Síofra Caherty is founder of multidisciplinary design studio Jump The Hedges.  Jump The Hedges focuses on sustainability, functionality and local manufacturing.  From working in luxury fashion in New York, to designing wearable technology on Ireland's West coast to designing performance clothing for Adidas in Germany, Síofra's creative identity has evolved due to a constant pursuit of innovative design and an addiction to solving problems.  A recipient of the Design and Craft Council of Ireland Future Maker Awards in both 2015 and 2016, Síofra currently has work on display as part of the Shape The Future exhibition in NCAD in Dublin.  Shape The Future is a curated exhibition of some of the most up and coming designer makers to have won Future Maker awards.

Here's our interview with Síofra:

How did you come up with your product?

Whilst living in San Francisco I began practicing yoga but could not find a suitable bag for carrying my mat.  I wanted something that was water resistant for cycling and that was big enough to carry other things beside my mat.  Over the next few years I continued to look for something suitable yet was unable to find anything that fulfilled my needs.  I decided to create my own product and this is where 'The Yoga Sac' was born.

What made you start designing products for yoga?

I noticed a gap in the market for functional products for the yoga consumer.  Most things were made from natural heavyweight fibres which are not suitable for busy bike commuters.  I was also aware of the growth of 'Athleisure' which continues to grow steadily so I was assured that the yoga consumer was keen to have something that not only worked but looked good also.

Where do you manufacture your products and how did you decide on this?

I spent 7 years working as a designer for several different companies with lots of different kinds of factories in the Far East.  Some factories were well run but others were not so much and this lack of continuity and sustainability frustrated me.  I became disillusioned at spending so much of my time emailing factories rectifying communication breakdowns and longed to have a factory I could visit locally.  I have manufactured all of my products to date in Ireland and it has not been easy.  Production prices are high and therefore retail costs are high.  Starting out I was adamant that I wanted local production but I have now come to terms with the fact that 'local' may have to mean 'within Europe'.

What are your tips on how to turn your idea into a product?

Learn as much as you can about the industry.  Although I am a qualified designer and have worked in industry for several years I interned with bag manufacturers to properly learn about bag construction and design.

Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. You need as much support as possible when deciding to pursue the road of self employment.  By getting to know people already in business this will let you see that your dreams can become a reality and keep you focused.

Find out about all the free stuff.  There is SO much going on in Belfast for startup businesses.  It is a matter of researching everything and attending multiple networking events.  There is free office space, mentorship, website development, courses etc.  It is just a matter of educating yourself and being aware of what is going on.