Northern Ireland’s Lisa McCabe talks a decade in fashion and coping with fibromyalgia

Lisa McCabe, who originally hails from Enniskillen, may have just turned 29, but she has been in the fashion industry since she was just 17 years old - designing, blogging and creating.
Lisa McCabe, who originally hails from Enniskillen, may have just turned 29, but she has been in the fashion industry since she was just 17 years old - designing, blogging and creating.

Lisa McCabe, who originally hails from Enniskillen, may have just turned 29, but she has been in the fashion industry since she was just 17 years old - designing, blogging and creating.

“I have been making and selling consecutively for around 10 years - I started very early!” laughs Lisa. “And I started my designs when I was at university which is when I also started blogging for a few websites.

Lisa says, Fabric always comes first for me before I make a design - I think thats what my niche is as this is quite an unusual way to work.

Lisa says, Fabric always comes first for me before I make a design - I think thats what my niche is as this is quite an unusual way to work.

“When I was at school I was always very artistic, and knew I wanted to do something different other people were not doing. I have always wanted to put my own stamp on the world. From a very young age I was always drawing and creating.

“I specialise in textile designs so I would class myself more as a textile designer. I make all of my own prints, I embellish everything, and work with a lot of lace. I weave and knit.

“Fabric always comes first for me before I make a design - I think that’s what my niche is as this is quite an unusual way to work.”

And Lisa explains that says she likes to make designs unique and put her own personality into them, “I never style something I would not wear myself!”

'My work is art as every single one of my pieces is a one-off.'

'My work is art as every single one of my pieces is a one-off.'

Lisa, who designs one-off pieces, explains that she sees her work as individual works of art.

“To me, my work is art as every single one of my pieces is a one-off. I don’t make dozens of one style in different sizes.

“Therefore the person who owns it is going to love it, cherish it, wear it on special occasions, look after it and appreciate it.

“To me, that is what I wanted. It is wearable art - it is something you can enjoy.

Lisa, who is big fan of travelling, gets her inspiration from different cultures.

Lisa, who is big fan of travelling, gets her inspiration from different cultures.

“In fact one of my regular customers once said to me that if she is having a bad day she likes to wear my kimono around the house and it cheers her up. And that is so lovely to hear.

“It is also amazing that I have gotten to know my clients so well that I can actually design things to reflect their personality.”

Lisa, who is big fan of travelling, gets her inspiration from different cultures. “When we were younger we did not have the money to go abroad, so when I got older I decided I would travel at least two or three times per year.

“I avoid the tourist spots and try to soak up the food, the atmosphere, the people.

Northern Irelands Lisa McCabe talks a decade in fashion and coping with fibromyalgia

Northern Irelands Lisa McCabe talks a decade in fashion and coping with fibromyalgia

“I love texture - everything from rust on gates inspires me, both texture and colour-wise! I take my camera with me everywhere and just snap a picture to look at as a collection later for inspiration and decide where to go from there.”

Recently, Lisa has been focusing on her blog after being diagnosed with the chronic condition fibromyalgia.

“My blog has really taken off. I used to treat my business as a separate entity, but I recently realised people are actually interested in my unique perspective as a designer. I think the diary of a fashion designer is my niche.”

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. As well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia also suffer from symptoms including: extreme fatigue; muscle stiffness; increased sensitivity to pain; difficulty sleeping; problems with mental processes – such as problems with memory and concentration and more.

“It is very up and down,” Lisa explains. “You cannot predict a lot around it. That is why I have been concentrating more on my blog recently and making kimonos and scarves for customers which are free fitting things rather than arranging fittings.

“I do not want to commit to making a dress for someone and promise I will make it within two weeks if I get bad during that period of time.

“I never want to put myself under pressure or let someone down like that, I just would not do it. Which is why I have been concentrating on the blog for now. I am just doing what I feel comfortable doing at the minute.”

Lisa, who suffered with symptoms for over eight years before finally being diagnosed, is still on a waiting list for treatment, and uses her blog and social media channels to bring awareness to the issue and encourage others to seek help.

“I begged the doctor for help every single week for eight years. Now I have finally been diagnosed but I am on a waiting list to see a specialist, which is expected to take three years.

“This is not a condition which will go away. It is a new condition and there is not a lot known about it. Recently, I was even told that if I went to yoga I would be ‘cured.’ It simply does not work that way.

“I do a lot of fibromyalgia awareness on my page as I do not want people to feel alone. Do not let doctors make you think it is all in your head.

“Just because you are young and do not look visibly in pain does not mean it is not there.”

Lisa offered this advice to fellow sufferers: “Do not allow yourself to be fobbed off. Keep going, keep pursuing it and make sure you get to the bottom of it. Your health is your wealth at the end of the day!”

Check out Lisa’s blog at: norlisafashion.blogspot.co.uk and Like on Facebook to stay up to date at facebook.com/NorLisaFashion.

You can also follow Lisa at: twitter.com/norlisafashion and instagram.com/norlisafashiondesigner and on YouTube.