Orla Kiely – It will be OK

Orla Kiely – It will be OK

Hi there

Thanks for popping in.

Heard the sad news that the Design House of Orla Kiely has gone into liquidation. Who? I hear you ask. Well, you may not know the name, but you will certainly recognise the designs – they’re everywhere! She is known by many as the Queen of prints…

Even our lovely Kate enjoyed the brand…

Now I don’t know the ins and outs of why the business crashed, and I will take everything I read in the papers with a pinch of salt, because let’s face it – how many journalists know how to run a business, let alone analyse the demise of one? All I know is that a successful, popular brand just sank – and took a whole lot of people down with it – not least the woman at the top: Orla Kiely. And that – particularly for a kindred businesswoman – is sobering at the very least, and frightening too. The thought alone that this could happen to Clarity ( and let’s not kid ourselves – NOBODY is bulletproof ) certainly makes me pause for thought.

So, I decided to come up to my little artroom above the garage, and spend an hour or so alone, thinking about her, about her career, about her success and the accolade she has enjoyed over the last however many years. Did you know that Orla started out as a hat designer? So out with our own hat designs, illustrated by Melanie.

I found a piece of old inky scrap which had Orla’s colours, and then I dug out the little hat stamps, together with a few poignant words from the wordchains.


Hats 2

I love these stamps.

So whilst we stamp …

….and mask;

…build our picture

and add appropriate words…

just 2 – Beauty and Strength.

then inject a little colour with brushes

and pencils, let me tell you what is going through my head.

I remember many years ago, sitting in an accountant’s office. I remember it as if it were yesterday, because he said to me, “The best thing you can do is go into voluntary liquidation”. Gulp.

I remember my response too: “What kind of a bloody solution is that? That does NOT work for me.”

And he shrugged his shoulders. I remember that so well. He didn’t give a shit.

So I got rid of that accountant, told nobody – and started pedalling harder than ever. With the help of a few good people, I worked through that nightmare, one day at a time. But WORK was the operative word. I didn’t have as much to lose as Orla, of course. But our home was on the line, and our livelihood.

I guess that situation, even though we worked our way through it and out of it, it stays with you, like a little pebble in your shoe. I don’t talk about it, but it defines me as a businesswoman, it really does. Keeps me on my toes, makes me work hard. Never want to get in that arena again.

And whilst there are no guarantees, hard work, a good team, calculated risks combined with a prudent reserve and a comparatively modest lifestyle all contribute to staying away from that cliff edge.

When I read that the staff couldn’t be paid at Orla Kiely’s company, that’s the one. That’s the death knell. When it went wrong in my world, there were only 3 of us. But even that was excruciating.

I have added OK here. Ironically, those are Orla Kiely’s initials. She doesn’t know me. We have never met and I cannot assume that things will be OK for her. My God! Look what happened to Kate Spade!

But one thing I do know for sure: it is not the event, but how you react to it which will ultimately affect you.

And I speak from experience.

Love & Hugs,



36 thoughts on “Orla Kiely – It will be OK

  1. Such a a shame when a business falls by the wayside. As you say affects so many people and must be a very emotional time for the founder. Very pleased for all our sakes that you ignored that accountant, we would not have the lovely community that is Clarity. I have never owned a business but Fred and I have faced him being made redundant five times during his working years. That makes you stronger especially when there are children to be kept housed and fed. Very good at tightening our belts when needed. xx

  2. So glad you didn’t take that stupid advice. You are right, hard work and reliable support can turn things round, you just have to have the will power to survive. Sadly not everyone is able to do this.
    Great project with the hats – I haven’t got them yet but I may just indulge next time I order.
    Feet up doing my picot cutting today – slow and careful – and plan to put on my pinny and get grungy tomorrow.
    Happy crafting all.

  3. Afternoon bloggy friends, rainy here so I’m crafting and trying to start a few long term projects. One is going well and one may well be going out the window! Xx

  4. Love the artwork. It just goes to show that we don’t always know what is heading for us in life. One always hopes that everything will be ok but unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
    With more strong winds forecast for tonight I hope everyone stays safe.

  5. So glad you got through the difficult times. Where would we be without Clarity? Maybe richer but nowhere near as happy!!! I love Clarity and admire hugely what you have achieved. Long live Clarity. Xx

  6. Lovely artwork Barbara. You have such a good philosophy and never sit on your laurels. Also, you have a good team behind you because you inspire their loyalty and dedication by giving out that example. You always make an effort to touch base with people too, and inspire people to make beautiful, creative things with the goods you make and sell.

    You have built a company that has ethical ideals and people know when they buy Clarity/Groovi/Pergamano/ Fresh Cut, they are getting quality – top notch.

    Every time I come to a show or retreat, the ethos of your company shines out. I for one am so happy you didn’t listen to that accountant!

  7. I must admit I have never heard of the lady but I am really sad that this has happened to her. Your blog made me cry today but what a lovely person you are Barbara to care so much about other people.

  8. If only we could predict the future what a wonderful world it would be eh? Soooo glad you kicked that accountant into touch – funny isn’t it how easily they give out advice like that isn’t it – bet he would have made sure he got his money before he sent you to the dogs – a world without Clarity – doesn’t bear thinking about really. You can tell a lot about a company by looking at the Boss – and what a wonderful person that lady is. Long live Clarity Stamp. Xxxxx

  9. Evening Barbara. Its very sad when any company comes to an end. Its the staff that I feel most sorry for as they are often powerless to do anything but they rely on that company for their livelihoods! So sad!
    It must be very thought provoking for you. I can always tell by the way you write and by the way you feel the need to make a piece of artwork… Its beautiful by the way.
    I hope you have a relaxing evening. Love and hugs.

  10. I have never owned a business and am never likely to. My brain just doesn’t tick that way. I do appreciate however the dedication and hard work that has to go in to make it a success. I think perhaps a good dose of humility and respect for others is essential to survival. I’m sure you have to be ever mindful that a few strokes of bad luck and wrong decisions can see you on your uppers. I often think of how easy it is to become homeless. Someone loses their job, their marriage and their home. If there are no friends or relatives to help, where do you turn? We must be ever grateful for the small things in life and remember that we are all human and can fall on bad times.

  11. So sad for the company. We can empathise. Been made redundant and house etc on the line, with three little ones. You are right, it stays with you but you have to get up and keep working and fighting.
    Best wishes to one and all now and for the future
    Anne (Reading)

  12. It’s so sad when a business goes to the wall, you really feel for the owner and their staff, in fact everyone affected by it, I know the designs you’ve shown but must admit I hadn’t heard of Orla Kiely. What a lovely piece of artwork you’ve made using the hat stamps. So glad you had the guts to carry on after what your then accountant said. My goodness a world without Clarity doesn’t bare thinking about. xxx

  13. I know from being your friend that you would be more devasted for your Staff than for yourself in this situation. Apparently she became “too good” too popular and less exclusive. People didn’t want to walk into someones house and their outfit match the kettle. Whereas I would think that is great!!! Its Snobbery, fashion and furnishings have always met in the middle, so not so sure this is true. Its really sad for her employees and sad that such a Design Icon couldn’t be saved???

  14. Aye Barb, sad day for all involved.
    As always, when you are emotional, you produce some amazing pieces of artwork, and this piece today is no exception.

    There is a reason we don’t know what our futures hold… And, it’s for the best, that’s for sure.

    I faced that, in a different way though. For me, a good career I’d worked hard at, plus working on a degree part time, mortgage, car, etc., seriously working out which direction I wanted to be headed in, then literally, overnight my physical health was taken from me, and my mental health which had also been on a gradual decline was reaching crisis point. Despite my bestest fight/effort to return to that life, it proved to be the end of my life as I knew it. I had all the money worries, and what’s going to happen to me etc. especially with being totally on my own in the world. Over 25 years later, yes I’m still ill, yes I also got my autism diagnosis, yes I’m still fighting to get the help and support I should be having and deserve. But, I’m still here, doing my best with every day, even though often that doesn’t add up to much, still fighting on so that when I get the help I can really live, and make a difference in the world in some small way, if I can.

    So yes, none of us know what’s round the corner, and the worst can happen to the most successful/least deserving person on the planet. BUT, we all have it in us to fight on and make the most of the situation, make the most of the new chapter in our life. To, find the positives, and things to feel happy about, have fun, see the good etc., it may be much harder to do, but they are there. IF, you truly want it, and are prepared to fight with all your might every day. That is the choice each of us has if/when God throws you a big test in your life.

    Like you say Barb, we all should do our best to live our life a day at a time, focus on making that day the best it can be, not only for ourselves, but for others too, in any way we can.

    Love you xxx

    1. Your words are so true Brenda, you certainly have the knack of spelling it out. Lovely to see you on here, you were well missed.xxx

  15. Hi bloggy friends, hope everything is ok with you and you haven’t been affected with all this wind and rain. Isn’t it great that we can craft when we have this inclement weather, which is what I’ve been doing for the better part of the day. Been having my fix of Groovi making Linda Williams Trees. Stay warm and dry everyone.xxx

  16. That’s very sad when a persons life work just falls apart, I’m glad you were able to pull yourself through and didn’t listen cause we’re eould we all be with out you and are clarity family love you all and pray for that lady and family to get through that hard time xxx

  17. I too am gutted. I love Orla Kiely designs & have mugs, bin & storage tins in my kitchen. There are so many cheap copies of her designs now though.
    I reckon that Clarity customers know the quality & price of your stock is constantly elite. I’ve spotted copies of SU metal dies & stamps that can be bought for a fraction of the price online from China, whereas you manufacture your products in-house.
    Keep up the good work guys ’cause I, for one, do not want to see you going anywhere.👍

  18. Hello Barbara – a sad day, another company gone. We are living in very hard times as companies fight tooth and nail to survive. As usual Barbara your insight and wise words are very thought provoking. Your company Barbara is where it is because of you, your strength, that wonderful spirit of yours and your passion for what you do. I work in retail and the company I work for is now all about money and profit. Keep doing what you and your team are doing Barbara, lots of love and hugs to you Donna X

  19. Hi Barbara
    You are right Barbara I know the designs but not the name. What a sad day, your blog is very thought provoking and your artwork is beautiful. I am so glad you ignored the accountant many years ago, life would be very dull without you.
    Love Diane xxx

  20. Hi Barbara
    Well your blog today is very very thought provoking
    I never like to see any company having to declare bankruptcy and I feel for her and all that are affected by this
    I have never run a company but I like a lot of people I have sometimes wondered how I would make ends meet form one week to the next
    Lost count of the times we struggled to pay the mortgage. But like you say one day at a time
    Tomorrow is never given and we should take stock of our actions and be a bit kinder.
    I worked from being 14 years old I remember my first wage packet for the week being £6.
    Showing my age now eh. Lol
    On a brighter note I received your beautiful artwork this morning it will take pride of place in my crafty space An I ask you a favour though.
    The next time I see you either at a show or at a retreat will you sign them for me ?
    Right I’m waffling now so I will wish you and yours a wonderful weekend. Hugs 🤗 T xx

  21. Sad when a company goes down as it effects so many.
    I’m pleased to hear you ditched your accountant and didn’t listen as clarity is one amazing company with wonderful amazing products I wouldn’t have learned so much without clarity and the groovi wouldn’t have been made long May your company keep going .
    Love and hugs xxx

    1. Love and hugs to all on the blog
      I take baby steps each day my crafting keeps me going Everytime I get diagnosed with something else I adapt my crafting to help me cope either my groovi ,colouring ,stamping ,now my dies it’s clarity all the way xxxx

  22. Wise words Barb. Nobody knows what life will throw at us and when others are dependant on us we can only hope all our i’s are dotted, our t’s crossed and our loins well girded.

  23. It is very sad when any company goes under Barbara, but so pleased that you turned things around and have made Clarity what it is today through hard work and determination. Who knows, maybe Orla will come back in the future. I love your thought provoking card with these fabulous hats too, you are one very clever lady, and a great business woman too! x

  24. I was sad to read about Orla Kiely and sad for the staff. My husband went though the ordeal of arriving at work to be turned away and finding that his pay cheque just bounced. It was really hard. So glad you ignored the accountant and are finding a way to build up your range prudently (I love that word)

    I love your products but I am a cautious person by nature so tend to buy bit by bit as the day that paycheck bounced has stayed with me for the last 20 years, I should change my name to Prudence.

  25. Sobering thoughts Barbara. So glad you didn’t take accountant’s advice, but knowing you I am sure you would have picked up and rebuilt even if it had all gone pear shaped. It reminds me of the saying “a womanew is like a teabag. You don’t know how strong she is until she’s in hot water ”
    Feeling a bit like the myself at the moment with my shoulder fracture, but I know I’ll get there. It was one week ago today so I’m one week nearer getting the use of my arm back.
    Was delighted that my Christmas dies arrived yesterday. Am now going to work out my technique for one-handed crafting using my Gemini – wish me luck!!

  26. Hello Barb, another heartfelt and serious lesson. Thank heavens you never gave in! I hope that for Orla Kiely, things will work out, and for her staff that there will be other jobs. Never give up, even though it feels like the hill is too steep to climb. Take care all. Bx

  27. As a great fan of Orla Kiely designs i feel very sad for the loss of such talent in our world. Sometimes talent is just not enough. A very serious lesson to learn is never be complaisent.

  28. Such a sad day for her and all her team. None of us can take anything for granted in these changing times can we? I just wish Mrs May would bring in a skilled business negotiator into the EU discussions, rather than relying on politicians who only seem to be good at mud-slinging! I love what you have done with the hat stamps, and I must have a little play with them again soon x

  29. But remember one thing Barbara, you can’t spend 23 Bob in the pound. That was my Dads mantra. But you were blessed with artistic ability, born with business acumen that can’t be taught & bloody common sense. That’s the ability that’s kept you going. And may you reign for many More years otherwise we’ll all go down the Swanee lol

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