Studio Donegal was founded by the Donaghy family in Cill Charthaigh nearly 40 years ago with the aim of maintaining and preserving the long running tradition of hand-weaving in south-west Donegal. The company was set up by Kevin Donaghy, an innovative designer weaver/spinner and his wife Wendy Donaghy, who both moved to Cill Charthaigh from Tullamore in Co. Offaly. Studio Donegal has developed into an international supplier of authentic, Irish handwoven clothing and upholstery fabric for markets in Ireland, the UK, Japan, Demark, France, Germany, Italy and the USA.
Tristan Donaghy, son of Kevin and Wendy, continues to follow in the footsteps of his parents and is responsible for the company’s growth. Studio Donegal has established itself in a niche market of supplying boutique hotels and apartment chains in the UK, Europe and Japan with handwoven bed covers, blankets and cushions.
Tristan said “In recent times we have expanded on our product offerings. We now have ongoing contracts for hotel groups in the UK, The Hague and throughout the rest of Europe. Our bed covers, blankets and cushions are now the preferred choice for many boutique and apartment hotel chains in the UK and Europe, a niche which now accounts for 30% of our exports”.
“We have also seen an increase in demand from a younger generation of Japanese entrepreneurs who have a preference for authentic Irish handwoven, clothing and accessories. We are getting more orders for our handwoven clothing and accessory label from mainstream boutique shops and mail ordering catalogues in Japan.”
The company employs 15 people and until recently focused mainly on supplying craft shops and tourist outlets with handwoven and hand-knitted products under its own Studio Donegal clothing label.
“I think the fact that our studio, mill and workshop are open to visitors and tourists who are invited to tour our facilities and observe our hand-weavers at work Monday to Friday is an added attraction. There they see firsthand how and where everything is made. Our shop sells a full range of our tweed throws, men’s and women’s clothing, hats and accessories as well as Donegal Yarns knitting wool and a selection of contemporary and traditional knitwear.”, says Tristan.
“Our genuine handwoven tweed sells all over the world in exclusive top end craft shops. Everything with the Studio Donegal label is handwoven and made in Kilcar.
We have maintained our brand ethos of being the only genuine hand- weaving mill in Ireland and that will always be our hallmark. We still use some homespun yarn, which we produce on an early Victorian spinning mule. We also use other yarns, produced in Kilcar by Donegal Yarns, who continue to produce a superb range of quality wool and yarns”.
“With support over the years from Údarás na Gaeltachta for areas such as equipment, marketing and training, we have been able to access new markets to promote our label and expand our product portfolio. We hope to expand our workshop in the future to accommodate additional equipment that will lead to an increase in production and employment”.
“We are currently working on increasing our brand awareness globally by upgrading our website, and we expect that an increase in online purchases will increase our turnover and lead to additional employment and secure the existing jobs into the future”, said Tristan.