Art on Fashion aims for global success after funding boost
Belfast business Art on Fashion has secured a loan from the Growth Loan Fund that will help it create up to 12 new jobs and continue its global exports.
The company, founded by Northern Ireland-born Celine Magill, works with international artists to print their artwork on designer clothes.
Each item is produced in small quantities, in keeping with the company's ethos of exclusivity. The clothes are sold in retailers like Brazil in Belfast – but are also exported around the world including Germany, Holland and America.
The funding from the £50m Growth Loan Fund will also help the firm fund its working capital requirements and export globally.
Managing director Celine Magill said: "I have over 25 years' experience in the fashion industry and wanted to use this experience to create a brand that was unique and different.
"I knew I had to create a unique concept with a strong brand identity that would enable me to succeed in a competitive industry.
"I considered the concept for some time, but the idea of putting art on clothing came about by chance during a lunch with some friends. That was when I knew I had come up with something unique."
The firm collaborates with artists from the UK, Europe and USA in order to create one-off pieces of fashion.
"Every garment sold features a picture of the original work of art and a biography of the artist," said Miss Magill.
"The artists get excited about seeing their work in a different context – it becomes wearable art.
"They benefit by increased exposure, plus they receive a commission on every garment sold by way of our licensing agreement."
The investment has also enabled her to attend international fashion shows.
She continued: "We will be showcasing our Autumn/Winter collection at Create 2014 in Brown Thomas' Dublin store later this month.
"This investment from the Growth Loan Fund will support our global marketing plans and enable us to meet working capital needs as the business transitions from in season selling to forward orders.
"We also have plans to take on up to 12 more staff to help meet growing demand."
She has also taken part in the Invest NI Propel Programme after setting up her business in February 2012.
Finance for the Growth Loan Fund – which provides loans to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance – is provided by Invest NI and private investor, Northern Ireland Local Government Officers' Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC).
Celine added: "In the next five years we want to become a global brand, having Art on Fashion clothes on sale in department stores across the world.
"I want to develop our website and create new partnerships which will enable further job creation."
David McCurley, senior investment manager of WhiteRock Capital Partners who are the administrators of the Growth Loan Fund, said: "Art on Fashion has established itself as an innovative brand, offering unique products which has enabled the company to differentiate itself in what is a highly competitive market place."