Training at the Mallow College of Design and Tailoring equips students with the skills to work in national or international fashion.

Mary Cashman founded the Mallow College of Design and Tailoring in 1988. As with all new businesses, she started small and worked very long hours. Fast forward seven years, and she has established a reputation for excellent training, and her students are competing at events such as the prestigious Smirnoff Design Awards.  

Strict on the basics - good pattern drafting, designing and tailoring, Mary believes that her students go out equipped with the skills to work anywhere in the field of fashion, 

They want to go out and make a living, and to make that living they have to have the skills.

Her contacts in the fashion industry keep her up to date with what designers want from new graduates. Getting their work out into the public eye is not only important for promoting it, but also boosts their confidence. Student Margaret Ryan took part in the Smirnoff Design Awards last year and describes seeing her work on the catwalk as  

It made me feel like I was Armani...being just as good.

Michelle Keane is another student who showed her experimental, quirky and imaginative designs at the Smirnoff finals, 

It was a great buzz, you're up there with the top 20 students in Ireland, just brilliant.

Teacher Maria Sheehan specialises in hand knitting. Having been with the college since its opening, she says its courses draw out gifts that the students don't even know they possess,  

All the students are all talented in their own way.

The college is widely recognised as one which consistently turns out graduates of the highest quality, says Mary, who don't spend a long time looking for work, because  

They're used to the hard work, the dedication, and they're very versatile.

This report for 'Head To Toe’ was broadcast on 26 September 1995. The reporter is Ronan Kelly.