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New business aim to raise awareness of mental health

THE outgoing president of Strabane Chamber of Commerce has launched a new business inspired by ‘his bad days’ in the hope of raising mental health awareness.

Strabane man Martin Gallen recently unveiled his new accessory business ‘Black Dog’ after he began making leather bracelets to help his mental health.

After a shock diagnosis of Bipolar Depression, Martin found the best method of coping was to keep busy. Martin who has worked as a uilleann pipes maker since 2011, began making bracelets from bits and pieces of offcuts and scraps from his work.

Over ‘many bad days’ Martin found he built up a lot of stock, and he decided to sell off the products, while also raising awareness of mental health issues, and helping others who may be struggling.

His wife and daughter then got involved in the project, and just before Christmas, Martin launched his new business Black Dog.
Black Dog is a male accessory business featuring leather bracelets, lava stone bead bracelets and fashion items. The business has proven popular among local people with 10 per-cent of the profits going towards mental health awareness causes.

Martin hopes that his new venture will help others learn to understand this very important issue.

He explained, “Ten per-cent of the profits are going to mental health causes because I suffer from mental health issues myself. It is a cause that I hold very close to my heart.

“A lot of men do not pay a lot of attention to their mental health and if any awareness can be raised, that is a good thing. If you can help one person, that is a bonus. I will be developing a website now when I get a bit more time.”

Martin stood down from his position as president of Strabane Chamber of Commerce in the hope of concentrating on his new business.

“I launched the new business before Christmas and I am looking at a third business,” he explained. “It is going quite well at the minute and I have various plans and ventures in mind. It is men’s accessories, leather materials and items.

“With my wife and daughter involved it is a great way to ensure we get to spend time together with all our lives being so busy, it really is the best form of treatment for this condition.”

Black Dog items are currently available in the Pagoda gift shop, the Alley gift shop and The Label and can also be purchased online at Black Dog on Facebook.

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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