URATA Gembutiene was born into dressmaking - her parents and grandparents were all dressmakers and tailors.
Even when her father lost his hand in the war, he still passed his knowledge onto Urata. She first started making clothes for dolls at the age of nine and had her first client at the age of 14.
Urata learned all her skills from her parents, and once her first daughter, Ruta, was born she went to study dressmaking and received a higher diploma in it.
Fast-forward a few years, and she finally opened her first shop, Jaunima. In 2002, her business was robbed, and Urata decided to migrate to Ireland with her young family.
Urata is the owner and designer of Urata Designs, based in Ballincollig - a bespoke bridal boutique that specialises in wedding dresses, bridesmaids’ dresses, mother of the bride and mother of the groom outfits. They provide a unique service as they design, cut and make everything on site in Ballincollig.
Here, Urata tells us more about her work...
Dressmaking Runs in the Family
I come from a long line of dressmakers and tailors. My father began to teach me how to sew from a young age and at 14 years old, I had my first client - a woman I made a skirt for.
After my eldest daughter was born, I decided to pursue design and dressmaking professionally and attended college to learn more.
In 2004, I moved to Ireland from Lithuania, in search of a brighter future for myself and my family. I met so many kind and amazing people in my first year in Ireland and they are still dear clients to this day.
In 2012, an opportunity arose for me to open my own business in the heart of Ballincollig, and I grabbed it as fast as I could.
My whole family helped with the renovations to turn the space into what I had envisioned, and Urata Designs was born on March 4, 2012 – what would have been my mothers’ birthday.
Urata Designs started with alterations of all kinds and gradually developed into what it is today – specialists in wedding attire.
The creative release I get to experience every day. I love when my customers come to me with a vision, and I can bring it to life using my skills and creativity. Colours turn into patterns, then the first fitting is around the corner and the finish piece just comes to life.
You can never forget the look on their face when they put on the final finished piece.
I love getting to know my customers and over the years I’ve had the chance to meet so many unique and amazing people, who only wish the best for me and consistently support me.
A day in the Life...
I am a designer that also specialises in alterations. Every day, I work with clients to bring their vision to life. I prefer working with high quality fabrics, which I am supplied from the UK, Italy and the Netherlands. I want the pieces I design to last my customers for years and years.
Every single step of the process – design, pattern making, cutting and sewing - is done on site. There is very little I can’t do, even making fascinators and hats to match outfits for special occasions.
Currently, I am working on my brand-new collection of wedding dresses, Butterfly Magic, which is launched on Saturday, February 25 at The Metropole Hotel.
Our busiest day is Saturday as all the brides that are currently working with us come in then for their fittings. It’s our busiest day, with appointments every half hour or so.
Over the last two years, the popularity of bespoke mother of the groom/mother of the bride outfits has erupted. It’s nice to see the outfits evolving from boring, bland designs into something unique and special.
We also design made-to-measure wedding dresses for brides which accentuates their shape – as all women come in different shapes and sizes and finding the perfect dress can be difficult at times. That’s why we’re here – to take the stress away.
We try to set a calm and stress-free environment for our clients.
The Biggest Challenge
I enjoy a challenge, but the biggest challenge that I face at work is fixing a garment which is made incorrectly or is simply not what the client asked for from a third party.
As a trained professional with more than 30 years of experience, I can tell instantly when a client puts on a garment what needs to be fixed and how.
I always try to find the best way to fix a garment that will give it new life and make sure the client feels confident wearing it.
I am a very avid writer and released a stand-alone book of poems and essays in Lithuania in 2020 – where a percentage of the sales went to a charity in Lithuania that helps house parents while their children are receiving treatment in hospitals.
I also have a pretty substantial online following under a pseudonym – which is always fun, to interact with and receive feedback on poems I’m currently working on.
I am currently writing a novel based around my life and I spend each night writing and getting closer to finishing it.
On the weekends, if I’m not working overtime, I like to get away to the beach and write. As you can imagine, with Irish weather, it’s usually inside the car but it’s still nice to escape to the beach.
I love watching the waves as I am writing as I find it relaxing. The beach is my happy place.
I am a mother of three and I have two beautiful grandsons. Two of my daughters live in Dublin, along with my nephews, so I try to pop up there as often as I can. Some evenings I spend with my son who lives in Cork.
I have an amazing team around me and appreciate every single one of them for helping me build up my business to what it is today.
I have worked with some amazing wedding boutiques around Cork and formed some amazing bonds.
Ambitions, Aims and the Future
My main goal for Urata Designs is to spread awareness and the benefits of designing and having your dress made for your exact measurements and body shape.
A lot of my clients at the end of our alteration journey say to me, “I wish I knew you were here because I would have loved to have gotten my dress made here”.
Most of my bridal clients leave the shop with a completely different dress at the end – a dress that makes them feel confident and comfortable.
No bride or mother should settle for a dress, everyone can have the dress they dream of on their special days.
The goal is to expand brand awareness around Ireland and maybe worldwide.
I would like to potentially move my business to a larger space where I could have a bigger showroom for our brand-new designs from our “Butterfly Magic” collection and any past and future collections.