FRANCES Siefert is the owner of Ballyhugh Irish Imports in Audubon, New Jersey, a family-run retailer of Irish goods that sells jewellery, knitwear, apparel, food, music and gifts. The company, started by Siefert’s mother Clare McHugh, has been in business for 27 years.
Siefert, a native of New Jersey, earned a BS in business, finance and economics from Mount Saint Mary’s University. She is also an accredited jewelry professional.
All of Siefert’s great grandparents were born in Ireland, and she traces her roots to counties Tyrone and Mayo.
She travels to Ireland frequently for her job. “I have traveled around the country and have visited every county. I believe the only place left for me to visit is the Aran Islands,” she says.
“I would not have the business I have were it not for the love of my heritage. I am so proud to promote Ireland every day to my customers.
“The craftsmanship in Ireland is of great quality. To be able to explain this, and tell the story behind the items I sell to customers is invaluable. Irish culture is so rich in history and I try to impart that to every customer.
“The Irish people are lovely and I have established many good friendships over the years through my business contacts. I used to find it funny when I first attended trade shows with my mother, how the Irish vendors would talk and catch up on our personal lives, fill us in on theirs, and then it was time to get down to business! Now I look forward to that.”
Siefert is the president of the North American Celtic Trade Association, and focuses on finding ways to help shops in North America sell more Irish products.
She and her husband have three children.
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