Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland woman behind hot label Rixo has designs on a quiet Christmas back home

By Claire McNeilly

She's part of the biggest fashion success story of 2018 - but you're more likely to find Orlagh McCloskey at the office rather than a celebrity party.

That's because the Dungiven co-founder of Rixo admits she prefers "generally just being with my friends" when she's not "spending my days in a frantic state trying to get everything done".

The 29-year-old former Asos buyer co-created the social media-friendly brand with her friend Henrietta Rix (27) at their student flat in London after graduating from the London College of Fashion.

And the pair, who met on a fashion management course, have grown from a kitchen table start-up in 2015 to an international must-have label in just three years, with stars such as Holly Willoughby sporting their creations.

Fans of their vintage-inspired dresses, tops and skirts, which are now stocked by Net-a-Porter and Selfridges, also include Millie Mackintosh, Michelle Williams, Kylie Minogue, Hedi Klum and The Spice Girls.

Orlagh told the Belfast Telegraph that it all started when the two friends spotted a niche in the market for beautifully made vintage dresses at affordable prices and decided to ditch their day jobs.

And despite having no formal design training, Orlagh revealed how she "played about with Photoshop and taught myself", which turned out to be "the making of the branding".

"I do all the design and the printing and Henrietta takes care of the marketing side; we're a two-women team," she said.

"It all feels quite surreal but I don't have too much time to dwell on it.

"When you love your job and you're so busy you don't have time to think, but it's really nice to get the recognition that people like what you're doing."

She added: "We're launching accessories in January, which is exciting, and we're starting to introduce knitwear as well to wholesale and we're launching swimwear too."

They each put in £3,000 to start the label, with funds invested in essentials like laptops and a camera, while a third went towards building a website.

They also travelled to independent shops across the country in the hope of snapping up stockists and they contacted influential stylists and their clients on social media.

Orlagh said they started paying themselves a salary in 2017 while they were still working out of their living room as recently as this time last year.

She explained that her bedroom served as the stockroom, while she slept on the sofa for six months before they got an office.

The pair, who still live together but in a different home, now have a staff, a London office and had a successful pop-up shop in Carnaby Street earlier this year.

Orlagh said her mum Angela (59), a homemaker-turned social care student, and property developer dad Dermot (60) "don't get the whole fashion thing" and are simply proud of her and sisters Kathleen (34), who works with their father, pilot Sheena (32) and her twin Gemma, an architect.

"They know it's doing well and they're very proud but they just see it as a job and they're just happy that me and my sisters have turned into nice people," she said.

"We're all really close. I'll be back home for Christmas and I'm really looking forward to it."

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