5 inspiring self-help books that will change your life
5 inspiring self-help books that will change your life

Jennifer McShane

Changing the script: Claire Mooney and Nell Hensey of Pure Divilment Pictures
Changing the script: Claire Mooney and Nell Hensey of Pure Divilment Pictures

Meg Walker

Four expert-approved ways to pay less tax
Four expert-approved ways to pay less tax

Nick Charalambous

This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of family life
This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of...

IMAGE Interiors & Living

Crossing: Director Levan Akin on his new film, patriarchy and the importance of family
Crossing: Director Levan Akin on his new film, patriarchy and the importance of family

Sarah Finnan

Weekend Guide: Festivals, exhibitions, and more great events
Weekend Guide: Festivals, exhibitions, and more great events

Sarah Gill

IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands
IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands

Edaein OConnell

Inside the former tram ticketing office on the market for €680,000
Inside the former tram ticketing office on the market for €680,000

Sarah Finnan

The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene
The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene

Oyindamola Animashaun

Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods
Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods

Sarah Gill

Image / Style / Irish Design

Irish Design Spotlight: Tidings


By Niamh Gillespie
29th Oct 2023
Irish Design Spotlight: Tidings

After years working as a print designer in London, Niamh Gillespie decided to move home to her native Louth and start her own business. In 2020, she launched Tidings, a brand inspired by the Irish coast. Here she tells us more about her gorgeous silk scarves and designs.

Tell us about you and your brand
Following 15 years working in London as a print designer for Paul Smith, Liberty, Alexander McQueen and Topshop, I decided to move back to Ireland for a better work/ life balance. I now live along the coast in Co.Louth with my husband Hamish and two daughters Freya and Margot, our dog Tipsy and Cat Stella. 

I launched Tidings in 2020. The idea for the brand came around after I found a message in a bottle on my local beach. I was inspired to create products with messages of fun and positivity. 

Tidings is a luxury accessories brand and is now stocked in high-end stores both in Ireland and internationally. All the designs are hand-painted by me before being sent to Italy to be printed and made on the finest silks. My new collection is proudly made in Ireland. 

What is your mission?
My mission is to create timeless, considered pieces which stand out from the crowd. 

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a creative. My mum was an artist and dressmaker, so she has always been my driving force. I sadly lost my mum Jean to cancer in 2012 but she always inspires me to paint and draw with my daughters who are also very creative. 

I was very lucky to have an incredible art teacher, Priscilla Gorman at Bailieborough Community School, who encouraged me to apply to NCAD. I got accepted and explored different areas of art and design in the core year. After trying printed textiles, I fell in love and specialised in that for 3 years. 

When I graduated, I moved to London to work for a print design studio called Circle-Line Design, I learned so much there which then enabled me to work for larger fashion houses.

What kind of items do you stock?
My most recent collection is my “Elemental Collection”, a range of lustrous padded silk snugs all made in Ireland. They have been so well received especially over in New York for the Accessories Tradeshow Coterie. I’m excited to be stocking stores in New York, Pennsylvania, California and more. 

My core collection includes 100% silk scarves varying in scale from large statement scarves to pocket squares/ neckerchiefs for men and narrow silk twilly scarves along with silk/modal mixes and double-sided silk wool. Aside from that, I also stock silk sleepwear which has huge benefits to skin and hair. I cannot go anywhere without mine. I even take them to festivals! 

What new brands or items are on your radar?
I am currently working on some amazing collaborations with both Irish and international brands. 

Since setting up my own brand in 2020 I forgot how much I  missed working in a design team. Doing collaborations with other artists excites me so much, I love a good brainstorm with other designers.

For me, good design has to take time. You have to stand away from it , go back to it, think about how it can be improved, ask why it is different to everything else out there. What is the unique selling point? Why put something out there that’s already there? Good design needs thought and sometimes takes weeks, months, years to create. 

Was money/funding a concern when starting out?
When I launched Tidings I was selling a lot of my art prints and still freelancing for companies like Liberty and Alexander McQueen, so that was a huge help. I was also very lucky to have the support of my local Enterprise Board in Co.Louth. Their funding enabled me to do international tradeshows.  My husband, Hamish, is also so supportive and has been there through thick and thin – he looks after all the finances. 

Best business advice you’ve gotten
To do one thing and to do it well. As a creative person I am constantly wanting to design new things but I’ve grown to realise that if you have a good product then the aim is to show this to stores and get it out there.  I am very lucky to have my husband who works in finance, he is a partner in the business and I wouldn’t be where I am now without his help and guidance. 

Favourite fashion/design accounts you follow
Oh god there are so many but off the top of my head, the accounts that I love to follow are

  1. @roisinlaffertykld: I love her interior designs, the colours and textures she uses.
  2. @ash.Mcdonnell: Ashley has also been so supportive of the brand since launching.
  3. Love @casablancabrand 
  4. Glassette/ Laura Jackson 

Best fashion purchase
I think my most loved piece is my vintage Lanvin silk shirt which I bought in a vintage shop in Kent. It’s the most amazing shape, colour, texture. I love it. Also, my wedding dress which was also vintage. It cost me £520 and was the most perfect dress. And of course my Manolo Blanhik wedding shoes which I found at their exhibition in Liberty. They were the last pair, emerald green with gold trim – I adore them. My mum sewed an emerald green silk belt into my dress so it all sat together beautifully. 

My most recent purchase was my good friend Cleo Pricketts’s denim respect jumpsuit. It goes with everything. It’s cool, contemporary and so comfy, you can dress it up or down. Cleo’s pieces are so unique and edgy. 

Other Irish brands you love
ORIOR Furniture, Cleo Prickett, Ilk, Kindred of Ireland, Lia Cowan, The Landskein, Aoife Lifestyle, Una Burke, McCaul Goldsmiths – there’s so much talent here in Ireland, and that’s just design; there are also so many food/drink brands that I love but I’d need a whole page!

Most useful learning since setting up a business
Know who your customer is. It’s so much easier to design a collection if you have your target customer in mind. Grow your brand slowly, you need so many heads running your own brand so it’s best to take your time. You’re going to make mistakes and have ups and downs but that’s all part of it. 

Proudest moment so far
I have won a few awards over the last two years which I am so grateful for but I think my proudest moment so far is to see my brand in Fortnum and Masons in London. I lived in London for 15 years and loved visiting F&M’s so to see my brand there was definitely a pinch-me moment. 

I want my brand to be remembered for… beautifully designed, timeless pieces that stand the test of time. 

If I could have anyone wear my designs it would be… I would love to see Roisin Murphy wearing my new collection, I love her style so much. 

Imagery provided by Niamh Gillespie