The future looks golden

By Michelle Newman

Hollywood awards ceremonies are known for bringing out the best in the business, from singers, to actors and even designers. 

Among the Gucci and Dior Haute Couture gowns the startles wore to the 2018 Golden Globes, a dress created by Newry-based designer Shauna Fay also had its moment in the spotlight. 

“She phoned the shop and I happened to answer. She just said that she was going to the Golden Globes and would I be interested in sorting her out for a dress or would I have time,” Shauna says of Rachel Clerkin, who went along on the night as her dad, Jim Clerkin’s, guest. 

“I said, ‘absolutely,’ because you don’t get those calls every day! By the time we had finalised the design we had about two weeks to get it made. It was a wee bit time consuming, but it all worked out and I have to say I really loved it.” 

Shauna goes on to say that seeing someone wear a dress she has deigned is a bit of a ‘weird’ experience.

“To tell you the truth it’s one of those things that designers always dream about but when you actually see your designs, it’s sort of surreal actually. When you know that the dress was sitting in the shop a couple of days ago and now it’s sitting beside Kendall Jenner.” 

Shauna explains that the exposure she has received over the dress has been fantastic, especially as she recently relocated her business from Belfast to just outside Newry. 

“I didn’t really do a whole lot of advertising when I moved so it’s great to have everybody sort of start to realise exactly where I am as well.”

At 34-years-old, Shauna is now a successful business owner whose heart was set on becoming a fashion designer from a very young age, with one area in particular in mind.

“I was always impressed with dressy and more fancy stuff. I love casual wear and all that but I was never interested in designing it, it was always red carpets, bridal, that was what I was really into.”

Shauna left school when she was 17 and after asking her mum to buy her a sewing machine she then put an ad in the local paper advertising her skills with the hope of getting some work. And having the ‘guts’ to do this, certainly paid off for the budding entrepreneur. 

“I made Irish dancing dresses and I moved into bridal wear then. I did that for a few years and learned a lot. When I was 24 I went back to college and did a HND in fashion at BelfastMetropolitan College, and then I started my own business a couple of years after that.” 

The prospect of being the one in charge did daunt Shauna somewhat but she says in this country, this is nearly always necessary if you want to make it as a designer. 

“I think you find that you’re either creative or a real business person and I have to say if you ask anybody, that I’m not very good at business. I don’t like that aspect of it but because we’re in Ireland you sort of have to float your own canoe.

“Don’t get me wrong everybody hates the end of the tax year but you just have to knuckle down for a couple of weeks and get it done and then it’s over for another year,” she says adding that there’s no ‘right or wrong’ way to go about setting up your own shop and that luck has as much to do with it as everything else. 

“I wouldn’t say the way I did it was right and the way somebody else has done it, was wrong. To tell you the truth it’s very much about people’s personal preference and luck, and if people don’t like what you’re creating they’re not going to buy it.”

Shauna says that bridal and occasion wear pieces are her ‘bread and butter’ but she would love to have the opportunity to design more creative pieces too.

“I personally would be very inspired by Dior and old Hollywood glamour; all about the fit. I like to really accentuate the woman’s figure as opposed to hide it, that’s’ what I’m about. 

“Two-and-a-half years ago I started my own ready-to-wear collection so I try to push that more so, but we usually do one custom-made piece a month.”

The Shauna Fay Spring Summer 2018 Collection launched on February 3, so Shauna and her team of three – full-time staff member Anna and part-time worker Terri– were kept busy getting everything organised on time for that. 

“We all have our pressure times but we’re all in it together. Everybody gets on really well and it’s good craic,” Shauna says.

“For the future I would really like to be stocked in the likes of Brown Thomas, Harrods and lovely places. I wold love to be going into manufacture in a couple of years and hopefully if I build the brand right, I’ll end up going into nice areas like that.” 


For more information on Shauna Fay find her on Facebook

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