Young Northern Ireland business owner is the face of a huge new Belfast mural

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Abbie Lawlor founder of Belfast streetwear and loungewear brand AHL Apparel is the face of one of the murals which covers three storeys of the City East building

A Northern Ireland business owner is the inspiration for a newly launched mural on the wall of East Belfast Enterprise headquarters.

Abbie Lawlor founder of AHL Apparel, a Belfast streetwear and loungewear brand, is the face of one of two the murals depicting the past and future of the community and Newtownards Road enterprise.

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The two murals created by cross-community groups pay homage to the east’s strong industrial heritage as well as its future potential.

A Northern Ireland business owner is the inspiration for a newly launched mural on the wall of East Belfast Enterprise headquarters. Abbie Lawlor founder of AHL Apparel, a Belfast streetwear and loungewear brand, is the face of one of two the murals depicting the past and future of the community and Newtownards Road enterpriseA Northern Ireland business owner is the inspiration for a newly launched mural on the wall of East Belfast Enterprise headquarters. Abbie Lawlor founder of AHL Apparel, a Belfast streetwear and loungewear brand, is the face of one of two the murals depicting the past and future of the community and Newtownards Road enterprise
A Northern Ireland business owner is the inspiration for a newly launched mural on the wall of East Belfast Enterprise headquarters. Abbie Lawlor founder of AHL Apparel, a Belfast streetwear and loungewear brand, is the face of one of two the murals depicting the past and future of the community and Newtownards Road enterprise

As part of the first mural the community shared stories of entrepreneurs from the rag and bone man, the sweep, the fishmonger, the butcher, the window cleaner, the cobbler and the trades that were at the historical heart of industrial East Belfast.

The second mural aimed to reflect the entrepreneurs of now and future and was modelled on local entrepreneur Abbie who attended advice sessions within the building on which her image is now displayed.

The ‘parachute cloth’ style murals cover three storeys of the City East building on the Newtownards Road and were created with direction from local artist Dee Craig.

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As part of the first mural the community shared stories of entrepreneurs from the rag and bone man, the sweep, the fishmonger, the butcher, the window cleaner, the cobbler and the trades that were at the historical heart of industrial East BelfastAs part of the first mural the community shared stories of entrepreneurs from the rag and bone man, the sweep, the fishmonger, the butcher, the window cleaner, the cobbler and the trades that were at the historical heart of industrial East Belfast
As part of the first mural the community shared stories of entrepreneurs from the rag and bone man, the sweep, the fishmonger, the butcher, the window cleaner, the cobbler and the trades that were at the historical heart of industrial East Belfast

Abbie explained: “I sought help from East Belfast Enterprise mentoring programmes for business start ups. I knew as well as investing in the machinery to create my designs that I would need a strategic business plan and that’s where East Belfast Enterprise came in.

“I took part in the Kickstart programme and then that followed with Her Up. I received a grant of £1,000 to help in the starting of my business and I was given opportunities on the programmes provided by East Belfast Enterprise that I wouldn’t ordinarily have had access to or known about had it not been for their support.

“For example I was able to pitch to a board by making a video presentation to them and before joining the programmes I wouldn’t have had the confidence in myself to do this.

“I am now participating in the ‘Go Succeed’ programme and I really don’t recognise myself from where I started to where I am now – my confidence in myself and my ability and my belief in the brand have grown beyond my wildest of expectations.

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Abbie Lawlor founder of AHL Apparel, a Belfast streetwear and loungewear brand, is the face of one of two the murals depicting the past and future of the community and Newtownards Road enterprise. Pictured is Abbie Lawlor of AHL Apparel at the launch of the East Belfast Enterprise mural with Jonathan McAlpin, Lauren Shaw and Kenny Rodgers of East Belfast Enterprise, and Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Ryan MurphyAbbie Lawlor founder of AHL Apparel, a Belfast streetwear and loungewear brand, is the face of one of two the murals depicting the past and future of the community and Newtownards Road enterprise. Pictured is Abbie Lawlor of AHL Apparel at the launch of the East Belfast Enterprise mural with Jonathan McAlpin, Lauren Shaw and Kenny Rodgers of East Belfast Enterprise, and Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Ryan Murphy
Abbie Lawlor founder of AHL Apparel, a Belfast streetwear and loungewear brand, is the face of one of two the murals depicting the past and future of the community and Newtownards Road enterprise. Pictured is Abbie Lawlor of AHL Apparel at the launch of the East Belfast Enterprise mural with Jonathan McAlpin, Lauren Shaw and Kenny Rodgers of East Belfast Enterprise, and Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Ryan Murphy

“My parents have built a home studio for me and that’s where you’ll find me working on next season’s designs, creating content for social media and processing orders.

“I sell online as well as at markets locally. I’ve attended the Fine and Dandy market, taken a stall at St George's and have also promoted AHL Apparel at markets in CS Lewis Square and Banana Block.”

The mural shows the energy of the modern entrepreneur, working tirelessly, innovating, creating, connecting. Typical examples of today’s entrepreneurs and those for the future were drawn from conversations with local people and these framed the image, with an encouragement to “BE inspired”.

Speaking about being the face of the new East Belfast Enterprise mural, Abbie, continued: “I was very excited to be asked to be featured on the mural. I had no idea it was going to be so impressive as I couldn't really visualise the size or impact of it before it was installed. I'm very proud to be featured on the wall and my family and friends are delighted to see me smiling down at them."

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Jonathan McAlpin, chief executive of East Belfast Enterprise, which owns the City East building, added: “We occupy an iconic site on Newtownards Road so our vision was to create something iconic that would exude passion and captivate passers by, filling them with pride and inspiration.

"I believe these two murals will create a positive legacy and forge connections in the community. They are a permanent visual presentation of our community’s vision of and for East Belfast. Where there is inclusivity and cohesiveness, there are also productive outcomes and art is a powerful medium to bring people together.”

Belfast Mural Arts installed the artwork on the iconic site on Newtownards Road in a jigsaw-like technique using super strength glue to give it a lifespan of up to 25 years before requiring maintenance.

The murals have been installed with equipment from Briggs Equipment and have been made possible by funding through collaboration with Apex Housing, Belfast City Council, Clanmil Housing, Connswater, George Best Belfast City Airport, NI Community Relations Council, Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Radius Housing.

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