Jean Byrne, founder of Design Twentyfirst Century, the organisation who initiated the Designing Dublin project, joined us on Wednesday to inspire the team around the subject of entrepreneurship. Jean shared with us her story of how she became the owner of a highly successful clothing brand, which led her into social entrepreneurship and most recently founding Design 21C. She also let us in on her many tricks of the trade and nuggets of wisdom!
Starting her career selling her sister’s clothes at the Dandelion market, followed by a stint as a personal assistant with Arthur Anderson and in recruitment, she was always drawn to handicrafts, fashion and textures. This drive led her to setting up an export business, selling 10 small Irish handmade products to the UK and European markets, which led to a lucky encounter with a business man at a trade show. He wanted to purchase a bulk order of one of the products she stocked, called Stitchers Limited. However, Stitchers Ltd was going out of business and was unable to fulfil the order. He invested in Stitchers to keep it afloat and Jean took the reigns of the business, turning the company into a women’s clothing label, which went on to great success, rivalling Paul Costello. After selling this business, she went on to work with An Cosán and the Crafts Council of Ireland, before founding Design 21C with Jim Dunne.
Over her career, she has learned the importance of knowing yourself, what your good at, what drives others mad and what you are willing to change. She shared with us that through fear you grow, encouraged us to be flexible, to seize opportunities and to adopt to change. Jean’s wise words and inspirational spirit are of great value to the Designing Dublin team as we move into the last phases of the project and will be of influence long after Love the City wraps up.