Opening a new company the day Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008 wasn’t ideal, but glove entrepreneur Paula Rowan had no intention of taking a break after one day.
The UCD graduate had the long-term goal of becoming the first choice for luxury gloves in the international fashion industry.
And this week Paula has reaped the rewards of 14 years of hard work and confidence as international recognition came in a torrent.
“It all started on Sunday night when Lady Gaga kicked off her Chromatica Ball stadium tour in Germany wearing my ‘Fergie’ fingerless gloves,” Paula said.
Gaining international recognition for a niche fashion brand, headquartered in a small shop in Westbury Mall, just off Dublin’s Clarendon Street, is no easy feat.
Madonna and Ariana Grande both wear their Montserrat-style long gloves that snake up the arm. Supermodel Anok Yai wore them to the Met Gala. Your gloves are in the current issue of grace Magazine.
This week, American actress Joey King wore Paula’s avant-garde “Montserrat” style to the premiere of fast train and she tagged the Irish designer in her red carpet post. King has 19.1 million followers.
That’s a staggering reach and Paula sees it as another stepping stone as the interest generated by celebs translates into sales for her gloves.
My gloves range from €85 for the Nina to €4,500 for a very complicated, elaborate leather case
“My plan has always been for my name to become synonymous with high quality, luxury gloves,” said Paula, who designs for both men and women.
“The business has always been profitable, but like all small businesses, 2008-2014 were tough years,” said Paula, who hails from Monkstown, Co Dublin. She stocks quality handbags in her shop and has designed a range of leather belts for both men and women.
The Dublin woman’s status as a glovemaker has grown steadily over the past decade, and when the pandemic hit she was like the Lehman bomb on day one.
“We ended up closing down during my busiest time of the year, and that happened two years in a row,” says Paula.
“Lockdown has provided a lot of opportunities for me because I’ve been working on gloves for the House of Gucci film, my branding and marketing. I have not introduced any new products. I stayed true to my determination and put my energy into the design of my gloves and it actually worked in my favor.
“During the pandemic I got my first Vogue Italia cover, my gloves were in it financial times “How to spend it”, in the Wall Street Journalthe New York Times and major fashion magazines such as Dazed and confused.”
In Ireland she has a loyal customer base.
Oscar-nominated actress Ruth Negga has worn her gloves and Imelda May wears Paula’s fingerless black leather gloves every night on her Made to Love tour.
“I think the reason why so many stylists around the world request my gloves for shoots is the range and variety in the collection,” says Paula.
“There are 120 designs ranging from leather sleeves to elbow length and short gloves to fingerless models in various lengths. They are all designed in Dublin and made in Italy by third generation artisans.”
Reflecting on her business progress to date, Paula says, “Online costs money and you really need to put as much money into your online business as into your shop”.
“With my website I sell all over the world. America is currently the largest market outside of Ireland and with dollar/euro parity it really suits my US customers.”
The “Nina” glove is one of Paula’s bestsellers and she smiles at the irony that she makes the least profit with this style.
“I’ve always felt it was very important to have gloves at an affordable price, so my gloves range from €85 for the ‘Nina’ to €4,500 for a very intricate, elaborate leather case,” said Paula.
I want my name to be synonymous with gloves around the world
At the end of a busy week and with the public now pouring in from Sweden, where Lady Gaga wore Paula’s gloves during her performance in Stockholm midweek, the Irish glove maker acknowledges her brand has “huge potential for international growth”.
Fourteen years after a dramatic first day of business that left the financial world holding its breath, Paula Rowan’s vision for her brand is global and she doesn’t want to get her fingers in too many pies.
“I want my name to be synonymous with gloves around the world. I think events like Lady Gaga’s Chromatica Ball stadium tour, which will travel through France, Holland and England and then head to America, Canada and Japan before ending in Miami on September 17th, will certainly help.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/paula-rowans-work-ethic-pays-off-as-lady-gaga-helps-with-glovers-global-reach-41861281.html Paula Rowan’s work ethic is paying off as Lady Gaga adds to Glover’s global reach