I grew up in Donegal, in the north-west of Ireland. I moved to Dublin to study French and Classics at Trinity College when I was 18. I needed a job and just happened to be spotted by model agent at a college fashion show. I knew nothing about fashion or the fashion world at the time, I just needed to pay my rent!
I worked as a model for most of my 20s – in London and New York City, but mostly in Paris. I remember, in the beginning, my agent in Paris asked me to attend a dinner event and Karl Lagerfeld was there and I hadn’t a clue who he was. A few years later I was working in London for Ralph Lauren, and I was wearing a white fisherman sweater unmistakably like a traditional Aran sweater. This gave me the idea to start my own hand knit sweater company. I had grown up around women who knit by hand and I wanted to showcase their work to the world.
I started my hand knit sweater company almost 10 years ago now, and I moved back to Donegal during the pandemic. All my pieces are hand knit in Donegal and I know who knits each piece. My first cousin Muriel knits every single one of my baby cardigans. I grew up here, my family have sheep whose wool is sheared. The factory that processes the wool is here in Donegal. I can absolutely say that my sweaters stand up to anything you will find at any luxury store.
A good piece of clothing, like any item, should be functional – fit for purpose and made well to last. My sweaters are made as they always have been – to keep you warm. They are not throw-away fashion, nor are they meant to be worn only for one season – they are designed to last a lifetime.
The Aran sweater is a classic wardrobe staple, I don’t feel the need to change it very much. I don’t feel pressure to create new collections twice a year, I trust my sweaters will be worn for years and years and remain very much in style.
My sweaters tick along and take care of themselves, after almost 10 years I have it set up in a way that suits me. My sweaters don’t have an Instagram page, I don’t do daily tweets, I don’t collect emails and send newsletters, I don’t try go viral, I don’t do try-ons, I don’t do any of the things that I probably should as a ‘fashion brand’ so I can focus on what matters which is the actual product. So as long as my knitters are happy knitting, I don’t have anything to worry about!