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Fashion designer kickstarts 'glove affair' as efforts to raise £30,000 begin online

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Paula Rowan

Paula Rowan

Paula Rowan

DUBLINER Paula Rowan has had her finger on the pulse of Irish fashion for the last four years with a quality glove business and leather store at Dublin's Westbury Mall.

However, she is now turning her focus to capturing an international market after a successful stint with 'Glove Pods' at the label-rich Westfield centres in London and Stratford.

But rather than embark on the traditional finance-raising route, Ms Rowan has turned to www.kickstarter.com, a crowd-funding platform which specialises in creative projects like dance, design, fashion and art.

Actor Zach Braff (of 'Scrubs' fame) raised $2.8m for his movie, 'Wish You Were Here' on the site which was rated the best innovation of 2010 by 'Time' magazine. By October 2012, Kickstarter had launched 73,620 products raising $381m.

"People can go to the kickstarter site, search for Paula Rowan and pledge money, and I have 33 days left in which to raise £30,000," explained Ms Rowan, whose Kickstarter site invites interested bidders to 'start a glove affair'.

BIDDING

"If people like my project, they can pledge any amount between £5 and £5,000, and in return people bidding over £95 receive a unique leather, personalised pair of gloves from my latest collection," said Ms Rowan, who launched her fundraising bid on May 17. So far she has attracted 10 bidders and pledges of £811.

"I read about the kickstarter.com site in the 'Financial Times' and I was intrigued by the story of Veronica Mars who wanted funding for a movie and raised $2m in eight hours," said Ms Rowan, who formerly worked as an interiors designer and in catering.

The finance-raising concept means Ms Rowan will not give away any equity in her company but she effectively pre-sells product to bidders who receive goods, depending on the level of their investment, within a few months.

In the meantime, the Ballsbridge entrepreneur can use the money to develop her glove range. People bidding at £170 will receive elbow-length opera gloves while the bidder with £320 can get a glove named after them.

Those investing at the highest level possible, over £4,750, can get an embellished 'Ronnie Wood' glove with 26 diamonds in an 18ct white gold setting.

For longevity, the diamonds will be cleaned and reset into a new pair of gloves every year.

"You have to reach your target in a set number of days and if you don't reach your target, and you are just £500 short, then you don't get anything. That's how this system works. I am positive about my glove business; you have to be positive in business these days," said Ms Rowan.

To attract pledges, Paula made a video about her product, goals and ethos.

"I've received international acclaim from celebrities and the fashion press for a few years now, especially in 'Grazia' magazine, which triggered a lot of footfall to my pop-up shops at Westfield and to my store on Clarendon Street in Dublin."

Ms Rowan's gloves have been worn by Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren, director Martin Scorsese, Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker and Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood.

Irish Independent