Alana has designs on Derry

Designer Alana Doherty. (1708PG14)
Designer Alana Doherty. (1708PG14)

A creative young designer is using the City of Culture to inspire a range of handmade crafts which are already proving to be a massive hit with local shoppers.

Alana Doherty, who hails from South Derry, has designed a range of brooches, rings and cushions which are quirky, colourful and oozing with local charm.

Her bestsellers by far are a range of lavender filled heart cushions, each bearing a quirky Derry-ism. One states ‘Best Muckers’, others also have that Derry feel with ‘Wee Cutty’ ‘Wee Wan’ and there are even special cushions for granny and mammy.

Alana said her designs, featuring colourful hand stitched characters are inspired by her own upbringing in Bellaghy. “They all come out of a kind of childish imagination - simple figures and nice bright colours.

“I like to think of my wee character out on her own adventures - and this in adventure she just happens to come to Derry.”

The pieces are relatively simple - handstitched, with bright colours, embroidery and buttons but they are proving exceptionally popular with locals and tourists who are snapping them up.

Alana’s own relationship with Derry came about quite by accident. In fact it was a chance meeting with a Derry shop owner in Belfast which led the Silversmith and Textile Imagery graduate to launch her debut collection in the maiden city.

“Catriona (Jones) who runs The Olive Tree Boutique in Waterloo Street came into the shop where I work and we just got chatting.

“I suppose we clicked and we have very similar ideas about what we want to do - we want to do something a little different. We wanted to reflect the heritage of Derry but in a new way.”

It was Catriona who first suggested theming Alana’s designs around Derry - and it is an idea Alana has taken and run with it. Her debut collection was launched just last week and already she has received a second order.

“It has been overwhelming - just overwhelming. Craftmakers generally have to do a lot of shows, a lot of publicity and work for a long time to get such a reaction. People were looking for this stock before it was even on the shelves.”

Not resting on her laurels, Alana is now expanding her range for 2013 - and will be using her silversmith talents. Her new inspiration, she says, is the archiecture of Derry. “This city has so much to offer. There is so much inspiration.

“The rows and rows of terraced houses... I just love them,” she said. “I’d like to work on that for 2013 - to craft some silverware pieces.”

Alana’s range is available from The Olive Tree Boutique. You can also follow Alana on Facebook.