Making it Work: Luxury leather brand gets firmly in the saddle with increased shop presence

My Name is Ted is one of the start-ups to be featured in Brown Thomas’s upcoming Irish design showcase Create

30th August, 2020
Making it Work: Luxury leather brand gets firmly in the saddle with increased shop presence
Kaisa Gaborec McEvoy and husband Brendan McEvoy, founders of the My Name is Ted brand with one of their leather satchels. Photo: Barry Cronin

Kasia Gaborec McEvoy has ambitious plans for My Name is Ted, the luxury leather accessories brand she established in Mullingar three years ago with her husband Brendan McEvoy.

Inspired by Brendan’s grandfather, the saddle-maker Ted Carbery, the start-up will be among the up-and-coming brands under the spotlight at Create, the annual showcase for Irish design run by Brown Thomas.

Now in its 10th year, Create will launch next month offering new brands a month-long spot on the floor of the flagship Brown Thomas store on Dublin’s Grafton Street.

The retailer’s decision to include My Name is Ted in this year’s line-up has come as a welcome boost for the fledgling brand, whose luxury handmade leather bags for men and women retail at the higher end of the market, priced from €595 to €1,999.

Until now, My Name is Ted has sold mainly via its website, mynameisted.ie, and at pop-up shops at events such as Gifted, the craft and design show held annually at the RDS in Dublin.

Gaborec McEvoy describes it as a “functional” luxury brand. Its men’s messenger bags and briefcases incorporate tracking technology and charging ports for mobile phones. They are handmade in Italy using full-grain leather produced at a tannery in Tuscany.

“It can take up to 16 hours from start to finish to make our products. We test each design for at least six months before going into production. That’s how we can guarantee the quality and functionality,” she said.

“Everything in our collection is inspired by Ted. We launched our men’s collection back in 2017 with this idea of ‘crossover’ functionality. Ted was the inspiration for that first idea.”

Ted Carbery ran two leather workshops in Mountmellick in the 1940s. After suffering an aneurysm at the age of 44, however, he lost the use of his right side. Carbery subsequently taught himself to make leather goods using his mouth and left hand.

“It was Ted’s ability to cross over from his right to his left hand to continue his craft that really started the idea for the brand,” Gaborec McEvoy said.

“Brendan has that craft in his blood. It is his heritage. He wanted to design these bags that would be multi-functional and that could ‘cross over’ from briefcases to cross-body or shoulder bags and backpacks.

“We have a wallet as well that is an exact copy of the wallet Ted used to make back in the 1940s and 1950s.”

Priced at €69, the Magic Wallet is made from leather and suede and has seven credit card slots with special RFID-blocking lining and a secret pocket for cash.

My Name is Ted also sells smartphone cardholders, wireless smartphone charging wallets and a small leather carry case for hand sanitisers (€69), launched after the introduction of the Covid-19 lockdown last March.

“Starting out, we were advised against making products for women, because the market is so saturated, but we were finding that 65 per cent of our customers were women,” Gaborec McEvoy said.

“They were coming to our website and buying the wallets, often more than one, as gifts. We wanted to capitalise on that.”

In response, My Name is Ted launched a range of three leather bags for women last November.

Priced at €595, the cross-body Door Bag has a unique brass buckle inspired by the door at No 7 Eccles Street featured in the James Joyce novel Ulysses.

“The Door Bag sold out before Christmas. We met international buyers in January and our plan for this year had been to expand internationally,” Gaborec McEvoy said.

“Then the pandemic started and we definitely panicked. Our pop-up shops were generating about 60 per cent of our revenue up until that point. We thought: ‘this year is going to be so bad’.

“What we actually found was that our online sales went up, because people were at home searching for products online.”

My Name is Ted is a high potential start-up client of Enterprise Ireland, the state agency.

Gaborec McEvoy, who is 38 and originally from Poland, is running the venture full-time, while Brendan continues to work in the telecoms sector.

“We are really excited that Brown Thomas has chosen us to take part in Create this year,” Gaborec McEvoy said.

“Selling online is working well for us, but because our products are at the luxury end of the market price-wise. We want to have a presence in shops as well so that people have a chance to actually see the products before they commit to buying.

“We are in talks with two other retailers in Ireland and with retailers in London. We have had interest from stockists in the US.

“For us, what is unique about our brand is the story behind it. That, I think, is what sets us apart in our market. Getting that story out there is a really big focus for us now.”

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