Ahead of our Young Businesswomen’s Forum this Thursday at The Westbury Hotel, we decided to catch up with the Irish designer to hear more about her.
At what point did you discover your passion for design?
I have always loved making things from when I was really young dressing my dolls etc. So when I was in school I was involved with costumes for school plays and took part in lots of art competitions. I did a course after my leaving cert to prepare my portfolio for art college and loved spending all my time on just designing and making. I entered what was The Nokia Young Designer competition and reached the finals. I just loved seeing my designs coming out on the catwalk and feeling the buzz and sense of achievement. From there I started studying fashion at the National College of Art and Design and here I am still designing!
How did you break into such a competitive industry and come out on top?
I launched a very small selection of dresses and just worked my way up from there step by step! Listening to customers, what they liked and most importantly what they didn’t like! Learning how to deal with retailers, suppliers, factories and the press. I learnt a lot of things the hard way but as long as I was going in the right direction and taking another step forward at the end of each season I knew I was on to something and that kept me going! Winning Best Dressed at Punchestown in 2010 was great timing as I had just opened my own boutique a few weeks prior to it so that helped put my boutique on the map! Lastly, surrounding myself with a great team that work with me every day and help me achieve all the business goals I come up with.
What words would you use to describe your latest collection?
‘Elegance with a twist’ is my motto and this seasons collection is certainly elegant, feminine, clean lines, modern chic and colourful.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere really but I usually start with the fabric and love draping fabric on the mannequin to see how it falls. I am a very tactile designer.
What has been your career peak to date?
Opening my boutique was a very proud moment as it was important for me to have a professional environment to invite customers to shop in and allowed me my own space to create the kind of environment I wanted my customers to experience when they visited us. I have won some exciting business awards too which I never really dreamed of as going to art college business was not really on the cards.
What’s next for the brand?
Last week I just launched my new online City Look collection for the fashion conscious savvy working women so I am hoping to grow this business model and start exporting too.
Hear Heidi and fellow panellists Jennifer Rock and Sinead Cassidy talk about their working life at our IMAGE Young Businesswomen’s Forum.