A Wicklow designer, mentored by the ACORNS initiative, is attracting a whole new fanbase for traditional Irish tweed by creating designs with a twist for men, ladies and children. Avoca woman Anna Dobson is behind the new label, ‘Love Mo Chuisle’.

The fashion and textiles graduate has long nurtured a love for tweed, describing it as “chic, classic and incredibly versatile”.

After graduating from the University of Ulster, Anna left to work in the fashion industry in the U.K for a major high street retailer. In 2015 she returned to Dublin to manage a fashion house where she worked with many influential designers including Helen Steele, whose husband has a duck farm in Monaghan.

Although just a year in business, Anna has built up a following for her hand crafted range of brightly coloured tweeds, using a palette of mustards, bright blues, raspberries and autumn green plaid, alongside traditional grey and navy herringbone.

‘Love Mo Chuisle’ has created men’s and boy’s matching waistcoats, ties and bow-ties. The capsule collection also includes ladies fitted box pleat coats and dresses with a contrasting palette.

Children’s Collection

Complementing the classic ladies and men’s range is a matching children’s collection. “I saw an opening for top quality children’s tweed. It’s perfect occasion wear and ideal for keeping warm on chilly days.

“The girls’ collection includes cut panelled coats, hooded capes, matching dress and matching accessories. There was nobody else doing this and I am getting a wonderful reaction from customers,” said the mum of three.

People, she said, appreciate that Irish tweed is an interwoven and intrinsic part of our culture and love the fact that she is broadening its appeal.

I believe there is beauty in tradition. With tweed you can never be unfashionable; it is timeless and classic. What I am doing is designing a contemporary collection which is adding to its allure.

“It’s a wonderful fabric to work with; it’s natural and breathable, hard wearing and warm. All my pieces are cotton fused which makes them super soft and also helps to ensure they fall beautifully.”

Anna is busy in the run up to Christmas and is looking forward to attracting new fans for her favourite fabric which is synonymous with country life, at home and abroad.

Rural Start-Ups

She encourages others in rural areas to avail of the ACORNS programme which accelerates the creation of rural nascent start-ups through support and mentoring. ACORNS is funded through the rural innovation and development fund by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Now in its fourth year, ACORNS provides early stage female entrepreneurs, living in rural Ireland, with the knowledge, support and networking opportunities to meet and exceed their aspirations.

“I think it is an absolutely fantastic project. It has provided me with great support, a super peer structure with mentoring and that has proven invaluable. When people are starting out in business they can feel isolated and a bit vulnerable as it is a big step, so the ACORNS project is ideal.

In rural Ireland things can be that bit more difficult logistically, so given that this is aimed at rural female entrepreneurs I would urge any woman thinking of setting up her own business to get involved with them.

“Their support, advice and knowledge has proven vital to the success of Love Mo Chuisle.”

Anna has also availed of the support of Wicklow LEO and Wicklow Network Women in Business.

Her stockists include: Kilkenny Design Centre, Kilkenny; Shannon Heritage, Shannon airport duty free; The Design Loft, Powerscourt; Quills, Killarney; Kenny’s, Lahinch; Irish Craft Shop, Doolin; Amora, Bray; Fishers, Newtownmountkennedy; and Latin Quarter, Redcross, Co. Wicklow.

Further information on the collection is on: www.lovemochuisle.com. Details of the ACORNS cycles are on: www.acorns.ie.