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The Competition is On at the Derry Designer Business Start Up Programme


Fashion Enter visited Derry Fashion and Textile Hub this week to continue the ongoing ‘Designer Business Start Up’ Programme. Following on from a series of seminars the two-day mentoring session included a ‘Pitch to the Panel’ where the up and coming designers presented their ideas and business concepts, followed by a PR and Promotion workshop.

‘Pitch to the Panel’ was a full day meeting of up to 15 new and hopeful designers who had their eyes on the prize, which includes a trip to London, pre-London Fashion Week in February for additional factory mentoring and promotion.

The panel included FashionCapital & Fashion Enter CEO – Jenny Holloway, Danielle McNally – Business Officer for Derry City & Strabane District Council and top milliner John Paul Doherty from John Paul Couture.

It was an inspiring day and the quality of the presentations and the collections made judging incredibly difficult for the panel.

Jenny Holloway commented: “The creative prowess could not be faulted, every designer we reviewed had their own unique signature and an individual style.  However, it was clear that some of the designers were more advanced than others, which is of course quite common with any collective, and they had prepared business plans, additional promotional material and, in some cases, a video too. There was a mix of start-ups and scale-ups and it was so rewarding to see that each and every designer had their own unique skill set.”

Deirdre Williams, Business Development Manager at the Fashion & Textile Design Centre / Inner City Trust said: “We have all had such a wonderful week at the Fashion & Textile Design Centre, hosting the designer pitching sessions to a panel of judges including Fashion Enter’s Jenny Holloway. Our local designers have enormous talent and are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase their designs at the Fashion Enter premises during London Fashion Week. We have a great history of shirt manufacturing in Derry and a great story to go along with it and we feel that it’s time to revive that industry through our design talent. Our association with and mentoring by Jenny and the team at Fashion Enter is the foot on the ladder that we need to put the designers on the international stage. There are so many exciting times ahead for our designers.”

Danielle McNally, Business Officer, Derry City and Strabane District Council added: “The aim of the programme is to provide specially tailored business support packages that will equip our talented emerging designers with the essential knowledge and tools they need to develop their business infrastructure and growth strategies.  To date the participants have enjoyed a series of workshops covering topics including business planning, finance, accountancy, legal, range planning, costing and pricing, production, sales strategies, marketing and PR.  We are looking forward to bringing 10 talented designers from the Derry & Strabane area to London next month for an exclusive showcase of our local talents as well as invaluable mentoring from the team at Fashion Enter.”

Alan Creswell


Hannah Vail and her brand ‘Han’


Nicole Scott


Leona O’Reilly


By the end of Day 1 the panel had to review their scoring out of a total of 80 and the top five were selected for the trip to London, an additional set of designers were set a timeline of two-weeks to improve in certain areas.

So the clock is ticking – which designers will be ready to come to shiny lights of London Town? To be announced in due course!

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