Jennifer Rothwell (Fashion and Textile Artist). Renowned for her iconic colourful prints multi-award winning fashion designer Jennifer Rothwell digitally prints and manufactures her designs in Ireland.
Jennifer is reigniting the Celtic Revival (also known as the Celtic Twilight) of the 19th and 20th centuries in the 21st century, by celebrating Irish artists, folklore, legends and traditions through fashion in a modern and contemporary way which the National Museum of Ireland acknowledged in 2016, by purchasing her designs for their collections.
Jennifer iconic prints include her Harry Clarke collection, 1916 GPO Commemorative, Book of Kells. Her new collection includes the St Brigid’s print inspired by Harry Clarke and her Féileacán collection. Jennifer Rothwell promoting Irish heritage and culture.
Awards & Recognitions
2019 Feb – UK Financial Times, Jennifer Rothwell pocket squares feature as wearable works of art!
2018 Oct – Jodie Whittaker, the new ‘Doctor Who’, wore Jennifer’s iconic stained-glass suit on the Graham Norton show, sitting alongside Rod Stewart. (see image above).
2018 July – During the Royal Visit of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The Lord Mayor of Dublin gifts a Jennifer Rothwell scarf to the Duchess and a tie and pocket square to the Duke to commemorate their first visit to Ireland. These were custom made designs by Jennifer, inspired by Book of Kell’s.
2018 Feb – Jennifer Rothwell iconic prints are being worn on the Red Carpet at the Oscar’s by Tomm Moore’s wife, Liselott Olofsson. Tomm Moore is the co-founder of Cartoon Saloon and nominated for The Breadwinner and for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
2016 – The National Museum of Ireland acquired 3 of her printed designs for their Contemporary Design Collection, notably the Harry Clarke Madeline print. The Madeline shirt dress, GPO 1916 and Book of Kells inspired scarves. See Quote below from Alex Ward, Curator of Dress and Textiles, National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts and History
“In choosing pieces from Jennifer Rothwell’s collections, I felt that these particular designs would beautifully complement and enhance the existing collections at the National Museum of Ireland in that they represent a very contemporary interpretation of Irish events and movements from a century ago. Jennifer’s Kells print is a modern reimagining of ancient motifs that were popular during the Celtic Revival and her reworking of Harry Clarke designs recalls the best of the Irish Arts and Crafts movement. By incorporating the GPO into a new print Rothwell commemorates the 1916 Rising in a very unique way. Produced using up-to-the minute digital print technology these vibrant pieces evoke our past and at the same time represent contemporary Irish design”
IIBN asked Jennifer to give a description of her Fashion Business.
My designs are elegant and timeless, yet unique they are wearable works of art. The point of difference in my work is my striking use of vibrant colour, which is reflected through stunning printed textiles, clothing and accessories. My collections pair innovative design with high quality finishing. JR designs and accessories are great conversation starters while promoting Irish design at the same time. All my prints tell a very important story, a story about Irish heritage and culture which celebrate Irish artists, folklore, legends and traditions through fashion but in a modern and contemporary way! Wearable works of art, that are investment pieces that will stand the test of time and will be passed onto the next generation.
How did you get the idea/ concept for your business?
I always loved and worked in fashion however a gained a greater appreciation for Irish heritage and culture after living in the USA for over 15 years. So, when I returned home in 2005 I passionately wanted to reignite the Celtic revival in this century through my wearable works of art!
Give a brief account of your education background.
I started off in the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in Art education but my heart was always in fashion, so I transferred into the fashion department in my second year of college. I also worked in NYC every summer during college to ensure I gained valuable work experience while studying. In 1995 I moved over permanently to work in the fashion industry in New York.
Did you always know/ever think you would become an entrepreneur when you were younger?
I have always loved Art and Design. I remember making a pair of pink elasticated trousers for my Barbie doll when I was only 8 years old! In school I remember at the time, most of my peers were going into secretarial college or banking after graduation. I knew that I definitely did not want that type of career or to dress in a suit and work 9 to 5. I wanted to be creative and to be able to wear what I wanted when I wanted. I desired a career path that was creative and exciting
Is entrepreneurship a common trait in your family?
Yes, my late father Tony was self-employed. He was my mentor and a very talented man, a carpenter who was extremely creative! My father had a great work ethic which I inherited. I actually was my father’s little helper from as early as 9 years old I helped my dad tile our family home and also helped lay wooden flooring!
What was your previous work experience (if any)? Do you think this gave you an advantage when setting up your business?
Yes, I learnt the A to Z of the fashion industry and gained experience as the director of Design and Production for many high profile New York Designer companies such as Norma Kamali, Katayone Adeli, Calvin Klein, Language and Yigal Azrouel and worked at Director level in all companies mentioned. After learning extensively about the fashion business and in the NY garment industry, only then did I decide the time was right to open my own brand.
What are the challenges of the business?
The Fashion industry is extremely hard in Ireland because we are on an island with a small population. That is why I am expanding my business internationally. There also needs to be more Irish government support and initiatives for Irish designers and makers in Ireland similar to the tax breaks and incentives given to the arts and food industries. In the UK, the fashion industry receives great supports. It would be wonderful if Ireland followed their example!
What are the rewards?
The rewards are, making my clients feel confident and happy. I am a physiologist but for fashion. Clients tell me all the time that wearing JR designs uplift their spirits and makes them feel wonderful. I also love the fact that by wearing JR designs, they are great conversation starters and at the same time promote Irish heritage, culture and design on the global stage.
Who are your clients, and how do you reach them? I have a very wide range of clients from fellow designers, artists, color psychologists, ambassadors, singers, business people, celebrities and also my neighbors and friends. Jennifer Rothwell art, accessories and clothing is for everyone! In conclusion our customer is a sophisticated, confident individual who loves colour and isn’t afraid to be different and stand of the crowd. We sell on line through our site www.jenniferrothwell.com and other international e retailers and we also do international bespoke orders from our studio in Dublin, in fact my most recent bespoke order was actually from a lovely lady from New York!
How did you initially fund your business? (self-funded, government funding, etc)
Self funded with some government grant aid
What characteristics do you feel benefited you most when starting your business?
The fact that I learnt the A to Z of the business by working in other companies prior to opening my own.
To what do you attribute your company’s success/growth to?
Great design, excellent fit and quality. Extremely hard work, being open to evolve and change. Listening to my clients needs. Being fearless and expanding into new markets.
What is your opinion on the importance of a professional network for an entrepreneur?
It’s extremely important to network to gain more sales and connections for your company’s growth and expansion into new international markets that is why I am a member of IIBN!
Would you ever consider starting another company or involving yourself in new start-ups again?
Yes of course if I felt passionately about the company and believed in it!
If you had one piece of advice for a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
Be prepared to work extremely hard. Things rarely happen overnight. Gain as much work experience in other companies before launching your business. Being an entrepreneur is an extremely tough and competitive business to be in. You need to be 100% committed and passionately believe in your business in order to succeed!
What’s next on your creative agenda?
I am looking into expanding and gaining new clients in London, New York and Dubai and doings fashion events there. Several of my clients are framing my scarves and pocket squares as Art which is fantastic. Also, on the horizon is artwork exhibitions, licensing my prints and designing interiors in Ireland in the international markets so very exciting times ahead!