Newport based fashion designer Lisa Ryder launched her new business just over three years ago, but already she is making a name for herself in the exclusive world of high-end handbag design.
She has been chosen by Brown Thomas as one of a select few young designers to showcase emerging Irish talent and she is gathering an impressive collection of awards and titles, including being named accessories designer of the year by Galway Now and a ‘FutureMaker’ by the Craft Council of Ireland.
Next weekend, on March 7, Ms Ryder will show her work alongside some of the biggest names in the Irish design industry, such as Louise Kennedy, Helen Cody, and Honor Fitzsimons, at the Arc Fashion Show in the RDS, Dublin, and she has also been shortlisted for a coveted Irish Fashion Industry Award 2015.
It certainly looks like a very strong start for Ms Ryder’s ambition to develop a major luxury fashion brand from her studio in Newport in Mayo.
Ms Ryder started out making scarfs but changed to bags a few seasons ago. Her distinctive, vibrant, prints on 100 per cent leather are manufactured by a small family business in Italy.
Ms Ryder’s decision to relocate to her native Newport a few years ago is now being reflected in her colourful designs and there have been some other benefits as well to starting up her business in Mayo rather than in London or Dublin.
“Initially, I was inspired a lot by the urban landscape but where I’m living now is creeping more and more into my work and designs,” said Lisa Ryder, speaking to the Mayo Advertiser earlier this week.
“In Just Surrealism (the new collection ), there is more nature - the flamingo is the main character and there are Japanese paintings, gardens and bonzi trees, all in their own little worlds.
“The colours come very instinctively,” she continued. “I do look at what is in trend but mostly I go with my instincts, so in this collection there are a lot of lilacs, baby blues, and oranges.”
Aside from the new design inspiration, Ms Ryder says Newport was a more attractive option when it came to financing her start-up business.
“When you are just starting out in your own business you have to invest a lot of money in your company. I got the opportunity to come home and have a studio here without having to pay crazy rents, which is the death of any new business, and I took it,” she said.
“Obviously in fashion design in Ireland Dublin is where it all happens, and sometimes I can feel forgotten about a little bit in Mayo, but it is less stressful, more peaceful, as well. It is only three hours away so it isn’t such a big deal.”
Ms Ryder said she found plenty of support for her business at the Mayo Local Enterprise Office.
“They helped me to attend a trade show and also provided support through mentoring and with my web development. I learned a lot of skills through them that I didn’t think about but which are crucial when you are setting up a business.”
And setting up in business on your own is hard, she added.
“I would love to be able to sit in my room and design and have someone else to market me and sell and all of those things. But at the beginning that’s just not possible. You are a jack of all trades and you have to work really hard at it.”
However Ireland is somewhat kinder to young designers than other fashion centres, according to Lisa.
“London can be quite cutthroat, but Ireland is a great country for nurturing the creative.
“The fashion industry here allows new designers to be seen to a certain extent and gives up and coming talent a platform.”
Platform or not, it takes serious talent and business know-how to make an impact in the fashion world.
Ms Ryder’s bags are being received very well and as well as selling them online, they are stocked by a few select retailers in Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, and Germany.
When you are growing a brand, you have be very careful about protecting it and developing it strategically, says Lisa.
“I have to be really careful about how I sell them. These are limited edition items so I don’t want these bags to be everywhere. I want them to be sitting beside the right brands.”
Ms Ryder’s latest collection, Just Surrealism, can be viewed at her website at www.lisaryderdesigns.ie