WITH almost 50,000 followers on Instagram, Limerick influencer Chloe Walsh is well known for fashion and beauty flair. So perhaps it came as no surprise when the local star launched her own clothing brand, Cinched By Chloe, last month.
But it hasn’t been a straight road that led Chloe to where she is today. Speaking to The Ensemble, Chloe reflected on the journey that brought her to setting up her own brand, which is already being praised for its stunning sequined dresses.
“Believe it or not, I had started off on my venture when I left school. I was in Mary Immaculate College with the idea of finishing up to go and be a primary teacher. I graduated with my Irish and English degree, but ended up actually doing a 360 with my master’s in business in the University of Limerick instead.”
Chloe says that even in her says at MIC she was “trickling into the social media world”.
“I fell upon it accidentally. I just started posting different pictures of me going out with the girls or different outfits I had on and it just happened. From there I was heavily on social media and working with different brands. So I’ve always really been in the world of fashion.”
Coming into the 2020 lockdown period, Chloe finished her studies in UL and was working as a social media marketing manager for DKNY in Kildare Village, as well as working with brands on her own on the side. She says the lockdown period gave her the push to pursue her dream of creating a fashion brand of her own.
Chloe says she struggled at first to find her ‘thing’ – what she could bring to the world that hadn’t already been done. After a long period of reflection, it was a personal experience that exposed a gap in the market to the social media star.
The 26-year-old explained: “I got a dress in the post and it was fitting perfectly on the hip and, of course, it was gaping on my waist because of me being a bigger size on the bottom. So I pulled the dress back and I was like ‘how unreal would it be if it just fitted like this?’ Then I thought ‘that is going to be my selling point’. I am going to construct something in a dress that is going to snatch the waist and give you that sexy kind of silhouette shape.”
Opening up on the challenges of setting up the Cinched by Chloe brand, the influencer admitted there were times she thought she might have to give up on the dream.
“It was very hard and slow at the start with sampling because people were just consistently putting the idea down. I was like, ‘okay, these people are experts, they surely have to be right’.
“I woke up one morning and I was like ‘this is going to work’. So I got rid of all the people that were telling me it wasn’t and stuck with the sampling. It was a long journey, about a year and a half of sampling.”
Reflecting on the day she finally hit the right design, Chloe admitted she burst into tears with relief and pride having created this product on her own.
Explaining the successful design she said: “We constructed a thick elastic band that attached to the side, means it was originally going the whole way around the body, around the stomach, but it was just causing discomfort and it wasn’t even flattering. Then we came up with it as an attachment to the side seams of the dress. Basically, you put the dress on and it pulls the side seams of the dress in and gives us the most beautiful silhouette shape.”
“The quote on the Cinched website is ‘Cinched creates moments and that moment is you’. So the dress is enhancing you, it’s working with your own shape. We often put dresses on and we get disheartened but it’s actually the dress that’s not fitting us, it’s not us.”
Chloe says the experience of branching out on her own has been “just so amazing because each person had literally spent their hard-earned money on my new small brand”.
“It’s been really weird to actually see the dresses on people, it’s just the strangest thing ever. It’s been so lovely but it has definitely been surreal.”
While the Limerick lady teased there will be further designs down the line, says says the focus at the moment is on ensuring the best customer experience with the orders she’s already got – which she hand-packs all by herself like the one-woman army she is.