Milliner Aoife Kirwan

We caught up with one of Ireland's hot young design talents.

Georgina Heffernan: Did you always want to be a milliner?
Aoife Kirwan: No, I studied fashion design in college in Dublin. I always had a love for fashion and design and a wish to one day work for myself creating something with my hands, I just wasn't sure what it should be. It wasn't until my first millinery class that I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I fell in love with the traditional skills and the completely handcrafted process involved.

What's the inspiration behind your creations?
Each collection is different. I take inspiration from everywhere from the fashion forecasts at Premiere Vision in Paris, historical fashion references, colours shapes and textures from nature to the actual material I'm working with - or the client I'm working for. I love watching movies from the 1930's and 40's so there is also an old Hollywood glamour influence to some of my pieces.

Where did you train?
I studied millinery at London College of Fashion as well as taking private tuition with couturier and milliner Thomas von Nordheim in London.

Was it tough getting started in business?
Yes it was very tough setting up the business in many different ways from the red tape involved to the monetary aspect of set-up equipment and materials, packaging, branding, promotion, marketing, book-keeping, etc. Thankfully there were great training and mentoring initiatives available from my local enterprise board and partnership company that I was able to avail of. I also had a great support network of family and friends.

What has been your greatest achievement in your career to date?
Setting up my own business has been incredibly challenging and it is what I am most proud of.

Have you had to streamline your business as a result of the recession?
As I set up the business in the recession I haven't known any different but I do believe that adversity forces you out of your comfort zone, makes you fight harder and become more creative.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?
The knowledge that I am working for myself and getting to spend every day creating makes me very happy. I also get a huge kick when I attend an event or open the paper and see someone wearing one of my pieces.

Where do you see the brand going in the future?
I work hard at the business everyday with the hope that the brand continues to grow and expand in the future and I get to keep doing what I love.

What's your motto?
Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I'm Possible.