Launching a business during a pandemic may sound like a daunting prospect, but things have got off to a flying start for new online fashion brand Nu-In.
The sustainable clothing line, co-run by designer Poppy Warwicker from Coleraine, has already turned a profit, despite launching at the height of the lockdown.
"We launched at the end of May, and considering the way the world has been the last few months we were faced with a lot of challenges we just hadn't predicted," says Poppy.
"But amazingly, despite coronavirus and all the potential problems, things have worked out really well so far."
And their strong start, it seems, is in no small part down to some seriously quick thinking and adjusting of plans to fit in with the changing landscape.
While some of the factories the brand was due to work with closed because of the pandemic, others stayed open - and Poppy and the rest of Nu-In's top team changed their plans accordingly.
"It kind of worked out well," says Poppy (32). "It ended up that at the same time everyone was stuck at home during lockdown, the only products we were able to work with were jersey and knitwear because of the particular factories that were shut down.
"It meant we were making stuff like T-shirts and joggers, really comfortable home and loungewear at a time when that was what people wanted.
"We were able to adapt and change our plans really quickly, and we actually ended our first month in profit, which was amazing considering the way the world was at that point with coronavirus. We don't know if every month will be like that, but it was a great way to start."
Part of a four-strong top team, alongside CEO Mike Mikkelborg, and online influencer couple Marcus Butler and Stefanie Giesinger, Poppy spent a year working with fashion brand NA-KD in Sweden before returning to the UK with boyfriend Anthony Niinemae last September.
It wasn't long after moving to Leeds that their ambitious plan to launch a fashion brand began - something Poppy says didn't make her nervous, just excited.
"I had worked at NA-KD with Mike and Anthony, and I came back to live in Leeds with Anthony when he got offered a job with a music festival," she recalls. "When we came back I didn't really know what I'd do work-wise, I thought I'd just figure it out.
"Mike left NA-KD around the same time and he contacted me about starting a sustainable fashion brand. I said of course, absolutely. It was something I was really interested in."
And as Poppy's conversations with Mike progressed, YouTuber Marcus contacted her boyfriend Anthony to ask if he had any contacts in fashion, as he and his model girlfriend Stefanie were hoping to launch a brand.
"The timing was brilliant, because we were all talking about the same thing," says Poppy, who studied fashion at Manchester University before moving to London. "We got together, and pretty quickly, Nu-In was born.
"And it might sound like a scary thing to do, but really it was more exciting than scary. We were able to get investment from our partners, a Portuguese supplier.
"They've been an incredible support and because we had them investing and supporting us, it gave us the freedom to really run with it."
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Back in January we set up our first @nuinfashion showroom in Berlin. We invited magazines and brands to come down and get a feel for the brand and product. It was the first time people were introduced to our concept and vision for what wanted to achieve with nu-in. Feels like a lifetime ago and so much has happened in these short 6 months since ✌🏻
The friends got to work quickly, developing collections with Marcus and Stefanie, and by January this year they were able to launch the brand in Germany.
"That coincided with Fashion Week so we were able to show off what we had to buyers," recalls Poppy, creative director at the brand.
"The response to what we're doing, the vision of wanting to be 100% sustainable, has been really positive from the start. We've had people who want to go on the journey with us."
And from her childhood in Coleraine, Poppy's journey to what she's doing now has been pretty fascinating already.
Growing up in an artistic household, she credits her mum Heather Byrne, an artist and graphic designer at the Belfast Telegraph, as well as her grandmother, with instilling in her a love of fashion and illustration from as far back as she can remember.
"From very early on, I remember I loved to draw," says Poppy. "My mum has always worked in design, she's an amazing artist, and when I was growing up we'd have magazines everywhere in the house. She loves fashion.
"She's a huge inspiration, and I was always drawing fashion illustrations growing up. In fact, I remember drawing the Spice Girls a lot - although I'm not sure how much I've ever considered them my fashion icons!
"And when I was still quite young my granny taught me how to knit. That's what I specialised in at university.
"I won a prize in primary school for a doll I knitted, and ever since then I was really into textiles and my future seemed pretty pathed out for me. I always knew I wanted to go into fashion. I knew that's where I'd end up.
And in an impressive move, not only have the Nu-In team adapted their designs to move with the challenges Covid has presented, they've entirely transformed their plans for the business.
Now with more than 30 full-time staff, they have moved their intended base from London to Gothemburg in Sweden, with most of their employees working there already.
"Before lockdown we were literally just about to sign a lease for a London office," says Poppy. "But when everything started to happen we really quickly cancelled that and we knew we'd just have to change our plans.
"What lockdown showed us was that people can work remotely a lot more than we realised. Yes, in fashion there are definitely difficulties, especially for the designers, the product developers and technicians who really need to be in a room to see how things fit and that sort of thing.
"But a lot of it can be done. With Sweden not locked down in the same way the UK has been, we've been able to open a place there, and most of our employees are based there anyway. They were going to relocate to London, and they've been able to stay instead.
"It just means we will be the ones travelling there when we need to. Mike is in London, I'm in Leeds - and before long Ant and I plan to move to Wales - and Marcus and Stefanie are in Berlin at the moment. So we're doing everything from a distance. Lockdown has proved it can be done.
"And with sustainability at the heart of everything we're doing, we plan to limit our flights there. If we go, we'll look at other ways of travelling and we'll be very efficient in what we do while we're there. Every trip has to count."
With such forward-thinking aspirations, Poppy is clear the drive towards sustainability is something Nu-In will have to work consistently to achieve.
"Sustainability is such a journey," she says. "The industry is still catching up with consumer demand, and I think as long as we're 100% transparent with our customers and have them come on the journey with us, then that works.
"We don't just want the materials we use to be recycled or organic, we want them to be completely recyclable. They're fashionable, they look great and they're affordable. That's what people want now. It's what more and more people are expecting from their clothes.
"We're working towards becoming a circular brand which means people can buy their clothes from Nu-In, and send them back to us to be recycled to keep them away from landfill and minimise our impact on the planet. That's what we're aiming for."
To find out more visit nu-in.com