Making it Work

Sully & Juno aim for new heights with their clothes for children with sensory issues

The firm was founded during the pandemic in 2021 and has experienced rapid expansion

Nina Shelton and Gillian White from Co Wexford, Sully & Juno. Picture: Andres Poveda

Sully and Juno, a Wexford clothing company that caters for children with sensory issues, plans to double its turnover to €500,000 this year.

Founders Gillian Duggan-White and Nina Shelton started the company after experiencing difficulties finding sensory-friendly for their own children who have autism.

“During the pandemic we struggled buying clothes for our children online, because the clothes needs to be felt and touched before to make sure that there is nothing irritating,” Duggan-White said.

“The few clothes that are available, look like medical products and are very grey and navy. We wanted to incorporate look and style as much as the functionality of our product.”

The founders became friends when meeting at the school gates for their children’s first day and named the company after two of their children.

Feel before buying

‘Sensory friendly’ products are designed to avoid irritating features such as seams that might be scratchy, tags, buttons or the overall fabric feel.

“The weight of the clothing piece also plays a role,” Duggan-White said. “Some children prefer heavier clothes, some want a lighter feel.”

Despite the idea coming from the need to feel clothes before buying, the company only sells online but Duggan-White said that they include a sensory description of each item which allows parents to decide if they are OK for their children.

The initial products were based on meeting their own difficulties in finding clothes but new products are based on feedback from parents who are customers.

“We started with four designs and a box of 50 jumpers,” Shelton said. “After three months we were already talking about a pallet and after half a year we were shipping 100s of units.”

Shelton said that 20 per cent of sales are now to overseas customers and the company now employees seven staff based in Wexford.

‘Sully and Juno designed different collections for different seasons and colour schemes, as well as an Irish language collection’

They have worked with the Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland to build the company.

Shelton said that her experience working in finance and Duggan-White’s in arts and design makes for a good combination.

Duggan-White said: “I want to include as much colour as possible into our designs. At our office we already have the philosophy to dress to improve the mood, or ‘dopamine dressing’. For our products we want to do the same and have a recognizable design.”

Sully and Juno has designed different collections for different seasons and colour schemes, as well as an Irish language collection. It also offers customisable designs, accessories such as socks and some adult clothing.

Shelton said that while the focus of the brand is on those with sensory issues, the products are not aimed exlusively at them.

“We don’t want to be so inclusive that we are becoming exclusive,” Shelton said. “Our products are for everyone.”