Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker’s baby Rocky receives bespoke jacket from Armagh designer Niamh McCarthy

From designing a jacket for Kourtney Kardashian’s baby to meeting up with A-list fashion designer Michael Bush, it has been a crazy year for Niamh McCarthy - and it’s not even the end of January

Niamh in a yellow blazer, holding the baby sized leather jacket. There is a skull and roses embroidered on the jacket.
Niamh with the special Kardashian commissioned jacket.

Co Armagh designer Niamh McCarthy can add a Kardashian to her client list after she was commissioned to design a bespoke jacket for Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker’s new baby last September. Rocky Thirteen was born on November 1.

Announcing the news on New Year’s Eve, Niamh’s 2024 got off to a busy start to say the least.

“I was going to hold off until they posted a picture of the baby in the jacket but it goes up to 18 months so you could be waiting until November 2025.

“Everyone was putting up their New Year’s Eve round up and I just thought I’d cash in then and join in,” she laughs.

Having studied fashion and textiles at the University of Ulster Niamh started her online embroidery business in 2019, working out of her parents’ garage.

Brides in leather

The company, Niamh Designs, specialises in bespoke faux leather jackets which have proven particularly popular amongst brides.

“I’ve always loved colour and really crazy clothes, my mum is very fashionable, there’s no such thing as beige in her wardrobe and the same with my granny the brighter the better which is where the interest in fashion comes from,” Niamh explains.

“Originally when I started the business a woman locally had come and asked if I could do a kid’s leather jacket personalised for her daughter and I did that and put it up on Instagram and received a really good response.

“Then from that somebody else came to me and asked if I could do a leather jacket for her wedding and at the time, I couldn’t understand why but she sent me some pictures through from her wedding day and they were out of this world, absolutely beautiful and that’s when I knew that was the product I had been looking for.”

The backs of a bride and groom walking in a garden. Bride is wearing a black leather jacket with the moon and stars embroidered on it and the words "to the moon and back".
Bride wearing a Niamh Designs jacker photo by Beth Beresford.

Since switching her focus to a more niche market Niamh and her team have gone on to become a market leader in the world of leather jacket embroidery and ship 90% of their products to the USA.

“I definitely wasn’t the first person to bring out leather jackets for weddings, but I’ve definitely taken a big chunk of the market now.”

Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Baker welcomed baby Rocky in 2023

The jacket designed for baby Rocky included the Barker surname embroidered across the back of the jacket along with a floral skull embellishment, which was ordered, designed, made and shipped off to Los Angeles in less than four days.

“I got the email on the Sunday but because the email came for LA there was a time difference, so I woke up on the Monday morning to the email and I was panicking because I’d missed it.

“I emailed back immediately and said, ‘yes absolutely I can do this’ and they got back to me on the Monday evening and they said, ‘ok we will place the order but we need this in LA on Friday’.

“So that meant I literally had to get the jacket, design it and embroider it all on Tuesday and the Jacket had to leave on Wednesday afternoon to make sure it was in LA for the Friday.”

Although Niamh and her team were successful in getting the jacket to LA for Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker’s Baby Shower it was a close call.

“It was very stressful, we actually made two jackets because I wasn’t happy with the first jacket so we made another one.

“The one that went to LA was exceptional and I was really happy with it but we had to do a sample jacket which I still have and will probably hold on to,” she said.

Baby sized leather jacket. The is a skull on the back of the jacket with floral embroidery around it.
Niamh Designs commissioned jacket for Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker's baby Rocky.

The Kardashian commission is the latest success in the entrepreneur’s evident winning streak. However she says her greatest achievement to date was being named Young Businesswoman of the Year at the Women in Business Awards in 2023.

“I went to the Women in Business Awards in 2018 and it was just before I was self-employed, and I had seen the girl who won young businesswoman of the year and I remember just sitting there and thinking it was just the most amazing thing to have achieved.

“That was literally my biggest dream and when they called out my name I genuinely got so emotional - it really was the greatest achievement of my life, and it was the first real bit of recognition I ever received.

Image of Niamh McCarthy in a sparkly gold dress holding her Young Woman in business award - which is red and circular.
Niamh McCarthy was named Young Businesswoman of the Year at the Women in Business Awards

“When you’re running a small business it’s so tough especially when you’re starting out, everything’s against you and just to receive that recognition was absolutely incredible.”

Niamh’s success has also led to her attracting the attention of designer Michael Bush, who is responsible for many of pop star Michael Jackson’s iconic costumes.

“Michael Bush was aware of my work, he had expressed an interest in it and he was in Ireland for a few days last week because he was on route to meet the team from MJ the musical which is coming to the West End.

“He reached out to me after he seen the jacket I did for Kourtney Kardashian and we met up last Monday and he gave me some great advice about breaking into the industry and I’m just so grateful for it,” Niamh continues.

“He’s probably the most inspirational person I’ve ever met, I’ve never related to anybody more in my life.

Niamh McCarthy with designer Michael Bush. Niamh is wearing one of Michael's designs - a sparkly sequin jacket.
Niamh McCarthy with designer Michael Bush.

“Which sounds absolutely mad because he made jackets for Michael Jackson, but he said he made just over 1,100 jackets across his career, mostly for Michael Jackson but he also made some for Elizabeth Taylor and lots of other celebrities.

“We’ve made over 3,000 at this stage and although they’re nowhere near as detailed as Michael Bush’s to actually meet him and hear his story has just filled me with so much encouragement, I was so delighted to meet him.”

Safe to say the beginning of 2024 will be difficult for Niamh to top, however, never one to rest on her laurels she has big plans for the rest of the year.

“It’s going to be a big year for us with Taylor Swift coming to Ireland in June we always do lots of concert jackets, festival wear is going to be really big this year.

“I’m also really proud because we have just placed a really big order with my manufacturer and we’re now going to have jackets from UK 8 – UK 24 which is a massive expanse and it’s going to really propel the business this year to the next level which is very exciting.”