Pretty Bird, an Irish outdoor women’s workwear specialist enterprise, established last year by Galway woman Grace Roche, has spread its wings into children’s clothing and larger sizes.

“We have started developing our kids range of Pretty Bird overalls which we plan to launch in 2019,” said Grace, who lives on a 110ac dairy farm at Kylemore, Abbey, Loughrea, with her husband Ray and in-laws Pat and Margaret.

“We have been very lucky to have a very special lady testing them out. Georgie Hynes, daughter of Peter and Paula, has given them a big thumbs up,” said Grace.

Our Pretty Bird range of slogan farm t-shirts have also been a big hit with the younger girls, so we are looking at also expanding this range in 2019.

Grace has also responded to a demand for larger sizes in women’s wear in her online enterprise.

“Since our launch in 2017, we have been expanding our range of products and have been working to add more size ranges too. We now have products from size small to XXL, UK 8 to UK 22, and footwear in sizes EU36 to 42,” she said.

International Interest

“Sales have expanded to the UK, with great interest from suppliers in France, the US and Australia also. We look forward to developing these further in 2019.”

Pretty Bird received a priming grant from Leitrim Local Enterprise Office in 2017/2018. “It has been instrumental in helping us to hire our first full-time employee and also in funding key marketing activities,” said Grace.

She was a runner-up in the best start-up category of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) in Leitrim in 2018 which was a great boost to the business, she said. “We received €5,000 for coming second.

“We were named in The Sunday Business Post 2018 ‘hottest Irish start-ups’ which was a great and exciting achievement for us and a total surprise. We didn’t know we were in it until a friend emailed to congratulate us,” said Grace.

Practical Presents

The run-up to Christmas is a hectic time. “What was really interesting last Christmas was the amount of men making purchases on the site in November and December. I always love to see orders coming in from men.

“It is great to see them put thought and effort in and buy something practical and useful for the hard-working women in their lives. Last January, one of the radio stations was asking people to call in about the best present they got at Christmas, and I heard a lady call in that she had received a Pretty Bird gift,” Grace said.

It makes me very proud when women get excited by our business. Every other week I get a message from someone – a female farmer, vet or tradeswoman – who asks how is she only hearing about us now and/or where have we been all her life?

“We clearly have a lot more women to reach, both in Ireland and abroad which is so encouraging. The sky really is the limit,” Grace said.

Plans for further development of the collection is to not only include children’s farm/outdoor wear, but also more rainwear and weatherproof workwear for women. “This is so important in Ireland,” said Grace.

“We are currently trying to source ranges from suppliers but are finding it difficult to get the right balance between quality and price. Like our overalls, if we can’t find what we are looking for, we may have to develop it ourselves.”

Female Market

Grace also is working to develop the wholesale side of the business. “Farm co-operatives and DIY stores across the country all stock farm wear and workwear for me but are completely missing out on the female market.

We have had some initial contact with some farm co-ops and we are working on a strategy to build this side of the business.

Brexit, she said, offers new challenges but also opportunities. “We have had a very interesting discussion with a contact in the UK that may be interested in starting a Pretty Bird franchise there.

“There is a lot to think and talk about and decide, but this could be a very viable and strong route to the UK market for the business.”