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Meath woman Or­lagh O’Reilly (40) spent much of her ca­reer in Lon­don as a brand con­sul­tant spe­cial­is­ing in fash­ion, beauty and retail be­fore mov­ing home to Dublin where she now lives with her hus­band Oran and chil­dren Kiki (6) and Dil­lon Blu (2). When Ge­orgina Ah­ern bought her hus­band Nicky Byrne and his co-pre­sen­ter Jenny Greene match­ing North­sider/South­sider sweat­shirts cour­tesy of The Mini Post Ap­parel, Or­lagh O’Reilly’s web­site al­most crashed.

“Cus­tomers are my big­gest brand am­bas­sadors, I owe every­thing to them and so­cial me­dia,” ad­mits Or­lagh, a fash­ion brand con­sul­tant who splits her time be­tween Lon­don and Dublin — con­sult­ing with high street and lux­ury stores and de­vel­op­ing her own thriv­ing on­line busi­ness from her home in Sandy­cove.

The or­ganic life­style-led de­sign brand is very much in­spired by Ire­land, with riffs on Ir­ish col­lo­qui­alisms that have now be­come pop­u­lar with the Ir­ish di­as­pora around the world. “It all started with the ‘Deadly’ T-shirt, which is still the most pop­u­lar item. I de­signed one for my kids and took a pic­ture of them wear­ing it as a way to an­nounce we were home, and I was in­un­dated with peo­ple ask­ing me where I got it,” says Or­lagh.

Ini­tially it was the de­sign that struck a chord with par­ents; ‘ Rapid’, ‘ Deadly’, ‘How’ya’, all phrases that cap­ture the Ir­ish wit and per­son­al­ity; they were some­thing cool, mod­ern and fresh for both kids and adults to wear that was in­her­ently Ir­ish with­out be­ing twee. But the cloth­ing line fur­ther res­onated with cus­tomers when they un­der­stood its or­ganic trail.

“My daugh­ter Kiki had ter­ri­ble eczema when she was a baby and I spent a lot of time re­search­ing the chem­i­cals that are used in cloth­ing. I’ve also worked in fash­ion for years and have seen the con­di­tions in fac­to­ries. It’s hor­rific, so when it came to start­ing my own cloth­ing busi­ness, it had to be 100pc or­ganic.”

The cot­ton is sourced in In­dia and over­seen by the Fair­wear Foun­da­tion, which im­proves work­ing con­di­tions for work­ers in gar­ment fac­to­ries.

In the in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion world we live in, this process can be chal­leng­ing; there’s no next-day de­liv­ery. One of Or­lagh’s big­gest wor­ries is the length of time it takes to make and de­liver the prod­ucts. “This isn’t throw­away fast fash­ion. Grow­ing up we all got my cousins’ clothes and when we were fin­ished with them, they were handed 2 Septem­ber 2017 down again, they were made to last. So far, there’s been no com­plaints, peo­ple are very un­der­stand­ing and ex­cited about the prod­uct, they’re will­ing to wait,” notes Or­lagh, who is pleas­antly sur­prised by her first year in busi­ness — it has grown from cloth­ing to sta­tionery and ac­ces­sories.

“I had no five-year plan or fore­cast,” she laughs. “I was just pas­sion­ate about cre­at­ing some­thing for my kids that im­pacts their world. It’s about start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion and in­spir­ing each other. Good ideas can only get you so far, there has to be pas­sion.”

them­i­ni­ IR­ISH IN­DE­PEN­DENT

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