AIB is Backing Brave – We meet Jennifer Slattery Textile Designs

Picture of Jennifer Slattery with her office in the background.

AIB is Backing Brave and as part of our programme of initiatives specifically for Small Businesses, we sat down recently with Jennifer Slattery of Jennifer Slattery Textile Designs. We spoke about the inspiration behind her start-up business, how she developed her ideas and the biggest challenges she’s faced along the way.

Using only the highest quality materials, Jennifer Slattery Textiles create distinctive accessories for your home with original hand-made designs. Their printed and embroidered home ware products include cushions, table runners, placemats and napkins which are printed and embroidered. The company also designs and makes limited edition tablecloths, lamp shades and throws.

Everything Jennifer Slattery Textiles makes is locally produced in Ireland by skilled craftspeople.

Story of an Irish Craft Start-Up
Jennifer setup her business almost three years ago when she was inspired by an idea from one of her projects at the National College of Art and Design. Living in her grandmother’s house, she is the fourth generation of her family to live in a home filled with her grandmother’s vintage trinkets, china, and cutlery. Since all of these were of sentimental and nostalgic value to her, Jennifer wanted to explore these designs creatively. This was the starting point for her collections.

Jennifer has used these plates, vintage china, and antique cutlery motifs by digitally printing it onto fabrics that have been transformed into everything from table runners to napkins.

At the time, there were limited jobs in the textile industry in Ireland and Jennifer wanted to do something different. The designs and home ware products she had produced for her NCAD degree show were well received and most of them sold at the show.

This gave her a feel for the promising demand for a unique product offering and showed the potential for a business catering to the home wares market in Ireland.

“You’re following your own creative journey and that’s quite nice as a designer” – Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer’s biggest business motivation was the freedom it allows her as a designer. This enables her to create something different, experiment, explore, test new ideas herself and follow her own creative journey. Her biggest challenge lies in more business orientated tasks. Dealing with suppliers and managing accounts is hard to balance with staying creative and designing new collections.

Made for Ireland, Ready for the World
Starting out as a small business, it was quite difficult for Jennifer to approach buyers and big stores with a product that nobody knew. Developing and initiating new relationships with suppliers was challenging and time-consuming.

Despite the initial business hurdles, Jennifer’s designs are currently stocked in quite a few big name retailers in Ireland including Kilkenny, House of Ireland, Avoca and Arnotts. Having recently attended a trade show in London, her products are now stocked in The Louvre, Paris. She plans to grow her business into more export markets in the future.

“There is a lot of support out there …it’s (about) tapping into those resources and getting help“ Jennifer Slattery

Her advice for other start-up businesses is this: make use of all the support that’s out there, tapping into those resources such as The Craft Council wherever possible. Jennifer recommends meeting people through doing courses and networking as much as possible.

Her big business takeaway? The more people you meet, the more you grow your business. Take a risk and go for it like you’ve nothing to lose.

Hear Jennifer’s full story. Watch her video below.

Learn more about how we’re Backing Brave and supporting business. Connect with AIB on Facebook, LinkedIn and follow us @AIBBiz and join our #backedbyAIB conversation on Twitter.

Jennifer Slattery is a customer of AIB. Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.