From Lurgan to LA: Meet the NI woman who designed a custom baby jacket for Kourtney Kardashian
Lurgan woman’s business given a huge boost after order sent to US reality television superstar
Niamh McCarthy (29) started her fashion career as a teenager selling old clothes — now the Lurgan woman has designed a jacket for the latest Kardashian offspring. Niamh Designs makes embroidered jackets, specialising in vegan faux leather and denim.
One of the biggest moments in Niamh’s career came last September when she received a message asking her to design a bespoke jacket for Kourtney Kardashian’s baby shower.
The reality star later gave birth to Rocky, her first child with husband Travis Barker, drummer with Blink-182.
Niamh, who graduated in fashion and textile design from Ulster University in 2017, worked for a year in marketing before striking out on her own.
She said: “I was 24 and said to myself I really wanted to be my own boss. “At the start I just did embroidered family trees and crests.
“A woman asked me to make an embroidered kid’s leather jacket.
“At first I didn’t really know what to do and I was at a bit of a loss.
“But when she received the jacket she was delighted and sent me pictures, which I shared on Instagram and Facebook and I received an amazing response.”
An unusual request led to another success. She explained: “Someone was getting married and wanted a leather jacket for her wedding.
“I had never heard of wearing a leather jacket on your wedding day before, so I was just amazed. This was in 2019. I was blown away when I saw her wedding pictures.
“That was it then, that was the product, and when I advertised on Etsy I quickly became the leader in that.
“Etsy is so big in America, particularly in California.”
It’s “very tough and technical” to embroider a leather jacket, and Niamh, who has two employees, said no one really teaches the skill, so she and her staff have their own secrets.
This served her business well when she woke up to a message one Monday morning asking for a special jacket to be delivered to Los Angeles by Friday for the Kardashian baby shower.
She added: “I said I could do it — without knowing whether I could actually do it. “It was all systems go. First of all we designed it, embroidered it and packaged it within two days. It was posted from Lurgan to LA on the express service.”
Niamh has now made a major investment in stock to provide more inclusive sizing, and creates around 30 jackets weekly.
Most of her orders come from the United States.
“In 2022/23 we posted to every state in the US. The last state we posted to was New Mexico.
“It is a niche market, and we’re very popular in Florida, which is surprising because it’s so hot.”
She was named young businesswoman of the year at 2023’s Women in Business Awards.
“That was the greatest achievement of my life,” she said. “It’s so nice when you’ve gained momentum; the other people I was up against were amazing women with great businesses. “To win that award you have to be under 30. That was always my goal, to apply for that before I was 30.
“I’m 29 now, and had always been impressed with other women who won that award.”
She attended the ceremony with her family, including her dad, who has a bespoke furniture business and has always been a “great sounding board”.
Running a business is not without its difficulties.
She explained: “In a post-Covid and post-Brexit world, materials are more expensive, minimum wage has gone up, and will go up again. It hasn’t gotten easier yet, but I do love it.”
Her advice to young people starting out? “If I knew more, I might not have started the business,” she added.
“When I was in university I used to sell clothes online on eBay, Depop and Vinted, you can learn a lot by doing that, whether you’re 16 and looking for pocket money or in university.
“You’re learning so much — writing descriptions, postage, packaging. “I essentially do Vinted now, but on a far bigger scale.”
And she always has the support of fiancé Alan, who works for eBay.
“He loves eBay and always has, we are quite e-commerce-focused that way,” she said.
While she’s not sure yet when her marriage will take place, Niamh is certain of one thing.
“I’ll definitely wear one of my jackets on my wedding day,” she laughed.