Meet the Maker Aoife Kirwan, Fashion Designer
Aoife Kirwan studied fashion design in Dublin before attending London College of Fashion to study millinery and then returning home to set up her studio in Portlaoise. She meets customers by appointment and makes ready to wear and custom orders to match any outfit and suit any occasion. Her hats are completely handcrafted using traditional millinery techniques with an emphasis on quality and sustainability. Aoife also teaches a range of millinery courses on a one to one basis suitable for all levels of experience. Aoife is a member of the DCCI and is proud to sit on the board of the Council of Irish Fashion Designers as their financial director.
What's a typical day in the studio like for you?
After cycling to work I check that the bird feeder is full and bring in logs to get the stove lit. I set any irons that I will be using that day on top to heat up, make myself a coffee and get to work. Some days are production days meaning I get to spend my day working on hats. Every hat is completely handcrafted by me, shaped on vintage wooden hat blocks, hand stitched and my flowers are made from silk using my collection of antique flower irons. Other days I set aside to meet customers by appointment. I also run a range of millinery courses on a one to one basis at my studio.
What do you like most about your work?
I love having the opportunity to work for myself creating things every day with my hands.
What do you like least about your work?
Trying to stay in control of my time management. Sometimes I can get so busy with the "business side" of the business it can be hard to find the time to actually create.
What's your favourite craft item in your home?
My KDK silk pillowcase on my woolow pillow and my magic box mid-century desk made in Galway.
What advice would you give someone who is considering this craft career?
Make sure you have the correct training and are happy with your skill set. Get help in any area you are lacking in. Network. Believe in yourself. Learn time management and try keep a healthy work life balance. This is something I still struggle with.
What's your favourite time of the day?
I am a night owl by nature.
How do you switch off?
I find drawing really helps to switch my brain off. I can get lost in the process.
How do you start your day?
I swear by my sunrise alarm clock to wake me up. I take a shower, grab my breakfast (mueller and O'Connell sourdough toast and black coffee), grab my packed luch and cycle to the studio.
What's the first thing you do when you leave the studio?
Anything by Stephen King or Laura Purcell.
I love movies from the 30's and 40's like Dark Passage with Bogart and Bacall.
Thai food from The Vine restaurant in Wexford.
What do you listen to?
Podcasts; The Blind Boy podcast, My therapist ghosted me, Murder Most Irish and The Creep Dive.