A Co Clare based milliner is not letting the current health crisis scupper her business and has instead taken on a new challenge.
Gifted Dubliner Ailish McElroy, who has been nominated for Irish Milliner of the Year at the upcoming Irish Fashion Innovation awards, has turned her attention from hats to facemasks to help her business survive.
Ailish is working hard at her Bodyke workshop producing high quality and stylish facemasks to meet demand as the public is encouraged to wear masks in public in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“At this time of year, as a milliner, my studio in Bodyke would normally be a buzzing hive of activity meeting clients in my workshop and designing bespoke headpieces for the busy wedding season and the glamour of Ladies Day at the Races. It would normally be one of my busiest times of the year,” Ailish explained.
“However, with all weddings and large gatherings cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, I needed to think of a way to adapt to this change in circumstances to keep my business in rural East Clare afloat.
It was when the government started to encourage the wearing of face masks in public places where social distancing can prove challenging, that it occurred to me that perhaps I could use my millinery skills in another way and adapt to the changes in this current situation,” she said.
“Masks are not a fashion accessory but they do take up some real estate on your face. So, I decided to create some stylish and aesthetically pleasing ones for people to purchase. Since we’re going to be wearing cloth face masks for a while, it is all the more reason to find one that you like.
I’ve currently turned my small independent Irish business in a rural area of Ireland into a mask making machine and I am now selling online and delivering designer face masks around the country and abroad,” Ailish added.
Just this week, Ailish has also received some large orders for face masks from beauty salons preparing to return to work in the next phase as well as another large order from a diagnostics company.
She continued: “The response has been overwhelming and I am very thankful to everyone who has ordered nationwide and from abroad, in doing so, has helped a small Irish business in a very difficult time. These face masks are 100% Irish made and I’ve taken time and care to source all of the high quality cotton fabric from other local Irish businesses.
The face masks I make are custom-made to order with an emphasis on good craftsmanship. I have created several chic designs from classic black, animal print, bracken print to florals.”
Ailish’s masks have been sustainably made with two layers of the highest quality 100% cotton fabric with zero percent waste. They are lightweight, breathable and gentle on the skin. They have been designed to follow the contours of the face and have two black adjustable elastic loops attached to comfortably fit over the ears.
The masks are also washable and re-usable making them a much more eco friendly option than disposable masks while helping her customers stay safe and stylish.
“It’s fantastic to see people slowly returning to work and shops re-opening across Clare” said Ailish who firmly believes that if there was ever a time to shop local it is now as small businesses re-open their doors.
Ailish McElroy, originally a native of Rathfarnham, Dublin, moved to Co. Clare in 2009. Her studio is currently located within the rural beauty of the East Clare Hills in Bodyke, Co. Clare.
Ailish holds a Masters Degree in Digital Media Technology and spent 15 years as a Graphic Designer working closely with businesses throughout Ireland, across Europe and in China involved in Imports and Exports.
During this time her love for design evolved to include the more traditional skills of millinery which she initially taught herself in the evenings, enjoying the exploration of this traditional craft of working with her hands. As her new passion and skills grew she was offered an internship with one of millinery’s leading lights; Margaret O’Connor in London.
A growing demand for her millinery creations led Ailish to go into millinery as a full time profession and her new business; Ailish McElroy Millinery was established in Co. Clare.
Her love of History, Fine Art, Creative Photography and Nature have always served as the inspiration in her designs.
Ailish engages with her clients at her studio to ensure a meaningful and unique experience that can only be gained through personal consultation and service. This process enables each client to feel confident and beautiful wearing a bespoke headpiece by Ailish McElroy Millinery designed to compliment each client to perfection.
Ailish is an advocate of Irish Design and slow fashion in all spheres and strongly believes in supporting local business. She sources her materials from local suppliers where possible.