North West designer Chloe McColgan is using fashion to help new mums reconnect with themselves in the challenging months after childbirth.

By Mandi Millar

Pictures by LucysLens

A Strabane mum of two is tearing up the template to prove you can combine fashion and family for a tailormade career.

Having worked with some of the High street’s biggest names Chloe McColgan (28) has now launched INCHLOMO, her own athleisure wear label designed around her personal experience as a mum and designer.

But if some might say she’s done it in spite of her situation, Chloe believes it’s thanks to it.

“I graduated on August 1, 2018, and discovered I was pregnant with twins on August 2!” says this talented young designer who’s determined to prove being a mum doesn’t preclude a successful career in the hugely competitive fashion industry.

“Honestly it was the funniest thing. As if being pregnant wasn’t a big enough shock, I was having twins!

“I think I laughed in disbelief for six hours straight. How could this be happening? I’d had a plan!” recalls Chloe who’d been passionate about her ambitions since her days at Holy Cross College, Strabane.

“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. My friends can’t believe I’ve actually managed to do what I always said I would. People used to say maybe I should do a PGCE too so at least I could teach if I couldn’t make the fashion element work, but I was determined.”

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After completing a foundation degree at the North West College she secured a place at the London Metropolitan University where she graduated with a First Class Honours degree.

“The move to London was scary as I was the only one from over here. I was like a fish out of water, but the tutors were great. I was just so excited to be there that I didn’t look back,” continues Chloe.

“I worked my way through uni too as I had to support myself financially, but it was a great way to build a network as I was working with suppliers, manufacturers and designers.

“I got a real insight into the business working for New Look, Primark, JoJo Mama Baby and John Richards and was involved behind the scenes too at London Fashion Week and national collection launches for the like of Next.

“I’d find myself in the middle of some glamorous fashion shoot and think, my friends wouldn’t believe all this if I told them this is where I was on a Monday morning!” laughs Chloe who’d just secured a post graduate job with international designer Marta Jakubowski when she discovered the twins – Cleo and Kolbie – were on the way.

“I’ve always been a home bird though and now I knew I was going to need my mammy, so I came back,” smiles Chloe who quickly reconnected with the creative sector in the North West.

“The creative community and the talent here is truly outstanding. I don’t think people here realise they’re as good as they are.

“There’s actually a lot of support too thanks to the Fashion Hub in Derry where I now have my own studio. I did the Enterprise Programme there which helped coalesce the plans I’d hatched shortly after the twins’ birth.

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“That’s a challenging time for any new mum. There’s a sense that you lose yourself. You’re no longer the carefree young woman you used to be, and you need to reconnect with yourself.

“For me, the best way to do that was through fashion so I set about designing INCHLOMO – In Chloe Motion – ie taking fashion industry at my pace now, as a mummy which has turned out to be the best thing ever happened to me.”

A chance to showcase the ‘athleisure’ designs she’d created for INCLOMO at Pure London, the UK’s leading fashion showcase event, proved the impetus she needed and so the brand was launched.

“INCHLOMO is about clothes that help new mums feel confident again when you’re going through so many emotions and maybe not feeling great about yourself,” explains Choe.

“But I’d love it to be about more than that, to create a community for women, a safe haven, where they can come together and know that everyone there understands because we’ve all been through the same thing.

“The online side of the business is fantastic, but I think having a shop premises is priceless because it’s somewhere women and mums can actually meet and talk face to face,” continues Chloe who also involves her girls in the creative process.

“We’ll have a brainstorming session and come up with ideas together. I want them to be as involved as is possible so I bring them to work at the studio too as often as I can. I want them to be inspired, so they grow up thinking, well if mummy can do it, so can I.

“Yes, there have been challenges, especially during covid when we couldn’t see anybody, and I was on my own with toddler twins. There were times I felt like life would swallow me up.

“But my whole philosophy now is that I’m a mummy first and foremost. My work has to fit around my girls – my company directors –  not the other way about!

“Of course, I want to do as well as I can for mine and the girls’ sakes. But there’s success in your business and then there is being happy. And as long as you’re happy you are successful anyway.”

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