My love and appreciation of fashion is all down to mum
I'm Belfast born and bred, it's my home. So the business is firmly rooted in Belfast.
I've always had an interest in fashion. I came from an era when mums made the clothes from bits and bobs of unique and unusual fabrics. My love of colour and texture were nurtured by my mum. And the variety of clothes available back then is not what it is today so the clothes mum made were always quite unique – there are still some in the attic. So my interest developed back then and refined itself over the years.
I studied for a diploma in fashion and design at the College of Technology, Belfast, but I was impatient as well as determined to set-up my own business.
So I left college and did just that when I was 19-years-old.
I even managed to win the young business Livewire Award followed by a UK Special Commendation award presented by the Lord Mayor of London on my 21st birthday.
I have over 25 years of experience in the fashion industry so I wanted to use this knowledge and skills to create a brand that was fresh, new and exciting. However, even with the experience, I still learn something new every day – and face the daily challenges, and the ups and downs of running a business. I guess every entrepreneur will tell you that much of being successful in the early days is about pure survival. And much is also about luck and timing.
I think it's hard no matter where you are based getting a fashion business off the ground, but with modern technology, social media and networking like mad, it is working well. I am working to establish strong connections in London and Los Angeles at the moment and have a network of agents representing the brand.
We have a European supply-chain as everything is manufactured offshore and the finished goods are then brought back to base to be distributed.
We sell to other retailers around the north. We have focused on selling to niche independent retailers around the UK, Ireland, Germany and most recently USA in the hope that this will increase our brand awareness and drive traffic to our website artonfashion.com.
So the online business is starting to establish itself and we are building a great community. And we recently employed a marketing specialist to focus increasing our online sales.
Celine Magill is managing director of Art on Fashion