A designer who has featured in Vogue and Tatler shared how she was inspired to start a fashion brand after stumbling across a photo of her grandmother.
my Anderson, the creator of the Kindred of Ireland brand exclusively in linen, recently opened her first boutique in Belfast.
The 28-year-old decided she wanted to ‘breathe new life’ in the Irish linen industry after finding an old photo of her grandmother working in a spinning mill in Moygashel.
Amy, from the nearby town of Dungannon, is the third generation in her family to work in the industry, so flax is an integral part of Anderson’s history.
“I was studying at Belfast School of Art, trying to figure out which route I wanted for my final project, [when] I came across my grandmother’s photo, which triggered my desire to dive into this story, ”she said.
“The mill is now a museum. I went back there recently to shoot a video with my great-uncle, who also worked there.
“He was a manager at the time. He’s 82 now, but he has spent his entire career working in the industry and has a wealth of knowledge which was amazing to me at the start of it all.
“He would have taken me as a girl to see what was going on. The mill had closed by then, but they were making a lot of housewares over the past few years.
“This particular mill would have employed my grandmother, my grandfather, my great-uncle and my aunt. Besides, my father worked there.
“In a very different way from what they did, I am the third generation in my family to work with flax, which is a nice aspect for me.”
Kindred of Ireland started life online, but after a period of impressive growth, Amy opened her first store in the former butcher’s shop on North Street in Belfast.
The building is now home to a selection of craft businesses, including Amy’s, and she hopes that could lead to a revival of independent stores.
“This is part of a new development in the Smithfield Market area. The whole philosophy is to get business going, ”she said.
“There is myself, an interior design store and a few other businesses, including a painter and a lady who makes Irish linen quilts.
“It’s really cool. It’s like a little mini-department store. It has the potential to be amazing and everything is local which is great.
“We would like to establish ourselves in this very local context, but we would also like to use the space to organize events and create a little bit of community. “
Interest in Amy’s business skyrocketed after her designs were featured in British Vogue and Tatler last year.
As the brand has grown, it has kept a special focus on social responsibility, partnering up and donating 10 percent of its profits to the anti-trafficking charity. Flourish NI human beings.
“I spent three months in China and California during my gap year on a social justice-focused mission school trip,” Amy said.
“In China, we partnered with a company working with people who escaped human trafficking and teaching them how to make jewelry.
“I volunteered with them and helped teach them English. It sparked in me the idea of using creativity as a true healer and something that people can use to heal from trauma.
“It got me to come home and try to connect locally to try and do a similar thing, which led to me partnering with Flourish NI.
“They are amazing and provide long-term personalized follow-up to survivors of human trafficking, helping them access state aid and find employment. “