Thursday 21 November 2019

My Big Idea: How Caithriona got ahead in business by leaving her job to make bespoke headpieces

Cathriona King
Cathriona King

Sarah McCabe

Caithriona King quit a permanent job to set up her millinery business in Galway last year. Now the mother of four makes bespoke headpieces for weddings, races and other glamorous events, and has just been awarded the Irish Fashion Innovation Award for millinery.

"Millinery has been a hobby of mine for more than a decade, but it was only early last year that I decided to take the plunge and pursue it full-time.

I have always loved art and design. I studied art at Waterford Institute of Technology in the 1990s, specialising in sculpture and photography, and at the Womborne School of Millinery in the UK in 2002.

Millinery offers both an opportunity to indulge my love of fashion and an outlet for creativity. My designs span everything from conservative pieces for weddings to very large and expressive creations. For the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards I made very colourful headpieces based on exotic flora and fauna, inspired by a trip to Australia.

The majority of my designs are bespoke. We encourage women to come to the studio and try things on - we have more than 150 samples. We figure out what suits their face and personality and what is appropriate for the occasion, and then make the piece from scratch.

It takes about three weeks from start to finish. Simpler designs start around €100 and it goes from there, depending on what materials are used. I'd like to sell online but I am really keen that customers try our designs on first before they buy.

I am based out of a custom-built studio in Corofin, Galway. It was a big decision to develop it. I was working from home but felt I needed to invest in the right space, somewhere comfortable where customers can have an experience. I have just launched a new arm for the business for hen parties and corporate events, where women can learn to make their own fascinator.

Everything has been self-financed so far with the help of family and friends, no grants or loans. What is available seems more geared towards people who have been unemployed for a long time."

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