Amal Clooney's Northern Ireland shoe designer hoping Richard Branson can help her step up to next level
A Co Londonderry international shoe designer is aiming to win a grant from entrepreneur Richard Branson to take her business to the next level.
Anita Flavin is the maker of the Ennio Mecozzi shoe brand, which has been worn by international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney.
Ms Flavin, who works from her home in Glenullin near Garvagh, has created the new brand over the last 12 months, working with an Italian shoemaker.
Although tipped to be the next Jimmy Choo, the American designer shoe brand made famous by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City, Ms Flavin said the fledgling company urgently needs investment to fund its expansion.
The experienced businesswoman has entered the world's biggest pitch competition, the Virgin Business Voom pitch awards.
And if she manages to get into the top 80 entrants, she will win a much-needed funded marketing plan for her brand.
"I really believe that we will get into that top 80," said the creative designer.
"We are currently sitting at 121st position and I'm sure that we will get enough votes to get into the top 80.
"Even if we don't, I firmly believe that the exposure itself will bring good things with it as well."
The former buyer at high street shoe chain Office and retailer John Lewis, Ms Flavin knows that she has thrown her hat into a very competitive ring.
"I already have done a lot to present the brand to London and the international fashion trade press and buyers and they are always impressed and want to place orders," she said.
"But it always comes down to the same thing, needing a marketing campaign and that's where I hope that the Voom awards will help.
"A marketing campaign can cost as much as up to £250,000, but I could do a lot with £50,000 so any award would help as we really need the investment."
Ms Flavin produced her pitch video for £370 with the help of Alison Clarke of ACA Model Agency, with model Zara Shaw and the North West Regional College.
Although born in England, Ms Flavin said she considers herself to be Irish, as her mother is from Glenullin and her father is from Co Kerry.
She spent every summer in Glenullin as a child and returned to live there 10 years ago.
Ms Flavin, who is a graduate of the London College of Fashion, explained to the Belfast Telegraph: "When I am designing our collection, the woman I have in my mind to wear Ennio Mecozzi for me is a beautiful woman of passion, power and substance."
Ennio Mecozzi shoes can be bought at Vault, the atelier shop which is run by the fashion designer Grainne Maher at the Spires in Belfast.
Votes for Ennio Mecozzi can be cast at www.vmbvoom.com/pitches/ennio-mecozzi-ladies-luxury-footwear-brand-1