‘If a piece is not good enough to hang on our walls, it’s not good enough for our customers’

Inside Track: Julie McLoughlin, Jando

Jando is an award-winning printmaking studio founded by husband-and-wife team Julie and Owen McLoughlin. Jando creates an original range of architectural-inspired fine-art prints in their Dublin studio. Here we speak to Julie McLoughin.

What sets your business apart from the competition?

We create high-quality prints which resonate with our customers. We are fortunate that we have a very loyal customer base who have really enjoyed following our story.

All our pieces are hand-illustrated, screen printed and produced in-house by Owen and myself. We also inspect, sign and package every single print that leaves our studio.

Jando is 100 per cent Irish and we source all our materials locally within the island of Ireland. All our frames are handmade in Ireland with wood sourced from sustainably managed forests and all of our prints come packaged in clear protective sleeves made from corn starch which are 100 per cent biodegradable.

What was the best piece of business advice you ever received?

To believe in myself and to listen to my gut instinct. The result of this advice is that we create our work for ourselves. It sounds selfish but it’s a method of quality control. If the final piece is not good enough to hang on our walls then it’s not good enough for our customers and it goes in the bin.

And your major success to date?

Taking Jando back to the NY Now trade fair in New York last August was as though things had come full circle. Jando began when we got married in New York and created our own wedding stationery, the centrepiece being a 40-page hand-stitched hardback book with a hollowed out secret compartment stuffed with wedding goodies.

We’ve won several awards over the last few years and I’ve been nominated for the Image Business Woman of the Year awards two years in a row – a huge honour. We have also worked on some rewarding collaborations with the likes of Trinity College, Jameson whiskey and Battersea Power Station.

Who do you most admire in business and why?

I have great respect for Orla Kiely. She built a successful global lifestyle brand with her husband and it all started at her kitchen table. She is one of our country's greatest exports. I had huge sympathy when her business went into administration. Her pattern work may not be to everyone's taste, but it was hugely influential and instantly recognisable. I felt some of the backlash against her was very cruel and uncalled for.

Following the experience of the financial crash, are the banks in Ireland now open for business to SMEs?

We really couldn't say. We self-financed in the beginning and continue to reinvest in our business. Dublin City LEO and the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland have offered us invaluable support over the years.

What one piece of advice would you give the Government to help stimulate the economy?

I think the economy is already overstimulated and the Government should be ashamed of themselves for prioritising big business over the preservation of our cultural and creative communities.

Dublin has always been a city that has embraced art, culture and creativity but there is a greyness seeping into the city whereby it’s becoming increasingly difficult and expensive for independent artists to gain access to event and retail spaces, creative and design studios, and late-night venues.

We were so angry when we heard that the Dublin Flea Christmas Market was forced to cancel their market this coming Christmas. This market was a fully functioning European-standard market, full of independent Irish businesses, run by great people and with almost 100,000 punters who had €3.5 million in their pockets to spend on Irish products.

We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the Dublin Flea Market and the exposure it gave us. Markets like this bring people together, they provide an artistic outlet for makers and allow a social community to thrive. We need to nurture them, not bulldoze them.

What’s been the biggest challenge you have had to face?

Jando started out as a part-time job for both of us, so juggling full-time jobs and running Jando at the same time was extremely challenging at the beginning. I think Brexit is also going to be extremely challenging. If they leave with no deal it’s going to be a disaster for both countries.

How do you see the short-term future for your business?

We have just moved into a new studio in the Chocolate Factory and we’ve had an amazing year working with the likes of Trinity College Dublin, Tullamore Dew and the Kilkenny shop. We’re getting into Christmas mode now and 2020 promises to be even busier with lots of exciting projects and collaborations already lined up. We are very optimistic about the future.

What’s your business worth and would you sell it?

It was never a conscious decision to start our own business. We were handed a baton and we ran with it. Jando is as intertwined in us as we are in it and is not for sale, at any price.