In this week's Meet the Maker, Grace Hanna talks to Niamh McCarthy of Niamh Designs Embroidery about her handcrafted bridal jackets.
When did you set up your business and why?
After completing my fashion and textiles degree in university, I worked for a year and a half in marketing and administration.
I'm a really creative person who loves fashion, but I couldn't actually find a job that I could express myself creatively in.
I then decided I had no other option but to set up my own embroidery business. Now, I employ two girls full-time to be able to give others the chance to have a full-time creative job.
Can you explain your creative process?
My creative process is very much led by the market. As a lot of my work is bespoke, people come to me and will say 'I want a particular phrase or imagery embroidered on a jacket'.
Being active on social media platforms is also really important to promote my work.
Usually, if I get a lot of likes and comments, I know I'm on to a winner and if something doesn't lift, I won't push it.
I would say for me right now, it's 50% art and 50% business, because if you want to stay creative in business you need to know a bit about it.
What inspires you?
Fashion in general is what inspires me. I have always loved fashion, so every day I'm inspired seeing different trends and how other designers work with materials and threads.
I get a lot of my inspiration from Pinterest, but trial and error is where I learn what works.
Experimentation is really important for my business, trying out new things and testing different mediums is key for inspiration.
We make stuff all the time and sometimes some of it never sees the light of day. I don't see those as failures though, you always have to keep experimenting.
What are your best sellers?
My current best seller is my 'celestial till death jacket' and number two is my 'to the moon and back' jacket.
These jackets are perfect for the bride who wants to be a bit alternative and different on her wedding day. The jackets are slightly rock and roll with a mixture of gothic and western.
We sell these jackets from a UK 8 to a UK 24 in two colours - black and ecru which is an off-white shade.
On all of my jackets you can get your wedding dates, initials and under the collar embroidered.
I like to make them really personal and special for one of the most important days of your life.
What has been your highlight of 2023 and what are you looking forward to in 2024?
Thankfully, 2023 was an extremely memorable year for my small business. I actually had the opportunity to design a jacket for Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker's baby.
It came about when someone contacted me from LA who was attending their baby shower and wanted to gift them the jacket.
After receiving the message on Sunday, I had to have it designed, embroidered and shipped to America all in one week.
In March of 2023, I also won Northern Ireland's business woman of the year which was really special for me and a recognition of all of my hard work. I'm looking forward to the business opportunities that 2024 will bring for me and my team.
What advice would you give to another start up?
For advice, you are never too young to start a business. You also don't have to jump right in.
Start small, learn a few skills and build them up.
I actually started off when I was in university selling my old clothes on Vinted and Depop, which is a really easy place to start. You can learn a lot from selling your old clothes, it is really simple and achievable.
You learn how to take pictures, write titles and how to improve your customer reviews and most importantly how to ship on time.
Essentially, what I do now is just Depop and Vinted on a much higher scale. So start small, build on what works and if it doesn't work keep trying.