#ShopIrish: Alex D'Paula designs for self-expression using garments that are made to last

Supporting Irish business is a passion of ours at Image, and it's easy with so many entrepreneurial and innovative Irish businesses to buy from. From now until Christmas we are highlighting Irish businesses or businesspeople that we are excited about. Today it's designer Alex D'Paula

What is your name, and what is your business? Alex D'Paula - Clothing & fashion accessories

How long have you been in business? And what was your mission from the outset?

I've been part of the fashion industry since 2009 mostly working for other designers and driving creative projects under my own brand. I set up my online store in August this year. Just like other Irish businesses, I feel like the pandemic and the current climate has really put things into perspective and inspired me to go on my own and do what I love. My mission is to empower individuals to responsibly exercise self-expression through fashion, fabric and garments that are made to last. Since the very beginning, the core of my design ethos has always been about making clothes that have meaning and that are made to last. Every piece has a primary focus on design, functionality and expression. As a brand, I’ve always favoured timeless styles over passing trends. My designs are recognised by the use of natural fibres and materials that endure. I want people of all colours, genders and sizes to be wearing my clothes years and years from now.

Of what part of your business are you most proud? 

Making bespoke pieces for people that, for any reason, couldn't find what they were looking for. There is something very powerful about designing and making something special for someone. Clothes can indeed change people's behaviour and attitude towards themselves and others. You can literally see them light up and transform. This direct relationship between the designer and the consumer is quite incredible!

Who are your business heroes? Personal heroes?

Women in business and all designers that truly care about human equity, sustainability and quality. A couple of names that come to mind are Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher and Everlane.

How have you found the last six months? - professionally and personally

I have to confess, I struggled. My family is far away, I don't know when I will be able to see them again. Work has taken over, things are constantly changing and life isn't remotely what it was or what it's "supposed" to be. All of this brought me back to myself, taught me to be kinder to myself and others and showed me the true value of interpersonal relationships. We aren't whole without one another. It isn’t easy, it’s overwhelming yet very humbling.

On the other hand, professionally, it lit a fire under me to understand what I really care about, invest and go for it. I have found a community of many other like minded Irish entrepreneurs and we have been supporting each other, figuring things out as we go along. It's amazing to see we all need a sanity check from time to time!

What keeps you positive?

During these uncertain times, mental health is very important. Finding something that motivates you to wake up in the morning and get out of bed is essential. Find a hobby or something that excites you. If you haven't found one just yet, that's ok too. Have fun trying!

Being creative is what works for me. Drawing, painting, designing, sewing, thinking about what's next and how to make it more ethical and sustainable. Oh and and antigravity/suspension yoga... I'm obsessed! It's fun, it's definitely a workout but also my daily assigned time to get in touch with myself, listen to my body and calm my mind.

What new perspective (if any) have you gained from 2020?

That life can be quite simple. It's about going back to basics! I'm evaluating what truly matters to me but also to the people around me. Family, friendships, health, fulfilment... everything else is noise and I'm learning to cut through it.

Best/worst moment from 2020? The worst moment was definitely when WHO officially declared a public health emergency of international concern and thereafter to watch the world struggle to stay alive. The best was seeing people raise up and support each other, through the smallest and biggest gestures whether through fundraisings, shopping locally or just offering to do the shopping to your neighbours at risk.

How will you celebrate the holidays this year?

Even though I can't see my immediate family, I look forward to being able to spend time with my friends & family in Ireland. I can't wait to be able to drive down to the country and spend time with my in-laws, nieces and see their joyful faces opening their Christmas gifts from Santa or otherwise.

Another Irish business you want to shine a spotlight on?  There are so many, but I would like to mention Made Obvious, Lou's Lot Shop, and Faerly. I love the work they are doing!

Anything else you would like to let us know?  Just that I'm truly thankful for all the support I've been receiving from consumers to fellow businesses. It's so great to know people believe in you! This country and people are truly amazing and it's a privilege for me to have been welcomed here 10 years ago as one of your own and have my label and business set up here and look forward to continuing to grow my Irish business.

You can find Alex on alexdpaula.com and on Instagram @alexdpaula.clothing


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