Irish Women in Business - Fashion Designer Lucy Nagle
If you've an interest in Irish fashion, you're sure to have heard of the name Lucy Nagle.
Casual chic with a focus on cashmere, after trying on one of her designs you'll want one in every colour.
Having previously worked as a interior designer, Lucy decided to pursue her dream of setting up her own fashion design business in 2012.
We spoke to her to find out what prompted such a huge change and how she's found the experience thus far.
What's your background and how did your career begin?
After graduating from UCD with my degree, I went on to study interior design in London. I then spent about three years working as a design assistant for a company called Ultimate Interior Design.
While there, I learnt very valuable information on the day to day tasks of running a design business. I then felt ready to set up my own interior design business, which I continued for eight years while living in London.
When the time came to move back to Ireland, it felt like the right time to start my own fashion design business as this had always been something I’d dreamt of doing. I started by travelling to cities such as Hong Kong, New York and Paris to attend various trade fairs and gather information on factories etc.
Once I’d settled on the right suppliers I worked on my first collection. I was delighted when this first collection was accepted into Brown Thomas.
What is your inspiration?
Successful women in business really inspire me. I have read so many books written by women starting up their own businesses. They write about the challenges they have met while growing a business and how they overcame problems along the way.
Sheryl Sandberg’s autobiography is a brilliant read which I learnt so much from.
I also found Tamara Mellon’s book In My Shoes a great read. It tells the story of how she stared and grew Jimmy Choo into the huge global brand it is today. The problems she encountered and how she got past them. I read these books just as I was launching my first collection and I was really inspired by these women’s success stories.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I have always loved fashion and design, so starting my own design business seemed like the natural step to take when I moved back to Ireland from London.
I felt the interior design market in Dublin had slowed and I wouldn’t be as busy as I had been in London. So the timing for me was right to start something new.
Designs from Lucy's AW14 collections
Was it difficult starting out and what challenges did you meet along the way?
Starting a new business is always daunting but it’s also very exciting and I love challenges. So I embraced this new challenge and wanted to make sure I did everything I could to make my new business a success. I do encounter challenges along the way however, nothing runs as smoothly as I’d like!
One thing that comes to mind is how long it took me to find the right suppliers. I spent a long time visiting factories to make sure they had the best quality yarn to produce my designs.
I was let down so many times, as they would change their prices and lead times so often that it became impossible to deal with them. I now use a great factory in Scotland who do most of my production.
Where do you sell your designs from?
I sell online through my own website, I ship to all countries around the world, as far as Australia sometimes. In Ireland, the collections sell in Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork and BT2 Grafton Street and Dundrum.
My pieces are also stocked in some great little boutiques around the country like, Emporium Kalu in Naas, Muse in Waterford and Rudi & Maison in Greystones.
Internationally I sell to America. The AW14 collection sells in 45 Intermix stores across the States, including 9 in New York.
What does 2015 have in store for Lucy Nagle?
Next year I plan on expanding into the UK market. I intend on approaching the top department stores in London as soon as I have my AW15 samples ready.
I will also be showing this collection to some great online companies such as Net-A-Porter and Matches.com, and hope they will take it on. I am also working on a kids collection and beautiful cashmere throws for the home in 2015.
Tell us about your personal style essentials.
My day to day uniform is skinny jeans, a cashmere sweater and long flat leather boots. It’s a very comfortable but smart look which I can wear to meetings during the day.
We NEED some Lucy Nagle cashmere in our lives
How would you describe your current collection?
The current AW14 collection is my biggest one to date. It’s full of pieces that can be dressed up or dressed down. Most of the collection is in 100% cashmere which means it keeps us nice and warm but doesn’t add bulk.
The most popular styles this season are the oversized sweaters which look great but are lovely and comfortable to wear at the weekends.
What advice would you give to others in the same position?
My advice would be to work hard and make things happen. You have to put yourself out there, which means getting out of your comfort zone but is really important to make sure things get done, no one else is going to do it except you.
For me, I have also learnt how important it is to keep overheads to a minimum, and re-invest all the profits from the business so you can expand to the next level.