This much I know: Heidi Higgins, Fashion Designer

Fashion is 80% about running a business and 20% about the design.

This much I know: Heidi Higgins, Fashion Designer

Luckily, I’m good at wearing many different hats. What I actually do every day is very different to what I might have imagined a designer would do on a day-to-day basis. My responsibilities vary so much — today, I’m in my boutique serving customers as one of my girls is on holidays. Tomorrow it could be a day of admin and emails; the next I could be working on my spring summer collection and ordering fabrics for next year.

I graduated from fashion in NCAD in 2008, worked for a year with Louise Kennedy — fantastic experience — launched my own label in 2009 and opened my own boutique in Portlaoise in Mar 2010.

You don’t learn many business skills in art college, but luckily I got a lot of advice from my dad. He’s a self-employed cattle dealer and was a great support with the commercial side of things.

I started the business in tough times, so that’s all I’ve known. Every season I take another step forward and the next big move would be to export.

My advice to anyone who wants to get into fashion is to first, get as much experience as you can and get to know which area of the market you want to approach. Then, start small and focus on one thing at a time — you can’t sort out an amazing website and your next collection all at the same time.

When I opened my shop in Portlaoise I was on the cover of The Farmer’s Journal magazine section and I’d quite a few farmers ringing the shop, enquiring about me, although I’d no interest in any of them!

About two months later I was out in Kilkenny when this guy said ‘oh, you’re that designer who was on the front page of Country Living aren’t you?’ We just got engaged. He is a banker and a weekend farmer.

You don’t become a success overnight. I’ve always been involved in creative activities and been chipping away at things. I was a very diligent student, even in school I entered a lot of competitions and was always doing projects.

My idea of misery is to be stuck in a nine-to-five office job. I love being on the go all the time. But my worst trait is that I’m constantly working and find it very hard to switch off.

I work six days a week but take Sunday off, as does my other half. I’m organised, but I’m going to have to be even more so — I will have a very busy year ahead of me with my wedding to plan, along with my new collection. I think I will design the dress myself — but I won’t make it.

I’m more of a night owl than a lark — I start at 8.30am or 9am but could work up until midnight.

I design mostly dresses, coats and jackets. Tailored, classic pieces with a quirky twist. I’d love to have everything made here, but the skill base and facilities simply don’t exist. I work with factories in Italy and Poland and get all my fabrics — wool crepes, silks and tweeds — from Italy and France.

Getting positive feedback from my customers is the best part for me.

The best advice I ever got is that hard work pays off, and that you should dream big.

* Heidi Higgins is one of the judges for The Budweiser Dream Job campaign — Facebook.com/BudweiserIreland — which is offering someone a chance to pursue their dream job for a year with a prize fund valued at €50,000.

Log onto to vote for your favourite finalist to win outright.

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