Local entrepreneurs showcase their talents Stateside

March 7, 2016

Two local businesswomen have showcased their formidable talents at separate high profile events in the fashion capital of the world recently.

Hairdresser Kay Burns and Roslyn Rafferty, a Milliner, both took the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry during one of the international scene’s most high profile events – New York Fashion Week.

Crossmaglen coiffeuse Kay Burns jetted off to the Big Apple last month as part of a professional Aveda styling crew to create show-stopping hairstyles for some of the world’s top models taking part in the iconic fashion show. Kay, who is renowned among local fashionistas and discerning brides and bridal parties for her stunning and creative up-styles, landed the coup after applying for an Aveda Academy Runway Styling course, which took place in January ahead of New York Fashion Week.

The prestigious course gave her the chance to work with Aveda’s styling professionals to learn everything from behind-the-scenes logistics, to how to create high fashion runway-ready hairstyles. She then returned to the fashion capital for New York Fashion Week to help some of the world’s top designers show off their collections with hair that ruled the runway.

Kay often collaborates with Crossmaglen-based milliner Roslyn Rafferty, creating the stylish up-styles to compliment the latter’s stunning headpieces and fascinators.  Roslyn has also just returned from a trip to the Big Apple after attending Accessory Week, which runs the week after New York Fashion Week.

The Examiner caught up with both Kay and Roslyn this week to hear about their experiences working among the who’s-who in the global fashion industry.

Kay, who has developed a stellar reputation since launching her freelance hairdressing business early last year, told us she was absolutely thrilled to take part in such an iconic event.

“It really was an unbelievable experience and lived up to everything I’d seen on TV,” she said.

“I worked as part of an Aveda team headed by renowned New York Hair Stylist Jon Reyman, creating styles for on average around ten models per show so it was very full on and there was a lot of pressure to get everything right.

“We started our day with a brief at 6am and didn’t finish until 10 at night but we would sometimes get a break to watch the show with the audience which was fantastic to be among the celebrities and get to see your work on the runway.

“I’ve learned such a lot from the experience and can’t wait to go back again.  I’ve been asked to go back in September but I’m so busy with my own freelance hairdressing that I can’t make it.  I’ll definitely return next February though to do it all again.”

Being part of such an elite event has certainly boosted Kay’s already glowing profile and on her return she has landed yet another front cover for Ulster Bride magazine, this time the Spring edition due out this month.  She has also finished a photo-shoot with Bafta dress designer Shauna Fay for her new Spring/Summer Ready-to-Wear collection and has plenty more exciting offers in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, Roslyn is no stranger to the fashion and glamour capital with this latest trip her fourth time attending Accessory Week.

A regular visitor to the show, thanks to her contacts in two extremely high end couture houses in New York, she says this was her best trip to date, having been invited to one of the top New York designer houses.  Here she gained an invaluable insight into everything from the design element to the fabrics to the manufacturing to the shop floor.

“These particular design houses do a lot of work with CNN and CNBC news companies and a lot of the female hosts and newsreaders were there being fitted for the Autumn/Winter collection so it was a great opportunity to find out colours and designs for the season ahead. For us in the rag trade you’re always working a season ahead,” Roslyn explained.

“Accessory Week is really a trade show that showcases every element of accessories from boots to jewellery – any accessory you can think of will be shown there for the first three days.  The next three days is usually spent networking and building up contacts which is great.”

The hugely creative lady, whose stunning millinery and bridal headpieces and accessories are much sought after throughout the locality and beyond, has already proven to be very successful in the city at the forefront of fashion and glamour with her beautiful creations stocked in two bridal shops in New York and New Jersey.   The American market allows her to branch out creatively, with one piece in particular gaining popularity stateside.

“The “Heirloom” is a huge hit with Irish-Americans who are second or third generation Irish,” she says.

“It’s a way of incorporating a treasured family piece into a design. For example I can work with a set of earrings or rosary beads from generations ago to subtly include them in the piece.  It’s very popular for those who want a classy Celtic design.”

Roslyn’s transatlantic contacts have also secured her orders for Royal Ascot headpieces from couture house owners who will be attending the famous race meeting this year and she hopes her designs will come to the attention of fashion circles in Dublin and London, which the ladies in question will visit during their Ascot trip.

Roslyn will be stateside again in October and next February and she sees the international attention both she and Kay and other homegrown talents, such as Cloughoge designer Shauna Fay, are receiving as a glowing endorsement of business and trade in South Armagh, helping to promote the area as well as the small businesses here which, she says, often struggle to generate positive publicity.

“We all plug this area greatly when we’re away.  I’m delighted to boost the profile of South Armagh, in particular the strong female element of business here which continues to go from strength to strength. In the last number of years, women in business in South Armagh are really diversifying and doing extremely well.

“I am constantly boosted by local collaboration and businesses here who promote each other and help each other out and long may that continue.”

Visitors to the “Bespoke by Roslyn” Facebook page can view many of the wonderful millinery and bridal accessories created by the extraordinarily talented Roslyn and, likewise, Kay’s beautiful and unique upstyles are showcased on her Couture Freelance Styling page on Facebook.

Both women are certainly flying the flag for South Armagh business women in the international fashion industry and with their stunning range of creations consistently on-trend, it’s easy to see why these talented ladies are in such demand.