From Inishowen to Fifth Avenue
An Inishowen based cottage industry has moved from the Northwest shops to the aisles of Dublin's Brown Thomas and on to Saks of Fifth Avenue, New York.
JoanLido interior design and soft furnishing company attracted national headlines when Miss World contestant, Laura Patterson wore their hand stitched dress at the competition finals in South Africa. That dress is now to be exhibited in the window of Brown Thomas later in the summer.
The Grafton Street store boasts it "houses the world's most prestigious designer brands and fashions."
The husband and wife team of Joan and Lido Ghali continue to go from strength to strength. Their cushion range sits alongside international brands, competing with the likes of Chanel and Gucci. While their men’s shirtwear range seems likely to be next on the shelves of Dublin’s leading store. Those same shirts are already stocked by Saks."I travelled there without an appointment and they met me. I was back in my hotel thinking I hadn't got the deal done when they phoned me with the order. It is great for such a small company like ourselves."
Not bad for someone who gave up their career as a former town planner in Derry, Belfast and Ballymena.
"We have invested everything in this company," said Joan.
Their wedding range 'Celtic Hearts' has also been commissioned by "a wealthy American client to be made into a wedding dress."
The cream Irish linen hand stitched weave will be decorated in swarovski crystals in their 'Celtic Goddess' style.
Joan said: "Exporting locally produced products is how we are going to beat the recession and we are aiming to do that at the higher end of the market. It is important that we hold onto the heritage of Irish linen and our beautiful aran knitwork. Currently I outsource work to the Moville Clothing Company and I hope to be able to hire really talented seamstresses soon.
"The really nice thing about this project is that we are marketing all of Ireland but producing the work and sourcing the material locally. That is central to everything we do.
"We could outsource to emerging economies but that isn't what we are about.
"We've been working to make this a success for five years now and we are delighted by the interest shown by Brown Thomas and Saks."
Having been taught her trade by her mother, Magdalene Morrow, a former head seamstress at Austins of The Diamond, Joan learned side by side with her second cousin, world renowned fashion designer Jen Kelly. Mr. Kelly designed the costumes for, among others, Riverdance.
"Mum was a business woman. Jen and I spoke of nothing else but fashion design and we learned the tricks of the trade in Austins after school."
The future is certainly bright for one Inishowen company.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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