Former Our Lady's student on invite list to listen to Joe Biden address at UU

Former Our Lady's student on invite list to listen to Joe Biden address at UU

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AMONGST the many thousands who listened to the address delivered by the U.S president at Ulster University, very few were afforded the opportunity to absorb the inspiring words used by this masterful orator live, however former Our Lady’ s student Niamh McCarthy was one of the privileged few.

Niamh, who amongst her many accolades is a past pupil of Our Lady’s Grammar School , an alumni of Ulster University and perhaps most impressive of all the proprietor of her own self-founded fashion embroidery business Niamh's Designs, was one of the enviable group of people who received a personal invite to listen first hand to the address president Joe Biden recently delivered at Ulster Universities Belfast campus.

After having only began to realise her entrepreneurial endeavours four years ago in 2019, Niamh's ambitions as a fashion designer have already seen her develop Niamh's Designs into a market leader in the world of Leather Jacket embroidery with the intrepid businesswomen now shipping 90% of her products to the USA.

It is due to the remarkable level of success experienced as an independent businesswoman that in March of this year Niamh became a recipient of the prestigious N.I Young Business Woman of the Year Award, a fact which may have had a hand to play in her receiving an invite to listen to Mr Biden deliver his address at UU in which the president emphasised the importance that young entrepreneurs such as herself play in developing and sustaining the economy prosperity of a nation.

Market Leader

“I am a past pupil of Our Lady’s Grammar School where I was Deputy Head Girl. There is a fantastic art department in Our Lady's. I left Our Lady’s in 2013 where I then went on to study fashion and textile design at Ulster University. I graduated from the course in 2018 with first class honours.

“After I graduated, I went to work with Ulster Camogie for a few months as a marketing intern and then when I was 24, I decided that I wanted to run my own business, knowing that if I didn't start it now I was never going to do it. I started the business in 2019, four years ago. Fast forward to now and Niamh's Designs is the market leader for embroidered leather jackets in the world.

“We sell the jackets on ETSY, Not on the High Street and on my own website Niamh's Designs. We have over 10'000 followers on social media and we have grown 100% year on year since having started the business four years ago despite Covid and Brexit.

“However, one element of the business that I am really proud of is the fact that 90% of the products that we produce are exported to the USA. I can ship from Northern Ireland to America with such ease, so I just hope that Trans-Atlantic trade can remain so seamless.

“At the start of the March I won the N.I Young business women of the year at the young business awards for 2023.”


Invite of a lifetime

It is no doubt owing to the remarkable level of success that Niamh has experienced in running her own private enterprise for the past four years which played an integral role in ensuring that her name was enshrined on to the invite list for President Biden’s visit to UU affording her an opportunity to come along and hear the president speak about the importance of young entrepreneurs such as herself first hand. Indeed such an experience is one that Niamh herself describes as being “unbelievable”

“The experience of hearing the president address the audience at Ulster University was absolutely brilliant. Unbelievable is probably the only term to describe it.

“I got an email on Friday April 7 telling me that I was invited and I really couldn't believe the fact that I had received the email and I didn't even know if it was real. All the details regarding the event were sent through on Tuesday April 11. I drove to Belfast on the Wednesday morning. The streets were actually rather quiet and it didn't take us that long to get down to the Ulster University Campus but once we got down their there were police everywhere, everywhere was cordoned off. We kept being stopped by the police who asked us where it is we were going and I said that I was going to meet him. There weren't that many people about and we just felt so special.

“We got in to Ulster University where we each received different coloured wristbands. There were four different colours and each colour designated where you would be and I was on the second level. There was then a tea and coffee reception before we went into the auditorium.

“There were so many famous people and these kinds of events are a good time to network. I meet Roseann Kelly who is the CEO of women in business N.I. She introduced me to the head of the chamber of commerce. I was also speaking to the head of invest N.I, these were some wonderful connections to make. We then got into the auditorium and there were five speakers in total.

“Then President Biden came out and it was just so surreal to not only hear him speak, but also speak about entrepreneurship and how young people and entrepreneurs need to be celebrated, encouraged and supported more. This was unbelievable because this is everything I have always talked about because it is the truth. “Entrepreneurship is the life blood of the economy and entrepreneurs need to be celebrated and supported more. All of the economy's growth comes from entrepreneurs setting things up whether this is a big company that was set up 100 years ago or a small business like mine, it was a really wonderful experience. President Biden was charismatic and I thought the address was absolutely brilliant.”

U.S Special Envoy to Northern Ireland

Also present at the audience that Ulster University held for President Biden wasJoe Kennedy III, U.S special Envoy to Northern Ireland and grand nephew of the one and only John Fitzgerarld Kennedy 35th president of the United States of America who Niamh was also afforded the privilege of having a photogragh taken with.

“I also thought the address given by Joe Kennedy was absolutely inspiring as well. Joe Kennedy is the U.S Special Envoy for Northern Ireland and his focus was on growing businesses in Northern Ireland and America. Whilst I was only able to listen to President Biden’s speech I did manage to get a picture with Joe Kennedy.

“Both President Biden and Joe Kennedy seem to be so passionate about us, your history is our history as they kept saying.

“Then seeing the comments on social media afterwards it gave me such a lift and it was really, really inspiring to hear. I meet Kate Middleton a few years ago but I don't think hearing the President deliver this address will ever be topped.

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