Hello and welcome to Fi Bourke Design!
My new website has been a long time coming, and I have always wanted a place where people could check out my work while at the same time getting to know me a bit better (I love to write so I will be updating this regularly) …
So let me begin, way back when I went to college in Limerick School of Art and Design and studied fashion but I never really felt sure of who I was in college or which avenue was for me (I wanted to work for myself, this was always a given) One thing from college that has always stayed with me, for better or worse, is something my tutor said to me on the very last day. A bit of context; I wasn’t the best student in college but looking back I’d like to think that my budding talent was at least a little bit obvious. “You’re not as good as you think you are and one day you will realise I am right”. Your probably thinking that’s a bloody awful thing to say and you’d be right, for a long time it affected me badly and I found myself floating aimlessly design wise but now it fuels my fire and I don’t hold any ill feeling towards her. I am now very confident in whom I am as a designer and as a person and I know that I will never let anyone have that kind of hold over me ever again.
My grandparents ran “PJ Bourke’s” , a famous costume shop on Dame St in Dublin for many years, dressing some of the biggest stars of the time; so it’s safe to say that sewing is in my blood. It was only when I started to design for Dublin drag queen Victoria Secret (who has since become one of my best friends) that I discovered my love for colour and eccentricity. Roughly 10 years ago (god I feel old now saying that) I took a huge chance and auditioned for Project Catwalk (the UK version of the hit US show which was shown on Sky One). I am pleased to say I am the only Irish person ever to make it onto that show, mainly because it only ran for three years, and I made it to week six before I got eliminated and sent packing. It was one hell of an experience and it taught me how to work well under pressure and deadlines, when they say it’s going to be a 24 hour challenge they aren’t kidding. To live in a house with other designers and live, eat and breathe making and designing garments- it gave me a drive and a focus I had never felt before. I came back home with a mission (a little defeated initially of course) to have a successful brand, my only problem was I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do.
I started pole dancing about 6 years ago and instantly fell in love with it, I had always wanted to try it and I loved how strong I felt even after the first few lessons; Terri Fierce was my teacher and at that time she was beginning to perform and compete with Lisette Krol. When it comes to competing for pole sport there are a lot of rules that must be adhered to, even for the costume, all the gluteal fold must be covered and no cleavage can be on show…. Terri and Lisette had never competed at this level before and needed something to wear so I thought well look I can sew, let’s see what I can create. Between the 3 of us we figured out the best way the pants should fit, and where the top should sit; this was all as new for me as it was for them so we just figured it out as we went along. They won The World title that year, as well as quite a few after that and everything literally took off from there, they were catapulted into almost celebrity status and naturally people were intrigued by what they wore on stage. I had found my niche. I took time to perfect my skill, working with stretch fabrics is not taught in college (or at least taught well) and I quickly learned the importance of the right fabrics, the right sewing machine and adapting to change quickly. I launched my brand roughly 3 years ago now and while it’s not always been easy I couldn’t have asked for any better, each week is different, challenging, and of course exciting. My mind is always on the go, it’s important not to rest for too long and I am always coming up with new designs, tweaking old designs, and adjusting patterns.
When I tell other people about my business I get mixed reactions – while I am very used to it now it’s still very frustrating. Last summer I was at a women’s entrepreneur event and we had to stand up and speak about our business’s, when I spoke I could hear giggles and under the breath comments coming from one side of the room. At the end of the evening one of the gigglers ended up sitting beside me and asked me was I “the girl who sews those outfits” and “do you make any money at all doing that” …. Firstly I knew she had had a little too much of the free wine, and secondly she was far too high and mighty. I annoyed myself by trying to justify my business to a semi pissed ignorant woman and in the end I just decided to leave and never return to an event like that again (it’s sad I thought at an event like that I would have felt at ease with other female entrepreneurs but in the end I walked away feeling very judged ) I am very open and honest about my love of pole, dance and the outfits I create for it, and I always encourage people to be open in return and answer any questions they might have.
I often say about pole .. If you’re not in the know, then you need to know… because more than likely its nothing like what you’re thinking it is. I like to work in a positive space, with positive people around me…..and I think my work definitely reflects that.
That’s all for now ..