Start-up Story: FiftyFive65

FiftyFive65 is the first Irish clothing label selling quality vintage reproductions for women from the best times in fashion - 50s and 60s. Our brand new limited edition clothes are made with high attention to detail and are hand finished. Feminine dresses, well-cut shirts and skirts are made in modern UK sizes 8 to 16 and carefully selected natural fabrics. We bring timeless and chic designs for day and evening, to a fun and elegant lady, who's not afraid to stand out from the crowd and let her personality shine.

Reasons we started our business

I couldn't sew to save my soul, but I grew up in the house of seamstresses - back in the 1940s my grandmother was the only woman in a reputable men only sewing workshop (she was only a teen when she started), my mum later learnt from her. I've trained my eye for detail and I'm deeply in love with aesthetics of elegant fashions. About a decade ago I've developed a huge interest for vintage clothes and started collecting but it was frustrating to find my size. Especially when it came to my beloved 50s dresses. I searched the shops regularly and finding a garment in good condition was rare. Then the Internet came and so did American reproductions. The fabric and cut were not great in these. Further disappointment came from ubiquitous high street and I could see more and more black around. I felt people are missing out on colour and the way it can make you feel, so thought I'd better do something about it. Putting my love of vintage and the need for good quality clothes together, gave a start to FiftyFive65. These days, I meet a lot of women willing to share their experiences in finding a proper fit and my clothes seem to bring smiles to their faces.

Where we see it going

I want FiftyFive65 to become the most popular vintage reproduction brand in Ireland and Europe. The one that will maintain the high quality of design and bring joy to those who wear it. I want to expand into accessories such as hats, gloves, bags and shoes using talented Irish craftsmen.

We are steadily gaining the trust and the following of our customers in social media but, having opened an on-line shop just a few months ago, we still need exposure. I really try to get there with minimal expense but can see I'm getting to a point where investment is needed in order to develop and well.. continue.

What we have learned

I definitely learnt to trust my instinct. I'm now able to recognise when something is not working, act on it and move on. And because as a business owner you do most or all of the jobs there are to run it, knowledge comes from all directions, but I love the multitasking aspect of it. I liked learning step by step, ie. in social media I first tackled Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, Facebook and blogging are coming to me a little slower. After all I'm a maker, not a writer. I'm know there's more to do, read or master. I try to keep a healthy level of energy for all of it. Also, I've understood the need to take time off. You're not good to your business when you're overworked and frustrated. Overall you learn as much about yourself, as you do about the details of running your own company.

Tips for other businesses starting out

Don't be afraid to ask for help! You have absolutely nothing to lose and people with experience will be more than happy to share their knowledge. They've been there before. Create a situation in which you can ask - talk to your family and friends, go to networking events or use social media. Go get your answers and if you trust yourself, you will know which ones to put into action and which ones to walk away from. Oh and don't try to make everything perfect before you show it to the world. If your plan needs a few adjustments it's best to hear it straight from someone who doesn't sleep and breathe your business everyday, so share and listen. At the end, a single conversation could open your eyes to a whole new world of ideas.

Written by Kate Nowak. For more information visit

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