Some of Derry and Strabane’s finest new entrepreneurs were unveiled today as the winners of the RE:IMAGINE new Pop Up Shop initiative, offering a platform to showcase the very best new products on the market.The six successful candidates battled it out for places in a prime retail space in Foyleside, Derry and the Pagoda Strabane, following a Dragon’s Den style pitching event to sell their ideas to a panel of expert judges.RE:IMAGINE is organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council, and delivered by The Fashion & Textile Design Centre (FTDC) in Derry and BID in Strabane.The initiative is part of the new Start Up Accelerator Programme being rolled out by Derry City and Strabane District Council, Enterprise NW and Strabane Enterprise Agency, with £240,000 secured to assist individuals who have participated in the Go For It Programme, to take their business ideas further and develop their business skills. The programme is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.The brands which will be showcasing their latest products are Coalesce Wearable Art; Koto Candles; VS – Mend and Make Do, Oh Sew Design Co.; Scottie Paws; Connie Ann. Each enterprise will be able to show their products in a busy trading space providing a launch pad for up and coming start-ups.

the entrepreneurs were congratulated by the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke, who met up with them to find out more about their exciting new brands. Mayor Warke said the scheme presented a fantastic opportunity to profile new talent keen to get established in the local marketplace. “I was so impressed by some of the products and designs which I’ve seen today,” he declared. “The Pop Up Shop space will really help to connect these top new entrepreneurs with new audiences, and raise the profile of their brand. “We have a fantastic local business community but every successful economy relies on fresh new talent to stay on top of new trends. The winners here today all demonstrate the creativity and innovation that will keep our economy driving forwards. I want to congratulate them all, and wish them every success on their business journey. I look forward to seeing them all become regular fixtures on our high street for many years to come.”The pop up shops will run until June, with five spots in Derry and one in Strabane. The entrepreneurs will also avail of a comprehensive package of wider support including bespoke mentoring, promotional marketing campaigns and technical assistance.  Council’s Head of Business, Kevin O’Connor said: “I am delighted to see six exciting new companies take the next step with the support of the Start Up Acceleration Programme and the Pop Up Shop Scheme. The local economy thankfully is beginning to turn a corner and as we look ahead to more positive times, it’s exciting to see new talent enter the market. I look forward to working with all the successful companies, and to watching their brands grow and develop over the coming months.”Deirdre Williams, Business Development Manager at the Inner City Trust’s Fashion & Textile Design Centre, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for up and coming entrepreneurs just setting out on their business journey. The costs associated with any new business can be prohibitive, so this wraparound package of support will make a major difference to all the successful candidates.  “I’m delighted at the standard of the entries, there are some extremely impressive new local brands which will add to the retail offering at both locations. I’m looking forward to working with them all and to have this opportunity to develop and profile such an exciting array of new talent.”

Meet the Winners

Elaine Duffy, Vintage Star – Mend & Make Do

Elaine Duffy lives and breathes vintage fashion.

For decades, she’s been hunting down the best preloved pieces to recreate classic looks from the 1930s, 40s and 50s – and now you can get some vintage va-va-voom too!

Vintage Star – Mend & Make Do stocks original vintage items and handmade, retro-inspired clothing and jewellery.

Whether you’re after a beautiful 1950s item, some rockabilly daywear, or a fabulous pinny to sprinkle some chic into your cooking, you’ll find it – and so much more – when you visit Elaine and her fellow start-ups at the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up, Foyleside Shopping Centre.

www.instagram.com/vintagestar304050s

Bridgene Graham and Niall Lynch, Coalesce Wearable Art

Meet Bridgene and Niall. A match made in fashion heaven.

During lockdown, designer Bridgene and her partner, tattoo artist Niall, had to close the doors of both their businesses.

Niall began drawing up some Japanese-inspired artworks, and Bridgene decided to print them onto streetwear and luxurious silk kimonos.

And so, Coalesce – meaning to grow together and unite as one – was born.

See their beautiful wearable art – and discover more brand new local designers – at the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up, Foyleside Shopping Centre.

www.instagram.com/coalesce_wearable_art

Catriona Hutton, KOTO Candles

Catriona Hutton is a self-confessed candle addict, who has always loved lighting one at home after a long day.

But here comes the science bit: “I soon realised that they contained things like paraffin wax, which is a by-product of petroleum oil, and other toxic chemicals,” says Catriona.

“I decided to create something that I would be happy to have in my home, and so KOTO Candles was born.”

KOTO’s handmade candles, diffusers and wax melts use planet-friendly raw materials, with aromas such as soothing lavender, and zingy lemongrass.

See – and smell! – them for yourself at the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up, Foyleside Shopping Centre.

https://www.instagram.com/kotocandles

Laura Miller, Oh Sew Design Co

Banish all memories of those scratchy wool jumpers your granny used to make for you. These days, crocheting, knitwork and embroidery are the epitome of cool.

After watching her grandmother and mum knit as a child, and with a little help from YouTube, Laura Miller has mastered these traditional skills to create Oh Sew Design Co.

Think pretty wall hangings, personalised embroidery, and crocheted tote bags.

Laura’s delighted to stock her products alongside other local start-ups in the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up in Derry’s Foyleside.

“Selling online is great, but you don’t have the same community. And for customers, it’s so nice to experience a handmade product in real life,” she says.

“Every stitch is different from the rest. It’s a unique product every time.”

www.instagram.com/oh_sew_designco

Shannon McCafferty, Connie Ann

“I want my designs to be passed down the generations; timeless, beautiful pieces that never go out of fashion.”

Meet Shannon McCafferty, founder of Connie Ann.

A love of fashion runs in the family for the Derry designer, with great grandparents who worked in  the shirt factory, and a style-conscious mother who’d save her lunch money to buy clothes.

After studying fashion design in Liverpool, Shannon returned home and began creating Connie Ann clothing and accessories, inspired by her love of 1970s fashion and Indian fabrics.

So take a trip back in time, transport yourself to India, and see the amazing range for yourself at the RE:IMAGINE pop up In Foyleside Shopping Centre.

Jenna Mitchell, Scottie Paws, Strabane Pagoda

Do you have a four-legged fashionista?

Thanks to Scottie Paws, you can kit out your pet in the coolest of clobber – such as leopard print bandanas, tartan bow ties, and cupcake-emblazoned leads in a variety of sizes.

Founder Jenna Mitchell, who also runs a horse-riding stables and equine fashion brand, has her very own brand ambassador and model: her Jack Russell, Chase, who turns heads in the park with his bright, bold accessories.

Visit her RE:IMAGINE standalone pop up shop in Strabane’s Pagoda, and turn every dog walk into a fashion catwalk. www.instagram.com/scottiepawspets

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