“Brands like Pretty Little Thing and Penneys aren’t fashion. They’re about selling clothes,” said Sinead Kelly, founder of Selfmade at a talk in DCU last Wednesday.
Together with Tobi Balogun, the DCU alumna set up the clothing brand two years ago. Giving a talk on the Glasnevin campus, she described what motivated her to set up her own company.
“We were trying to go shopping, trying to buy something- but we couldn’t find anything authentic that we looked good in, something that a blogger on Instagram hadn’t told us to buy using a discount code.
“Selfmade was sparked with a love of vintage – we wanted to make it more affordable and accessible,” Kelly explained.
“In a fast fashion world, people have lost sight of fashion itself. Investing in quality will never go out of style.”
She talked about how she and Balogun started a clothing brand with no money. “Wages come in and come out and you have to try and eat somewhere in the middle.”
When asked what the biggest challenge was for Selfmade, Kelly again mentioned finances; “Money. And [it] still is.”
She noted how so many ideas that she and Balogun had are not visualised. Without funds, it’s impossible to make ideas happen.
Kelly also gave a short talk at the beginning of the speech as to how to use branding in everyday life to promote oneself, in job interviews and especially when working in fashion.
“When you walk into a room to meet new people, you have seven seconds to make an impression. It’s not about the bottle of Coke, it’s about what it represents.” She encouraged the audience to be their own number one supporter and stand up for themselves, while being their own brand, different from anyone else. “Does the message match the messenger?”
An Arnotts personal shopper by day, Kelly completed a BA in Irish and Journalism and an MSc in Marketing here at DCU. She then went on to work in Folkster for four years, after which she worked freelance as a stylist and styled for The Voice of Ireland.
Set up two years ago, Selfmade is a two-person team, where Kelly handles the business and management and Balogun reworks and makes each clothing piece by hand.
“What we want is a studio – where we could both work and make clothes and sell clothes. I don’t want the hassle of running a shop, as this can take away from the enjoyment and love of making and designing pieces.”
“One day, I would love to see us in Brown Thomas and say, ‘We made it.’”
Selfmade pieces are available to purchase online.
By Gabija Gataveckaite
Image credit: Gabija Gataveckaite