own pictures and tag us in them, we share those to our stories. This helps us to maintain consistency on the main feed, but also lets followers see another point of view and acknowledges for the customer that we have seen their post and appreciate it.

“New dishes are posted on a Friday on our main feed as a finished dish with a full-length description of the ingredients, but our kitchen put a lot of work into new dishes and some of them could have up to eight elements. They thought it would be a good idea to showcase the ingredients and the work that goes into it, so we “build the dish” through Instagram stories to show the dish being plated up. This also acts as a look behind the scenes.

“Our menu is also saved as a story highlight. It is quite small, but we have a title page before it that instructs people to screenshot the menu so they can pinch and zoom. We’ve found simple things like this save us a lot of time in answering the same questions that people would usually have messaged us with, whereas now all of the information is there.” 

4. Be Deliberate – find your voice

Part of Mark and the team’s strategy is to be authentic and engaging with their content but he says there’s “no ‘right way’ to do Instagram”.

Mark added: “It’s whatever works best for you and your customers. Unlike our approach, @hollybellycafe in France offer a real behind the scenes look at running a café, with the owners sharing a lot about their own lives. @3fcoffee in Dublin shares a wide variety of content and their main feed is quite eclectic in style. Multiple personalities are showcased to represent the different aspects of the business. @siopshop are based in Manchester and they have a unique and deadpan sense of humour that comes across on their Instagram. Not for everyone, but I find it hilarious.”

5. Be Genuine – tell your story

Mark wanted to ensure that what they showed people on their Instagram feed would meet their expectations when they come into the cafe.

He said: “For us, it’s important to match peoples’ expectations. When people see our Instagram and then visit the café, we want their expectations to be met. Be careful of overusing filters or Photoshop to showcase a product in a way that won’t match expectations. With Instagram, you eat with your eyes. Although we’re a coffee shop, we showcase the food. There are only so many ways you can be creative with a cup of coffee.

“When Game of Thrones was being filmed here, Kit Harington came in and he did a post we have called ‘All Of Us’ where we showcase different people like customers and suppliers. That generated a lot of attention.

“We don’t follow any ‘rules’ for the algorithm. We don’t want to be a slave to it, we just do what works for us. We want to use Instagram as a tool to help our business. Some customers will come in and show us a picture we’ve put on Instagram and just say ‘can I have that please?’ 

“Over the last six years our Instagram following has grown and over the last six years our business has grown. It’s hard to quantify what Instagram has done for our business, but we do know that it has contributed to our growth and marketing on Instagram for us, works.”

Check out Mark’s full Lunchtime Learning on the Cathedral Quarter website:

To see more Lunchtime Learning sessions go to: 

12 Cool Gifts For The Sustainable Man On Fathers Day

Father’s Day is fast approaching. And for many people the Covid-19 situation has meant they haven’t seen their dads for the best part of the last three months. 

Or, in other cases, some dads have seen a lot more of their children than usual.

Mary-Lou Fellowes, co-founder at eco-friendly marketplace Loolyn, said: “It’s been difficult for many people to find that perfect gift during the Covid-19 crisis, especially those with fathers who care about the planet.

“In normal circumstances, a day out, restaurant meal or a family get together would suffice, but this year Father’s Day presents mean more than ever.

“We want to show our loved ones that they’re special, that we miss them and that we care for them, a well thought out gift can do exactly that.”

Loolyn is a marketplace website that brings together some of the best eco-friendly, vegan, sustainable products that contain no plastic from across the UK.

Co Founder Lynsey Rebbeck added: “Just because we’re in a global crisis doesn’t mean we should throw out our sustainable mindset and buy presents just for the sake of them.

“Now, more than ever before, it’s important to stay true to your ethical values.”

Here are 12 cool sustainable gifts for your dad this Father’s Day:


1. VLeather Lunch Bag, £15

Whether you are back to work or packing up your lunch to take it into the garden, these ‘vegan leather’ bags (aka washable paper) are stylish and perfect to keep your sandwiches fresh until lunch. 

These handmade, washable paper bags are from a mixture of wood pulp, cotton and synthetic latex, you can even put these in your washing machine.

2. Reusable Insulated Coffee Cup£16.99

A great little addition to the vleather bag, these 340ml insulated coffee (or tea) cups will keep drinks hot – or cold if you prefer. 

Made from a high quality double walled stainless steel construction meaning they will ensure the long lasting and freshest flavour of every drink with no metallic after taste. 

Black steel is one of the most popular colours but customers can choose from a range or colours.

3. Ballyneal Mug in Granite, £20

If you’re looking for something to keep at home instead of taking coffee on the go, you can’t go past the iconic Ballyneal mug.

With a gently curved, solid body and large, pulled curved handle this mug suits all sizes of hands and has a lovely weight to it. Fill it with his favourite sweeties and he will be in for a nice surprise.

Eco Friendly Skin Care

4. Botanic Man Balm Moisturiser, £10

This award winning moisturiser is perfect for the man who just wants one thing to do all jobs and leave the counter clutter free. 

Tackling beards, face, body, hair, feet and hands. This ‘ALL-IN-ONE MAN BALM’ is a great way to benefit from the healing qualities of herbs and botanicals.

5. Energising Eye Gel, £19.99

All that screen time and zoom calls take their toll on your eyes, often leaving them feeling tired and sore. This energising eye gel comes in a full compostable bamboo pot. It instantly brightens and hydrates the skin below the eye, reducing the fatigued-look and giving an awakening sensation. 

6. Beer and Bay Soapnut Soap Shampoo, £6

Keeping on the energising thought path, this multi purpose hair-face-body solid shampoo bar gives Head and Shoulders a run for its money when clearing dandruff or caring for a dry, flaky scalp.  It also makes a great shaving bar too. Also available in a pack of 5 for £27.

7. Hand Salve (or ‘Paw Chutney’)£14

All that gardening and DIY dads have been indulging in over the past three months can take its toll on hard working hands. Whether you’re a gardener pulling out roses with your bare hands or a climber that skinned their fingers hanging off an epic overhang (totally possible) this hand salve will promote the healing of the skin and get you back on your A-game quickly.

Sustainable Shaving

8. Modern Double Edged Safety Razor, £25.95

These razors look luxurious and are weighted and angled to ensure a perfect shave every time. Just pop in a blade and let the razor do the work for you. Delivered in a cool presentation box they are available in Gun Metal, Black and Chrome. The plastic free razor includes a pack of 5 blades.

9. Double Edged Safety Razor Set and Stand, £120

If your dad is already convinced the life long razor is the way to go, why not get them a full set of brush, razor and stand. A piece of art in your bathroom. This will definitely ensure they will never reach for your razor by accident again.

Gift Sets

10. Skin Care Gift Box£25

A great combo of natural deodorant, lip care and the aforementioned man balm make this a really thoughtful and interesting gift box without a sock in sight.

11. Beard Oil and Beard Balm£26

This Beard Bundle contains both a beard oil and beard balm. The beard oil softens and repairs the beard. The balm nourishes and styles. 100% natural, vegan products which come as a result of years of experimentation by a dedicated team of bearded men.

12. The Ultimate Gentlemen’s Pack, £50

The Ultimate Gentlemen’s Pack consists of pieces beautifully handcrafted from recycled Irish whiskey barrels. They have been carved from a recycled Irish whiskey barrel stave with beautifully rounded edges, sanded to a silky smooth finish and polished with handmade Irish organic linseed wood polish. Consists of a hipflask, tie clip, bottle opener, ice blocks and cufflinks.

Grab your dad a sustainable, eco-friendly, plastic free gift this Father’s Day at