Designer Profiles: Sylph Designs | A/W’17 Showcase

Here at the Galway Designer’s Network, we would like you all to get to know our designers a little better. This is the fifth installment in a series of blog posts relating to the designers who will be taking part in the upcoming A/W’17 Showcase in Tribeton on September 9th. Keep an eye out on the blog and on our social media channels over the next few weeks and get to know our designers before the Big Day.

Kaisa Holsting – Sylph Designs


Who are you & what kind of designer are you?

I’m Kaisa, 31 years old, a turquoise-haired freelance graphic designer / rocker chick by day, loads of other things during the rest of the time. I’m originally from Estonia, recently moved to Ireland. In terms of fashion design I do jewellery design mostly; my specialty is either beaded multi-practical and functional pieces (things you could wear as 2in1 pieces) or pixelart creations (e.g. pixel-jewelry) made out of fused beads. The latter is quite unknown in most parts of the world, especially in the grown-up department!


What sparked your interest with jewellery?

For me, it started off out of necessity. I couldn’t find from the jewellery stores the kind of stuff that would’ve gone well together with my own unique style and taste and therefore figured that I’d need to create it myself. That’s where it all got started.


Are you self-taught or did you study fashion design?

I’ve never studied fashion design, so I’d have to say that I’m self-taught. Nowadays it’s so easy to find tutorials on the internet to try out and modify once you get skilled enough. Just takes a bit of patience and practice!

via Silver Wolfie


What made you take your talent more seriously and want to make a career out of it?

Once I had started creating jewellery for myself and made it a “hip” new thing to wear out and about my friends and strangers started asking about those. So soon enough I felt like I had tapped into something that wasn’t there yet and that gave me the confidence that there are more people out there that are a bit more colourful, unconventional and like quirky jewellery, rather than the classical. Before I knew it my head was spinning with new ideas that I wanted to try out and the brand Sylph Designs was born.

via Penelope Russak

What is your aesthetic?

I love bold, confident, colourful jewellery. Being a quirky and unconventional woman myself I love to surround myself with geekery and colours. However, I want to emphasize that being whimsy doesn’t mean that you have to look like a fool. I rather like to mix and match jewellery and show to others that it’s OK to be different, to be true to yourself and to not be afraid of a little whimsy and colour every now and then. After all, we all have a little kid hidden inside of ourselves as well.


What inspired this collection? What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?

Looking at it from a distance, it sure looks like I was inspired by the kid’s cartoon “Frozen”. Coming from a country (Estonia) where snow is definitely not a rare thing to see and the pure fields of ice and cold weather is a completely normal part of winter. I think that’s where the inspiration came from as well. I love geekery, pixelart, retro computer games, but I also love beautiful colour combinations, different shades of blues and whites and also the contradictions that go together with it. Life isn’t 50 shades of grey (though wouldn’t most women love that as well!); to me it’s rather a beautiful mix of bright and bold colours. Mix classical with retro, smooth lines with pixelated creations and you’ll get where I’m coming from.


How has your work evolved since you began your own label?

To be honest I think I’ve stayed true to myself since the beginning. Even though Sylph Designs began as a brand that did mostly pixel-jewellery, it’s now moved onto the wonderful world of beadweaving and beaded jewellery. I love trying out different things. And I do realize as well that looking from outside in it might occasionally even feel like I’m one big contradiction but why would anyone bind themselves into a box. If you can, always draw lines also outside of the box – colour outside of the lines! Life is more fun like that!


What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?

There are two things that I greatly value: Firstly, always stay true to who you are. I feel that I’m the core of my business, the main character in the designs and I believe that the only way to gain more audience is to be who you are. Be yourself! And secondly, branding is everything. Having a background in graphic design has helped me a lot to build up a branding around my different ventures in the jewellery business as well. Pixel-jewelry and beaded jewellery have different feels to them, therefore the brands are a bit different as well. Pixel-jewelry has a bit of a geeky flare, pixelart and computer games being a huge inspiration and beaded jewellery pieces are more classic. There is though one big thing that connects them both: COLOUR!


Describe your creative process.

My pixel-jewellery is hugely inspired by old computer games and the book that I wrote a year ago, “Bead it. Iron it. Love it.” – released in UK, USA, Estonia, Sweden, Poland and some other countries. That’s the place where I live out my kid-like fantasies. Once I’ve got an idea what I wish to create, I sketch the ideas down, fiddle around in my computer trying to nail down the pattern and then create it. My beaded jewellery is more about what kind of materials I feel like using. Each type of bead has different possibilities. Twin-beads do one thing, seed beads help you create another kind of thing and mixing them all together to create beautiful beaded ball beads is a third kind of use case. For those, I really do my research and then tweak the designs until I’m happy with it.


How do you get unstuck creatively?

Ah, that’s a big thing for all creatives I guess. I’ve tried out a lot of different things over the years. Being a bit of an impatient soul that loves doing a bit of this and that and then some I usually just switch out every now and then the activities that I’m doing. If I feel like drawing, I draw, if I feel like beading, I bead, if I feel like doing pixelart, I do pixelart. In addition to the jewellery business I always have the option to do music, sing, create some digital art, some traditional art, draw, write poems and journal. I guess keeping a daily journal is the core of it all. That’s what helps me from getting stuck, getting thoughts on paper and to keep moving. Changing hair colour every now and then also doesn’t harm!

via Penelope Russak


What questions do you ask yourself before you begin any design project?

I usually don’t ask anything, I dive in right away overly enthusiastic. Ok, in all fairness, if there’s one thing to ask then this is it: do I have the materials that I need to bring my ideas to life? That’s all!


How do you stay organized when trying to design and create while balancing family or other work related responsibilities?

That’s a tough one. I think there’s a weird madness to all of this creativity. I try not to plan too much, clean up too much, organize too much, work too much, but a simple daily/weekly to-do list helps to keep things moving. But you know what they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. So I’ve learned to not be too harsh on myself if I can’t make everything happen in time, I prioritize creativity over planning and staying organized because when you lose creativity and get stuck in the “I have to do this” thing, then you’re screwed. It’s hard coming back from being burnt out.


How do you feel about the current state if the fashion industry?

It feels a bit like people are moving towards extremes, like the world, in general. It’s either too over the top, too over-priced for the value you get or you end up wearing garments or jewellery that’s cheap and poorly made. I wish there were more appreciation towards custom-made jewellery and clothes and that people wouldn’t take these crafts just for granted. You can’t compare a handcrafted item with something you buy from the mall. Not if it’s made with lots of love and care.


Where do you see your brand expanding to?

I think for me it’s honestly just moving towards the same direction I always have been. Just doing what I love and staying true to that. As long as there are enough crazy gals out there like me there will be a market for that as well. I’m not trying to make mainstream stuff, so let’s not even try pretending that this is what will happen in the end. I’ll continue adding variety, come up with new quirky patterns and continue to hope that the women around me find more courage in themselves to stay true to their unique style and be bold enough to wear more colour.


What advice would you give to young designers?

Stay true to yourself and do whatever your heart wants to do with the utmost passion and conviction. Don’t let others tell you what you can do or who you should be. It’s hard, trust me, I know but if you’re being YOU, then nobody can take anything away from you. And please-please-please, don’t settle or start following the mainstream flow. You’ll do better staying in your own quirky lane. And who cares if it’s the right or the left lane or the bus lane instead.



All other imagery via Kaisa Holsting


Kaisa will be taking part in the GDN A/W Showcase on September 9th in Tribeton. There will be 3 individual showcases throughout the day:

Jewellery Design at 2pm

Millinery at 4pm

Clothing Design at 6pm.

Tickets for individual shows are priced at €15, or grab yourself a bundle ticket for €35 and spend the day in Tribeton, where you can enjoy 20% off all food all day or shop the Pop Up Market featuring all of the designers collections.  Your ticket will entitle you to a glass of prosecco, a goodie bag specific to the show and a front row seat.  If you want to get your hands on a ticket, go online via or head directly to Tribeton. There will also be a limited amount of standing tickets available for each show, but you must register your interest via prior to September 9th.


The Galway Designers Network  is a group of talented designers looking to create exciting clothing and accessories to ensure you can support your local fashion industry and keep up to date with the latest fashion looks and we are looking to make our own mark in the fashion retail sector. Our current project the Galway Designers Studio House has been established by Ann Petrov of Cozy Handmade Designs and Gayle Poppers of Kizmet Clothing but they need your help to make their dream a reality. Follow the Galway Designers Studio House Facebook Page  to read all about the project and how you can take part.

The Galway Designers Network are always looking for new and exciting designers or anyone who feels they would love to be involved. Get in touch by commenting below, via Facebook @galwaydesignersnetwork, via Instagram @galway_designersnetwork or email