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Image / Style / Sustainable Style

Sustainable Style Spotlight: Cayo


By Orla Daly
29th Jan 2023
Sustainable Style Spotlight: Cayo

Limerick businesswoman Orla Daly always had a grá for fashion, spending most summers working in her cousin’s hat shop in Terenure, and later studyign dressmaking at the prestigious Prangsta Costumiers in London. Falling in love with alpaca wool on a trip to Peru back in 2018, it’s then that the idea for her own business was sparked and thus, Cayo was born.

Tell us about you and your business
I always had it in the back of my head that I would love to create a niche clothing line if I came across an idea that I thought was worth pursuing. Having a long-lasting product, made in a considered way was essential for me. After a trip to South America and discovering Alpaca wool, I started looking into this wool more and wondered why it was not more widely available as it is a lot more sustainable to keep Alpacas than lots of other animals that yield luxury yarns such as Angora rabbits or Cashmere and Mohair goats.

The yarn itself also has many characteristics which make it a more sustainable option – to name a few; it has microscopic air pockets which allow ventilation, thereby making it a sweater you will use all year round, it doesn’t retain odours so requires less washing and is very hard-wearing. Creating contemporary designs with soft, luxurious Alpaca wool made total sense and so Cayo was born!

What is your mission?
To create products people can enjoy for years to come and feel good about buying. We believe luxury doesn’t have to harm the planet and we commit to always being accountable and transparent.

Did you always want to work in fashion?
Yes, definitely! When I was in school I got a sewing machine as a present when I finished the Junior Cert and even gave making my debs dress a go. When I was in Transition Year, I was a finalist in the Form and Fusion competition where you had to create an outfit out of recycled materials so the interest has always been there. I worked in fashion retail throughout college. In more recent years, I started a fashion blog and started contributing to the Limerick Leader and Live 95fm for their fashion segments. When I came across premium alpaca wool in Peru and discovered its unique qualities, I knew I had to bring this to Europe in a contemporary way so I started looking into spinners and knitters.

What kind of items do you stock?
At the moment, we have two styles of sweaters in various colours and patterns but watch this space, we are working on new products!

What new brands or items are on your radar?
I have my eye on a few new materials that are sustainable options, which I might eventually incorporate into my clothing line or into tags and labels.

Was money/funding a concern when starting out?
When starting out a business, especially a premium brand, budget will always be a challenge, but my project management background has definitely helped. For me, spending on getting the best quality product was paramount, not the ‘fluff’ around it.

Best business advice you’ve gotten?
I have leaned into my strengths and my experience when deciding what I would do myself, and what I would hire people to help with. I got a retail coach on board and I am delighted I did as I now know what to expect in meetings with my wholesalers.

Favourite sustainable style accounts to follow online
Roz Purcell – she shares sustainable brands across a range of items from fashion, to homewares and beauty and gives them a platform. She showcases products you might not otherwise have come across. I also like following Lydia Tomlinson as she invests in key wardrobe staples and restyles them in lots of ways. Another account I like to follow is Sarah Hanrahan, she is a bit different to the typical influencer as you won’t see hauls with lots of new items from fast fashion brands. She invests in good pieces and loves a charity shop find too.

Best fashion purchase
A black, masculine-fit, straight-cut coat. It elevates any outfit. I wear it with leggings, a sweater and a peaked cap, a dress on a night out, jeans and a sweater or leather look jeans, my favourite boots and a cosy knit. It is the most versatile piece I own.

Other sustainable Irish brands you love
There are lots! I recently came across a company called Vico, they make deodorant with natural ingredients and biodegradable packaging. I am loving Voya, they make certified organic home and body products. Millbee are another great Irish brand, they make beeswax wraps for storing food as well as other sustainable homeware products. As a new mum, I recently received a gift of a pre-made food box from a company called Eatto. The food was lovely and I loved the fact that they used all biodegradable and recyclable materials for the packaging – for example, they use wool cool lining to keep the food chilled.

Most useful learning since setting up a business
Don’t worry about what others think of you – it’s none of your business! I think fear of what other people think can hold people back from fulfilling their dreams, but I say go for it, life is short. I’ve learned that the energy that goes into the business is very important. All the decisions I have made have been in line with our brand values and have come from an honest place, which I feel has drawn the right people to work with Cayo. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have worked with the people I have on this brand so far.

Proudest moment so far
The amazing customer feedback and seeing repeat orders from existing customers coming in. I was very proud to see the sweaters on the shelves of Adare Manor Boutique too, who were our first stockists.

I want my brand to be remembered for… always being transparent and creating items people will have and love for years to come.

If I could dress anyone it would be… Sienna Miller for her effortless beauty and sophistication (an OG it girl!) and Leonie Hanne, she seems like she would be good fun and she is always pushing the boundaries of fashion.