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Galway Independent


Designing a network

Wednesday, 15th March, 2017 1:00am

A new initiative aimed at promoting independent designers in Galway has been launched.

Galway Designers Network is the brainchild of dynamic duo Gayle Poppers and Ann Petrov. Both designers themselves, Gayle runs Kizmet Clothing while Ann is the proprietor of Cozy Handmade Designs.

The main aim of the new network is to support the creative works of local fashion designers. According to Ann, the network covers all genres with each of the designers bringing “something different” to the table.

“There’s jewellery, there’s milliners, there’s clothes. I personally do knitwear and Gayle does a boho-chic clothing line,” she says, adding there is a great variety of fashion on offer in Galway. “In terms of jewellery, there’s wedding jewellery down to really out-there African fabrics wrapped around necklaces. It’s really artistic stuff and it goes from wall to wall.”

Each local designer is very different however each one is working for themselves, trying to break into the industry, and many are also mothers, trying hard to build their business up around their family`s needs.

Both Ann and Gayle are busy mothers of two, working from home trying to build a business around the needs and wants of their children. Balancing work and family life can be tricky, says Ann.

Realising that there were other designers in similar situations as themselves, Gayle and Ann created the Galway Designers Network in a bid to boost each other, share ideas, advice and build a community of like-minded women in the creative business.

“What we try to say is don’t give up your dreams. If you want to do something and you’re very passionate like we are, I have done it for the past five years beside my kids, and the same for Gayle and a lot of designers, that having children, having families doesn’t have to mean your dreams are finished. There is support there to help you out and we do what we can,” says Ann.

Both women come from a business background already, and Ann says this does help, however she adds that the whole point of the network is to help and support each other.

“We all lack a little bit in some way and some of us wouldn’t know that much about social media but would be great talking to a customer face-to-face so that’s where we try to help each other out as well.”

A relatively new concept, the network project only came about eight weeks ago but the organisation now hopes to meet every month.

The network will be officially launched at the upcoming Galway Designers Network showcase, as Gayle explains, “Galway has a huge fashion following already. However, the general feeling is that a lot of the fashion events can be very boutique based, which leaves behind the likes of myself and the other designers taking part.”

“We all feel that there is a huge niche in the market here for an event and organisation of this calibre, and we are very excited by where this initiative is going right now,” she adds.

According to Ann, Galway is home to “great designers” but they are often being lost to Sligo, Limerick, Dublin and London. She is hopeful that showcases like the one they are organising next week will encourage people to stay in Galway.

Saturday 25 March will see the official launch of the Galway Designers Fashion Showcase at the Bank of Ireland Workbench on Mainguard Street, Galway. The first of its kind, the launch of the new enterprise is being met with huge support and positivity from many people in the industry.

Beginning at 2pm, there will be two shows over the course of the day, with nine designers already lined up for the showcase.

According to Gayle, the venue itself, the Bank of Ireland Workbench on Mainguard Street, Galway, is “fantastic” for being available to help boost start-up businesses and provide networking opportunities. Workbench is a unique concept which connects entrepreneurs, BOI, and the local community by offering free dedicated space for co-working, seminars, clinics and events to encourage innovation and new ideas.

The showcase event will also consist of designer pop-up stalls, along with a Catwalk Fashion Show, goodie bags filled with local craft goods, and, of course, the all-important opportunity to network and mingle with like-minded designers.

For more, visit Galway Designers Fashion Showcase on Facebook or email

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