- 12 Feb 19
Still only 18, Bundoran native Katie McGloin isn't content with just completing her Leaving Cert this year - she has also set up a flourishing gender neutral clothing business, K.T. Clothing Co.
K. T. Clothing Co.'s mission is to produce affordable, comfortable and stylish clothing that is completely gender neutral. The business came about because of Bundoran student Katie McGloin's ambition to set up a unique and important business.
"I had a huge interest in being an entrepreneur," says the 18-year-old. "When the opportunity came up to start a mini-business in Transition Year, I grabbed it. I really do believe everyone who knew me would have said that I was the last person they could see becoming a fashion designer! However, K.T. Clothing Co. was born out of my own experiences of being uncomfortable in my clothes, and I knew that if I felt like this, there had to be others who felt like that too."
Gender neutral is defined as being suitable for, applicable to or common to men, women, and anyone who exists elsewhere on the spectrum of gender; eschewing traditional markers of being noticeably "feminine" or "masculine". McGloin says her personal style, and her own views on clothing, have always been gender neutral.
"I have always felt that clothes are clothes, literally only pieces of fabric," she notes. "They're sewn together and we add the Men's/Women's/Girl's/Boy's labels ourselves. I think it's about how your clothes make you feel. There is reason to believe that the clothes we wear, and how we feel in them, contributes to our psychological processes.
I felt that people who felt uncomfortable in the "normal" clothes imposed on them by the societal norms (including myself!) were barely being accommodated. And when they are were, they were being absolutely taken advantage of, as many larger retailers offering gender neutral clothes are charging huge prices. I wanted to create something that allowed people to feel comfortable in clothes that are very affordable."
McGloin's hard work and the addition of her much-needed perspective to the fashion industry has been recognised in various ways over the last two years. She won Foróige's National Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2017; the European Enterprise Bronze Medal; the Irish SME Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year; the Irish Women's Award for Young Entrepreneur; U Magazine's 30 Under 30 Award for Start-up of the Year; and Donegal ETB's 1st Place in Innovation and Entrepreneurship - to name just a few!
McGloin is also a youth ambassador for the Shona Project, which celebrates women from all over the world: those who succeed and those who overcome; those who lead and those who think; those who win and those who learn. K.T. Clothing Co. has also amassed some famous fans.
"Maria Walsh, 2014 Rose of Tralee, has been a hugely significant support to the work that I do," reveals McGloin. "Dr. Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, who is my own personal hero, has also been incredibly supportive of my work - she even wore the signature 'I AM MYSELF' to the launch of the LGBTI+ Findings. I am also a huge long-time fan of the singer Lucy Spraggan. I attended her Dublin show in October, and she has also worn 'I AM MYSELF' and promoted me on social media."
McGloin says the feedback she has received from customers has been "phenomenal", and is very proud of the fact that she's never had a piece of clothing returned, ever. She also has some ideas for how K.T. Clothing Co. will develop in the future.
"I'm very passionate about working with colours," she enthuses, "because I'm very aware that a lot of people feel that gender neutral clothing is dominated by grey. I'm trying to challenge that! While I do stock grey items, K.T. Clothing Co. is always trying to inject a bit of brightness into our products."
As for now, McGloin has a tiny little project proving slightly distracting, no big deal. "Currently, I am studying for my Leaving Cert, so I am incredibly busy with that!"
But that won't slow her down for long.
"I am glad to say that I am always working on new products, new ideas and new opportunities for K.T. Clothing Co.! I am delighted to say it's showing absolutely no signs of slowing down."
For more for info, check out KTClothing.com