West Belfast woman uses her creative spark to launch her own design business

By Orlaith Clinton

A Belfast woman who has launched her own brand since leaving education is causing a stir in the creative industry.

Claudia Maxwell, from the west of the city, says she has always been into the arts from a young age.

The 23-year-old's work was in such demand she moved the business, Claudia Maxwell Designs, into its own space on the Springfield Road.

Her studio is full of colour and personality from the moment you walk through her bright pink door.

Claudia's space to work (Justin Kernoghan)

Speaking to Belfast Live, she said: "I have always been creative and always would have won art competitions in school so I went on to study Art and Technology and went on to university to study Fashion Textiles at University of Ulster.

"In my final year, my tutor asked if anyone wanted to use the laser cutting machine and I offered myself up for it because I'd always wanted to use it. From then I just started, for my final collection, making earrings and bags. Once I graduated I felt like there were no jobs in the creative industry which appealed to me.

"There was just nothing and was a bit of an anti climax so I decided that I wanted to buy my own laser cutting machine. It was huge and ended up in every room of the house but it was just too big. It didn't work.

Some of the Claudia Maxwell Designs pieces (Justin Kernoghan)

"I live down the street and decided to check out Blackstaff Mill and found this studio. I knew what I wanted for the room, I wanted my logo, rainbows on the wall, all sorts of colour because that's what I am into. It represents me."

Claudia's work has been picked up on Instagram and TikTok by people across the UK.

She designs and creates necklaces, earrings, bags, mirrors and more - all personalised at the customer's request.

Each item is made to order and down to the very packaging, Claudia's vibrant style shines through.

Claudia added: "Through Covid is when I got the studio because I wanted my own space to create. Every day is different, I get so many different orders. Recently it is bags and last year it was more the earrings.

Claudia with one of her pieces of work (Justin Kernoghan)

"My family are so supportive. My wee granda helps me out with the post and he's always coming down to the studio. My friends, family and my boyfriend have just been there for me throughout. They're always supporting me throughout my work.

"And I am so appreciative of everyone who orders from me. It is crazy to think people are ordering my work.

"Orders differ every week but I do see an increase towards the end of the month, towards pay day. One day I had 50 orders, which really did blow me away.

"Once someone makes an order, I'll give it three to five days. I draw the design and then I pass it to the laser cutter which cuts the plastic. I then assemble everything. I then add the personalised touch to it all.

"It does make me really proud when I see people out and about wearing my work. In school people would say that I'd need to move to London to pursue a creative career - but I love Belfast so knew I wanted to make it work here."

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