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Designing a Successful Fashion Start-Up

Lynsey McGarrigle in her studio in Strabane


EVER wonder what it takes to cut a dash in the fashion industry?


In the case of Lynsey McGarrigle, the Strabane-based designer has made her mark thanks to a prodigious talent and unwavering passion.


A successful model before her move into design, Lynsey admits: “I loved fashion from a very young age. It’s a way of expressing yourself. Fashion design is a very fulfilling job because you’re making things that people get to go on and experience their life in.”

Focusing on Success

A veritable force of nature, Lynsey’s single-minded determination has paid off. The founder of popular Northern Irish fashion brand, Haus Of MoHawk, she has gone on to dress a host of glamorous clients and is currently working on a top-secret project for the upcoming Grammy Awards.

No mean feat, the designer credits hard work and grit for helping her to achieve her dreams. Based in a bespoke studio in her native Strabane, she has gone on to show at London Fashion Week for two seasons, won over high-end clients in Beijing with her high-octane designs and is currently planning a trip to the Philippines in the new year for a show in Manila.

Lynsey explains: "As well as the highs of achieving your goals, you need determination and drive. You need to have a light-hearted approach as well sometimes."

"You can’t please everybody," she smiles, "but if you're happy in yourself in what you're providing and you stand by your creative abilities and what you offer, you stay true to yourself."


Lynsey McGarrigle sketches out each design by hand

A Network of Support

A graduate of the North West Regional College in Derry, Lynsey formally established the fashion business in April 2016. An exciting move, the designer credits a strong network of support as key to succeeding in the Start-Up world. She explains: "Locally, I have a great deal of support from businesses. I worked from the age of 16 in retail and I learned a lot from the people I worked for. In establishing a business, I knew a lot about the importance of making sure your customer is being catered for."

A skilled designer, Lynsey personally sketches out each design separately, before sitting down to work on the pattern-cut, stitching and embellishment. A task that requires considerable flair and attention-to-detail, she says having people to cheer you on as you face challenges is crucial.

"My family and boyfriend are such a great support as well, they are my number one fans. I couldn’t do what I do without them,” she explains. “There are days when you’re doubting yourself. But they’re my driving force and they give me inspiration when I have lost my own."

Not only does she count on her family and boyfriend for support, Lynsey reveals that the name for her brand was in fact inspired by this close-knit network as well. She says: "The name Haus Of MoHawk stemmed from a pet-name – MoHawk – that my father gave to me as a child. The Last of the Mohicans was a favourite film of ours, so that’s why I got that nickname! Then 'Haus' is urban slang which means something exciting is going to happen. I thought it was a nice combination of both."


Lynsey personally crafts each design

Working with First Trust Bank

Lynsey says that guidance from her local First Trust Bank has also helped greatly.

"The support I received from First Trust Bank was fantastic. They were a great help. I know how to do the creative side, but they really grounded me in the business side. They gave me the tools I needed and the expertise on the best options to go forward. Without the support of First Trust Bank I wouldn’t be achieving the things that I am today," she explains.

"Within the fashion industry, there are a lot of outgoing expenses like fabric, machinery and maintaining machinery," she adds. "You need financial support such as a business overdraft. The Business Start-Up package with First Trust Bank gave me that support I needed. You can go in and speak to someone - you’re not stuck dealing with an internet server."



Red Carpet Ambitions for 2017

With a busy 2017 lined up, Lynsey has a host of highlights to come. But one project is a particularly exciting prospect – as she has been commissioned to create a gown for a client for the Grammys. Lynsey happily admits: "I’m very excited for the Grammys opportunity and that stemmed from showing at London Fashion Week for the last two seasons. It’s great to be a part of something like this. You sit and think that this world exists without you and when you are part of it, it’s incredible."

Watching her designs appear on the red carpet is a happy moment. She says: "It’s an indescribable feeling, everything inside of you is ignited. It’s very emotional. You feel like a proud mother. It’s one of the greatest feelings ever, it’s why I do what I do."

Soon set to celebrate the official anniversary of her first year in business, the Strabane native is keen to share her expertise. For anyone on the verge of setting up their own Start-Up, Lynsey advises: "Go for it! Be aware there will be highs and lows and hard days. But wait for that one moment when everything clicks into place and magic happens. Drive and determination are key. When you have that, it will work."

Find out more about how First Trust Bank can support your Start-Up business. Contact your local advisor today.