When Athlone’s Luke Dully began his personal fashion model, in Might 2019, he could not have imagined that lower than a yr later the nation could be successfully shut down by a worldwide pandemic.
However with willpower and persistence the 26-year-old continued to develop his enterprise and, regardless of the turbulence of Covid, his Walker & Hunt label simply celebrated its second birthday with a watch on growth to new markets abroad.
Chatting with the Westmeath Impartial, Luke stated he discovered lots over the last 24 months and expressed gratitude to the general public for supporting Walker & Hunt so far.
“I made a couple of errors right here and there however I caught it out and fortunately, from the beginning, folks purchased into it,” he stated. “As a result of Eire is a small place I assumed folks may say, ‘Who do you assume you might be? The subsequent Ralph Lauren?’
“I assumed I would need to persuade folks outdoors Eire to love the model earlier than folks in Eire would purchase into it, nevertheless it truly turned out to be the other.”
Describing the model of the Walker & Hunt vary, he stated he needed it to be classical and timeless.
“I might see there had been an enormous push in the direction of leisure manufacturers and streetwear manufacturers. There was nothing actually classical, easy and complex that I assumed a younger skilled would need,” he stated.
“Timeless fashion is what I am making an attempt to go for. The times of carrying fits to work are kind of gone, so I am making an attempt to go for that company smart-casual look as nicely.”
Within the lead-up to Christmas for every of the final two years, Walker & Hunt has had a pop-up store within the Athlone Towncentre, and the vary is presently stocked in 21 outlets round Eire and the UK, with plans to start out exporting to the Netherlands early subsequent yr.
A local of Coolevin Park in Coosan, Luke is a son of Edel Garavan and Padraig ‘Dutchy’ Dully, who’s well-known for his involvement in soccer and lined out for Athlone City and Shelbourne, amongst others, throughout his taking part in profession.
After attending Coosan NS and the Marist School, Luke studied Commerce with Economics at school in Galway.
He started working as a monetary analyst for Accenture in Dublin, and in 2017, with the concept for Walker & Hunt already in thoughts, he and a few buddies spent a yr dwelling and dealing in Austin, Texas.
Certainly one of his jobs within the Lone Star State concerned working for Kendra Scott, a jeweller and one of many youngest self-made millionaires in America.
“I began working (at Kendra Scott) for the Christmas interval and he or she was transport out 40,000 orders a day,” he recalled.
“I noticed the jewelry sitting there in cardboard packing containers, noticed how profitable she was, and thought that if I might come house and do one thing that was even a fraction of that scale it could prove alright.”
After returning house in 2018, he started working on making his fashion label a actuality. Quite a few totally different model names have been thought-about earlier than he finally landed on Walker & Hunt.
“The concept was for a double-barrelled title, one thing with a heritage really feel,” he stated. “Among the different names we had give you, you would be cringing should you heard them!”
Luke defined that the Walker & Hunt vary is created with assistance from a fashion designer who produces 3D digital shows of every merchandise earlier than it is accepted for manufacturing, and manufacturing then takes place throughout plenty of factories in international locations reminiscent of China, Portugal and Turkey.
As soon as the model obtained up and working in Might 2019, EJ Menswear in Sligo turned its first stockist. Luke recalled the challenges of making an attempt to realize momentum in these first few months.
“Any cash I introduced house from America went into it, and I needed to borrow cash to assist get it off the bottom. The price of simply bringing the inventory in was €25,000 to €30,000, and in factories the minimal order portions are fairly excessive.
“I used to be driving across the nation with a garments rail that I purchased from Argos, going into outlets to attempt to promote the garments: ‘That is my model I am launching, would you be excited by stocking it?’
“To be honest, one or two outlets purchased into it, and others in all probability laughed me out of the store below their breath. However that was all half and parcel of the educational course of.”
He acquired a significant increase in August of that yr, when a Walker & Hunt stand that was arrange for every week on the Dublin Horse Present proved massively popular.
“Folks cherished it – we offered out of our best-selling (objects) within the first three or 4 days,” he stated.
“That was nice, as a result of whenever you’re going by way of a low level it may be horrible. If the gross sales aren’t coming in, the increase of confidence that comes from somebody saying, ‘these items is gorgeous’ helps you get away from bed within the morning.”
Luke stated considered one of his fondest reminiscences over the last two years includes a photograph of his grandfather Paudge Dully, who sadly died in December, carrying a Walker & Hunt high.
Presently, throughout the Midlands, the model is stocked in John P Foy’s in Mullingar, Man Clothes in Tullamore, the Man’s Store in Newbridge, Whelan’s in Naas, and Manley’s Menswear in Athy.
Wanting forward, Luke was hopeful that Walker & Hunt would have its personal shops at some stage.
“I undoubtedly do not assume retail is dying off anytime quickly. It would decelerate – on-line is unquestionably having an affect – however I do not assume it is useless or dying in any respect.
“Folks nonetheless like a time out buying. They just like the in-store experiences, and the loyalty continues to be there in the direction of outlets.”
There’s an internet store on its web site (walkerandhunt.com) and Luke stated he hoped to start out exporting to the US within the subsequent two to 3 years.
“If we had a bodily presence there it could be large, particularly when it is a new model,” he stated.
One factor he’s nonetheless grappling with is how one can reply when he is out and about and sees somebody carrying a Walker & Hunt merchandise.
“I do not know if I ought to go over and shake their hand, or faux I do not see them, or give them a nod. I do not know what strategy to react to that!” he laughs.
Hopefully it is an issue he shall be encountering increasingly as time goes on.