When the pandemic hit in 2020, designer Bridgene Graham and her partner, tattoo artist Niall Lynch, had to shut down both of their businesses.
The couple, who also just welcomed a baby girl, started thinking about different ways to stay creative and generate income.
“Niall was drawing Japanese-inspired art prints, and I said, ‘That would look really good on kimonos and t-shirts,'” recalls Bridgene, who studied at Belfast Metropolitan Fashion College and turned specializing in couture pieces and pre-2020 clothing alterations.
“After months of sketching, digital designing, pattern cutting and sample making, Coalesce – meaning growing together and coming together as one – was born.”
Their product line includes streetwear and special occasion pieces, for people who want to stand out from the crowd. “When I have events like weddings, I never find anything really different, it’s a ‘little bit of me,'” Bridgeen says. “Now I can just put on one of our silk kimonos and a sash, and I’m good to go.”
Being part of RE:IMAGINE showed Bridgeen and Niall just how advanced their lockdown project is. Bridgeen admits, “We were stealing to begin with; we had no idea how serious it would get! The buzz with the pop up is just amazing; we all help each other. Opening in the city center would have been such a risk for us to do it alone.
Dragon’s Den-style locations lead to six new pop-up shops in Derry and Strabane