This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme

Local milliner turns heads with Millinery by Ciarraí

DATE: 12/10/18

COUNCIL AREA: Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

ENTERPRISE AGENCY: Down Business Centre


Go for It Programme Helps Local Milliner Develop Hobby Into Business Reality

A Co. Down woman has transformed her hobby of creating hand-sewn hats into a business with the support of the Go For It programme and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

The Go For It programme is part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) programme.

Kerry Fisher from Downpatrick set-up her business, Millinery by Ciarraí, after her career in television production came to an end after 14 years. It was only then she decided to focus on transitioning her passion for hats into a successful business creating bespoke hats and fascinators.

Learning to sew in home economics class at school, Kerry watched YouTube tutorials to develop her craft and has since undertaken professional training.

Since starting her business the milliner has been creating headwear for every outfit and occasion including Downpatrick and Galway races, brides and wedding guests, formals and a forthcoming bespoke design for a guest attending this year’s Ladies Day at Royal Ascot.

Kerry Fisher, owner of Millinery by Ciarraí, said: “I had been sitting on the idea of opening my own studio for two year and when I found myself without work I knew millinery would be the next step.  I’ve always wore hats with outfits regardless of season as I loved how they finished the outfit.  I was continuously altering my clothes giving them a unique touch. I love the design process from cutting fabrics, intricate hand sewing to adding the final touches of feathers or Swarovski crystals.

“Friends who had started their own businesses told me of the help and support offered by the Go For It programme. I worked with my business advisor on creating my business plan, a valuable asset and practical everyday requirements such as bookkeeping, branding, and social media marketing.  Social media is vital for my brand as it’s so visual and through hashtags and sharing pictures of my creations, it’s helped generate awareness and most importantly new clients.  People are starting to recognise my signature percher style, which is fantastic to start building a social fan base.

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Friends who had started their own businesses told me of the help and support offered by the Go For It programme.

“I converted my conservatory at home into a workshop where I can meet clients to show them fabrics, feathers, and all sorts of gorgeous embellishments that can make a hat stand out.  Some clients know exactly what they want and I simply turn their millinery dreams into reality, some have only an outfit and I help them dream something up that suits them best.

“The advice I can give to anyone thinking of starting their own business is to not sit on our business idea for too long, or else someone else will pick it up and run with it. I can sometimes find myself working up to 10 hours a day, it’s really important to take time out.  I’m part of Downpatrick Ladies football team and yes, the whole team have bobble hats created by me in our team colours.”

The Go For It Programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies.  It provides expert advice and help with developing a robust business plan to help turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.

Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Cllr Mark Murnin said: “We are delighted to meet with Kerry, to learn of how she has developed her business concept into a successful Miillinery Business with the help of the Go for It Programme.  Kerry’s has taken her interest and talent and transformed it into a new career, and I would encourage anyone else with this potential to contact the Go for It Programme and find out how we can support you to take that next step in starting a new business.”

Joan Tummon, Business Advisor at Down Business Centre, congratulated Kerry for the way in which she has converted her idea into a successful business. “Kerry is an example of how people are using their talents and experiences to make the switch to self-employment. She has done this through determination, belief and a commitment to make things work. The Business Centre is delighted to have helped her on her journey and we wish her well for the future.”

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