When sisters Malindi and Elena Demery from Blackrock, launched Freddy Ireland two years ago, they knew that they were on to a winner -but they had no idea just how fast customers would take to the flattering Italian brand.
"The great thing about Freddys, which everyone loves, is that they fit everyone -they are not just restricted to a size six and they fit all shapes," Malindi (25) said. "When we started we just did low waist and it was constricting to one market from maybe the 16 to 30 age group. Then we had so much interest in doing a higher-waist style that we actually asked the company to produce them and now that is their biggest seller. So last year we did mid-waist and this year we have done high waist and now our market is actually from the ages of about 16 to 60 plus - it has completely expanded."
Freddy Clothing is the brainchild of Italian designer Carlo Freddy and has been well known in Italy for almost 30 years. The brand is famed for its comfort and flattering design, which involves patented technology and produces a push-up and modelling effect on the buttock and thigh areas, thanks to ultra-light silicon membranes in the fabric.
"They are so comfortable. I haven't worn a different brand of jeans now in over three years because they are just unbelievable," Elena (21) said. The Demery sisters are at a unique advantage in terms of brand distribution - they are their own target customers and business has always been in their blood.
Malindi, who has just graduated from IADT in Business and Entrepreneurship, says she always wanted to have her own online business.
"I wanted to have something that was different, not the next Asos.com, but a different product," she said.
Elena is currently studying Business and Management at DIT. "I have always been into fashion and Malindi has always been the business end of things, so we knew that doing something together would be great," Elena said.
And when family friend, Colman Hourihan, introduced them to Freddy, Malindi and Elena knew they had found their brand.
"We saw Freddy and knew they were different," said Elena. "They are not typical jeans. They are super-stretchy, which everyone wants. You want to feel good when you wear your jeans and not like you are bursting out of them."
From that point on, Malindi and Elena threw themselves into the business, working from the basement of their family home, before moving to a premises in Sandyford. Freddy Ireland is now based in a 3,000 sq ft premises in Fashion City, Ballymount, Co Dublin.
"We started off so small and because it was all online and we were running it from home, there were no overheads at the start," Malindi said. "We also didn't take a wage for the first year. We put every cent of profit back into buying more stock because we needed to buy more and more; it was a cycle - we would sell more, earn more, sell more again and have to stock more."
Almost immediately, Malindi and Elena began to see the long-term potential for Freddy Ireland.
"We were always working, certainly during the first year towards the long term, seeing that reward. It was hard, but it is worth it now. Our sales are up 100pc on last year," Elena said.
"We worked from the basement for the first year and the next leap then was to move to a warehouse, so last Christmas we moved up to Sandyford, but we didn't expect to grow as much as we did," Malindi said.
"By the time we got our delivery in, we actually couldn't fit it in the new warehouse. Last spring we had to look for new premises again and decided on Fashion City in Ballymount, which is so good because all of the retailers go up there weekly."
The Demery sisters' diligent work has not gone unnoticed and they recently claimed the 'Best Performance Internationally' award at the annual Freddy Clothing GTM event for the UK - a market which they only launched into over the last year.
Malindi and Elena have also recently renewed their exclusive distribution deal with Freddy Clothing for the Republic and the North for the next five years and have been granted exclusivity for the UK."We are already in 55 shops in the UK and around 50 in Ireland. We have a Freddy shop on the King's Road in Chelsea and we are opening a shop in Cheltenham in April and then hopefully a Dublin-based shop."
Both Elena and Malindi are keenly aware of how beneficial their comfort with and knowledge of social media has been in terms of Freddy's brand visibility as well as the important of online sales.
"Social media has 100pc been the most important tool for us in terms of getting the brand recognition Freddy has now; Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, that is where it is all at," Elena said.
"We watch all of the bloggers ourselves too and have made some really good connections online," Malindi added. "But a lot of the time people have come looking for us because they have seen others talking about Freddy.
"People just love it and if you buy one pair, you'll want the rest. It is just like finding a really nice sweater and wanting to buy them in all the colours available; it is the same with Freddys, you actually feel skinnier in them, more comfortable and more fashionable."
Sunday Indo Business