The Belfast designer, who had a successful career with major brands but decided to create his own, was awarded with a prestigious award.
Siofra Cahert, originally from Armageddon, worked for years with Adidas in Germany and other companies before taking a leap of faith to start her own business from home.
He is one of five winners who received a cash prize of €10,000 to support the development of their craft and entrepreneurship skills at the RDS Craft Awards 2022.
The 35-year-old created Jump The Hedges five years ago, selling bags, fanny packs, storage bags and yoga bags.
Some of the lines were sold out within five minutes.
Siofra told Be, “I worked as a designer with Adidas in Germany and also with some Irish brands. After that I decided to start my own business, so I came back here and did my masters degree and then developed Jump The Hedges.
“It was really an opportunity for me to create something really sustainable because I would be involved in every aspect of the business.
“It was a way of using all the experience I had working as a designer for about seven or eight years. I was able to use the experience gained from living in Germany and America in my work.”
He added, “I am currently making bags out of waste or waste and then I also run educational and community workshops and teach sustainable design.
‘Because the bags are made from recycled materials, each bag is individual, and I currently use a truck tarp, it’s really heavy duty. I get it from all over Ireland and wash it industrially with water, then I cut it up and make the bags, then I do what I call ‘dropping’ bags” online.
My shop is mostly closed and I only open it four times a year, I make a “bag”, I can get 100 bags, which I had three months ago.
“The last straw was in Ukraine and it was sold out within five minutes, that was the previous Christmas and it was sold out within half an hour. They sold out very quickly.”
Siofra said he was “excited” that his Belfast-made bags were popular and that people were interested in buying sustainable products.
“It is not cheap at all, the cheapest commodity is around 70 pounds…but at the same time people know it is locally produced, sustainably and transparently.
“It’s great that people believe in and support what I do,” he added.
After starting his own business, Siefra explained how far he had come.
“It was really hard [at the start] Since I’ve worked in several high paying design jobs and had a very clear career path, it was very obvious what level I was going to move to so going and doing my job seemed almost silly.
“I saw my friends around and their careers were advancing, it was really hard.
“When I got my first sewing machine, it was incredibly heavy and incredibly fast and I couldn’t really use it at first. I didn’t have the skills and I couldn’t control it…I didn’t really use it. I don’t see it going that way.
“I had ambitions, I had my own business and created my own histories, for example, if I hadn’t sold bags for 6 months, I was gone,” but these bags are on sale … I started, I wasn’t. I don’t sell bags.
“I worked part-time in stores, taught part-time, and did all the other jobs. It’s really cool now,” he said.
The designer said he received a lot of support at NI, and his main market was originally in Dublin.
“Now the draw has begun.
“I’m really supportive in and around Belfast, and I don’t even mean financial support, a lot of people write to me: ‘Oh, I really love what you’re doing’ and ‘It’s really nice that you are. in Belfast.
“I have held several seminars in Ardeno and this is very important to me…I meet young people who cannot even imagine being fashion designers.
“You can do whatever you want.”
The 35-year-old says she is now happy to go this route, but it has not been an easy journey.
“Perhaps the hardest part is your own expectations. I did this work, and with pleasure tell people, [they’d] Be like, Oh, adidas, and when you say you’re working on yourself, people say something like, “Oh.
“This is not ego gratification, it is more [the fact] “I do it because I’m happy.”
For other people who want to start their own business, the designer added, “You must try. There is no perfect time.
“There is no better time than the present. You are surrounded by other people doing similar things.”
The former Armagel woman says the RDS Craft award is the “most prestigious craft award” in the country, and Siofra will use her award to train and go to a leather-making and bag-making course in Italy.
“There is really nothing compared to that. To enter the list, you must have won the previous competition.
“I will have the opportunity to learn from the best in the world what I am doing, and it will allow me to create a high quality, luxurious product.”
Siofra said he was “really shocked” to win the award and made it clear that he didn’t think he had won it.
“I thought my work was very extraordinary, I felt what I was doing was very extraordinary, it was sometimes hard to see the value of the waste, and I did my best to show it to people. [it].
“I was really happy, really surprised and so grateful.”