Doire Dress Designs steps into opportunities in export markets

Doire Dress Designs is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to exploit opportunities in global markets for its bespoke design and manufacturing service.

The company, based at Elagh Business Park in Londonderry, is investing over £350,000 to meet the demand for its unique dresses from Irish dancers, particularly in the US, Australia and Republic of Ireland. Invest NI has offered the company £50,000 to develop its marketing, design and production operations.

Assistance for the company’s export drive, which will also provide nine new jobs, was announced by Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North West Regional Office Manager in Derry.  The company’s export plans were outlined by Mrs Shauna Shiels, who founded the company in 2006.

Mr Gartland said: “Doire Dress Designs has evolved from a hobby to become a successful business that is now growing steadily as a result of significant interest from outside Northern Ireland in its unique design service for Irish dance enthusiasts.

“We are keen to assist the company’s growth because it is an excellent example of an entrepreneurial business with an innovative service that is now firmly focused on developing export opportunities it has pinpointed for its original and high quality products.

“The company, in addition, is offering opportunities to local people with experience gained over many years in the clothing industry across the wider North West region. Our support is enabling the company to market its skills and innovation by taking part in Irish dance events and festivals in its target markets and also by means of e-commerce techniques. It is seeking to harness the business potential, particularly in the US and further afield, from the Riverdance and Lord of the Dance phenomenon worldwide.”

Mrs Shiels said: “Doire Dress Designs is really a dream come true for me. It is the outcome of my lifelong love of Irish dancing and a long-term interest in dress making. My two daughters inherited my interest in dancing which led me to start designing and making dresses for them to look their best at events. The garments attracted the attention of other dancers and their mothers and this led to approaches to make dresses for them.

“I know from the shows we’ve attended that the market for quality Irish dancing dresses is fantastic. This has also been confirmed by the level of enquiries that we’ve received from dance enthusiasts visiting our website, which has also encouraged me to develop the site as a key business tool.

“The guidance and very practical support that the business has received from Invest NI in key areas such as production, marketing, IT and e-commerce continues to be immensely important and is helping us to drive the business forward, particularly in terms of sales outside Northern Ireland. Currently, 30 per cent of sales come from export markets including the US, a market our research indicates offers exciting opportunities over the next few years.”