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Working Lunch: How to weave a brand new idea from old

By Jamie Stinson

Published 30/06/2015

Good yarn: Lorcan Quinn (left) discusses his linen business over lunch at OX with Jamie Stinson
Good yarn: Lorcan Quinn (left) discusses his linen business over lunch at OX with Jamie Stinson

Over the last couple of years the food and drink scene in Northern Ireland has flourished, and we're no longer shy about showcasing the excellent produce the province has to offer.

Consumers are focused on the provenance and traceability of what they buy. Restaurant OX has gained an exceptional reputation for using Northern Ireland ingredients. Now Banbridge-based Enrich and Endure is aiming to do the same with a material sewn into the history of the province - linen.

I met Lorcan Quinn, who set up the company along with younger sister Sarah, at the Oxford Street restaurant to discuss how the business, which started by selling home wares in 2013, has now developed a niche - selling aprons.

The idea took off after Lorcan contacted coffee Mecca 3FE in Grand Canal Street, Dublin about a potential apron collaboration. After gaining the seal of approval from a venue regarded as the best coffee shop in Ireland, the pair began to receive interest from others looking to get their own custom-made apron.

"The 3FE guys jumped on board, we did the apron and it was a great success," Lorcan says. "We then had a few phone calls to say 'can you do one for us?'.

"Initially we were like 'we're not really an apron company', but then we thought, why not?"

While we each eat our Mourne lamb, he tells me how linen is the most suitable material for an apron as it's more durable and breathable as a fabric.

The aprons have been embraced by coffee shops and restaurants throughout Ireland with Established in Belfast, Harry's Shack in Portstewart and Babushka in Portrush - as well as Lost and Found in Coleraine, and Haptik in Newtownards - all placing orders.

The sibling business got started after Lorcan quit his job in property management and travelled around the world. In New Zealand he met up with Sarah, who was working with an interior designer, and it was there they came up with the idea for Enrich and Endure. Lorcan explains how the firm harks back to the province's manufacturing heritage and aims to take a material for which the country has long been associated, to a younger audience.

"Ireland is famous for linen and no one was really talking about it," the 28-year-old says. "It's on our doorstep and where we live is rich in the heritage of it."

For dessert, I order strawberries and white chocolate - refreshing on what must be the hottest day of the year - and Lorcan orders baked lemon coconut.

He tells me how the sibling relationship in the company works perfectly with both having different strengths.

He focuses on the business side of things, while Sarah, who studied art at university, has the creative touch.

In next week's Working Lunch, John Mulgrew dines with Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

Restaurant OX

Lorcan had: Pea soup: .........................£4.00

Rump of lamb: .....................................£10.00

Baked lemon coconut: .........................£4.00

Glass of red wine: ................................£8.00

Jamie had: Smoked haddock: .............£4.00

Rump of lamb: ....................................£10.00

Strawberries and white chocolate: .......£4.00

Glass of white: ....................................£6.00

Total: ..............................................£50.00

Belfast Telegraph

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