Interview: POP RIOT with Aoife Costello

Derry’s fashion landscape will be getting a lovely revamp in the next few weeks with the opening of local entrepreneur, Aoife Costello’s business POP RIOT. Passionate about bringing something new and distinct to her growing customer base, Aoife has been working hard to take her business to the next level. Offering a range of services and products, POP RIOT’s online website has allowed customers to browse and buy from the comfort of their own home. However, with the brand going through a complete renovation customers will soon be able to peruse products in store.

The brands’ avant-garde, pop theme instils the feeling of rebellion against the conventional girly trends we see today and is reflected in the clothes, handbags and quirky accessories offered. Currently balancing both work and study, Aoife explains where the inspiration for her business came from  “Since being in retail I have always been fashion conscious, consistently keeping up to date with trends I am never done updating my own wardrobe. I suppose that instigated my passion to start my own retail business.”

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Previously studying for her undergraduate degree in sociology and psychology, it was while working part-time in Topshop that fuelled her love for fashion. Yet, never deterred from her academic studies, Aoife went on to study for her masters which she is currently completing. With a strong background in retail and fashion as well as academia there was an element of doubt on whether to pursue teaching or start her own business. However, once her online business began to take off there was no going back. “Honestly, being at Uni whilst working part -time as a teenager had me constantly wavering in decisions. I was torn between teaching and launching my own business, however once my online business flourished, it definitely validated my hopes for the future.”

Spending a lot of time brainstorming for the perfect name Aoife originally came up with the idea of ‘Queenz Dreamz’ before settling on ‘Royal Riot’ to initially launch her business. However, when going to register the name she soon discovered that it was practically impossible to register a business with the word Royal without permission. Taking this in her stride she met with her PR manager, Lorna and after some consulting they decided on POP RIOT as the official name of the business. Using online and social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to originally introduce her brand to an audience, Aoife was overwhelmed by the response. “Since I launched POP RIOT as a brand the response has been overwhelming. People are incredibly supportive and their ongoing support means a great deal.”

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After watching the success of her online business and her following on social media grow, Aoife decided it was time to take her business one step further. Approaching a local investment company she pitched her idea, where they noted the passion she had for her brand. The investment company then, subsequently, decided to help her build her business by providing her with a kick-start loan. An incredibly hard working and determined individual Aoife explains that it has been tough at times to balance everything “Balancing both work and study is most certainly challenging at times, especially with my dissertation underway. However, I’m extremely lucky to have such a strong network of support from family and friends. Future goals keep me focused and undeterred but it’s important to have help”.

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Proving, that if you want something and are dedicated you can achieve it regardless of the obstacles, Aoife’s success has been a direct result of hard-work and determination. As someone who strongly believes that if you want something hard enough you can do anything you want, Aoife explains, “I feel that if you have the determination to see it through, then there are resources that can be utilised in the town that allow you to do this. Companies such as Invest N.I, run a ‘go for it’ programme that enables aspiring entrepreneurs to excel in their passion. The support is there, however people must be made aware that it’s available.”

Aiming to not only create a store but a strong inclusive brand, Aoife hopes to provide both great customer service and great products while including customers in the POP RIOT world. Recently welcoming blogger, Angelina Kelly, and make-up artist Catriona Fleming the store will offer the full POP RIOT experience to customers both in and outside of the store. Despite, only being in operation for a short time POP RIOT is already proving incredibly successful. The brand’s unconventional transfusion of quirky and fun accessories along with its bold clothing has helped set it apart it from other shops, giving it a unique edge. POP RIOT will open on Waterloo Street on Saturday 17th of June, be sure not to miss out.

-Aine Cronin-McCartney