Brown Thomas Arnotts has launched Pitch 23. A competition for Irish start-ups, small businesses, designers, makers and entrepreneurs based in either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland who operate within the area of fashion. The winning pitch will be given the opportunity to be placed in-store and online in Arnotts at Christmas and they will also receive a €10,000 business development fund.
- What is the company’s origin story in Ireland?
Arnotts is Ireland’s oldest and largest department store, it has held a special place in Dublin City’s cultural history for over 175 years. Today, Arnotts is home to an extraordinary range of fashion, beauty, design, homeware, restaurants and exciting pop-ups.
- Brown Thomas recently launched Pitch 23. Can you tell me what the competition is and who is it aimed towards?
Pitch’23 is an exciting Brown Thomas Arnotts initiative that calls on new and promising local Irish businesses to pitch for an opportunity to be in store and online in Arnotts. The winning business will also receive a €10,000 business development fund.
- Who are some of the judges that will be judging this year’s competitions? What criteria will they be judging on?
Applications will be reviewed and shortlisted to five finalists by an expert Brown Thomas Arnotts judging panel including Head of Enterprise Vena Doyle, Head of Digital Pippa Casey, Head of Sustainability Diana Geraghty and Head of Home & Lifestyle Buying Edel Woods. Businesswoman Hannah Saunders, founder of Hannah Saunders PR, will also be joining the judging panel this year. Applicants will be judged on the following criteria: uniqueness, design, quality, make-up and execution of their product or service, demonstration in creating and nurturing a sustainable future for Arnotts customers with their offering, proven direct to consumer sales channels, and the applicant’s vision for the future of their brand.
- What are the eligibility criteria for those interested in entering?
The competition welcomes entries from Irish start-ups, small businesses, designers, makers and entrepreneurs based in either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland who operate within the areas of fashion, beauty, jewellery, lifestyle, circular or technology. All entries must already have a product or range developed, or have an identified service proposition. Applicants must have the capacity to scale up production or manufacture for the Christmas trading period.
- What are the steps involved if someone is interested in entering this year?
Eligible entries must be submitted by Friday 28th April via the Pitch 23 website at –https://www.pitch.arnotts.ie/
- How important will sustainability and the environment be to the competition this year?
As mentioned, applications will be considered on how their brand will create and nurture a sustainable offering for Arnotts customers.
- In terms of the other aspects of Diversity and Inclusion, how are you targeting people with disabilities, or those from migrant backgrounds to enter the competition?
By reaching out to networks in the EDI field to highlight Pitch 23 within their own networks also. Thomas’s Trendy Socks was a Pitch finalist in 2021. The family-run business design fun, colourful socks for men, women and children. Thomas Barry was born with Down syndrome; the business was created out of his dream of one day having a job and expressing himself creatively.
- Do you have any success stories from previous years you can promote?
Gary and Ciara Malone, co-founders of Brushdoc, were the winners of last year’s Pitch ’22 competition: “Our business has been catapulted since we first applied for Pitch. The mentors assigned to us went above and beyond to help us with our areas of weakness. It was incredibly helpful”.
- Outside of the competition, are there any other fashion brands in Ireland in Diversity and Inclusion that you are big fans of?
Arnotts has previously partnered with childrenswear brand Sully & Juno, who specialise in sensory-friendly clothing for children.