Atlantic Equipment

Ashleigh Smith Designer

We find out a little more from Ashleigh Smith, the founder of Atlantic Equipment about what inspires and influences her work and products, also where to get a good pint of Guinness.



What was the catalyst for starting Atlantic Equipment and whats your long term vision?

I am fortunate enough to have been raised on the side of a lovely mountain called Benbulben in County Sligo, and my family spent alot of time in the woods and the rockpools near my home. This is essentially the starting point of everything and the elements I love most about the brand, The Atlantic Equipment Project (AE). AE began as the thesis for a Masters of Design I did in The Netherlands. I’ve been educated in the classical industrial design way and as such at the start of the thesis I just wanted to make a single product. Thanks to some incredible people I’m lucky to call friends, I began to see the bigger vision for the project. The thesis morphed into an intense user research study on the wonderful people who traipse up and down the Irish Atlantic coast in search of waves. The brand identity emerged from that research. This basically means the AE is rooted in a very real character, and as such this keeps us honest. It means we must always be true to our core values; Atlantic Coastal Heritage, Honesty and Exploration. For example, if we started making packs in China, this would fly in the face of our values, the brand wouldn’t make sense and it would fall apart. So our rooted values define the trajectory. I like that alot. The long term vision is big and simple; a global outdoor brand, with a large scale manufacturing base in the West of Ireland (bringing between 20 – 30 people employment in a place thats a little lacking in jobs right now). The brand is based on a community of people I love, and I want to continue to design and make a product that these people love.

Who’s involved in the brand and are you from a fashion or design background?

AE is just under 1 year of trading and so still very small. In the workshop is myself and Nigel. Up until Christmas I was doing the lot; product design, prototyping, promotion, manufacture, shipping, admin and everything in between. Since then Nigel has joined, and I get to spend a lot more time designing and developing the business. Nigel, quite fortunately, suffers from perfectionism and his skill at the machine is remarkable. Trusting someone to manufacture an AE pack from start to finish was difficult for me, but he sure is good!


Whats been your favourite piece from Atlantics output so far?

My favourite pack of the collection is probably the Tan Duck Canvas Rolltop.
Its my daily carry, and I’ve had it since the very early days so its worn in, a little faded and still good. I’ve a 5 minute cycle to work, so it takes my laptop and bits and bobs for the day, on my back, with space for the dinner groceries on the way home. The roll top function is pretty cool, if I say so myself, because you can carry a little or a lot. This pack was featured in one of the national papers before Christmas, and since then has become our best seller.

How do you work best, with silence and calm, or with music blaring? If its the later whats usually on the AE stereo?

In the workshop there are quite, calm days, and days when there’s music all day. When the stereo’s on we regularly like soul, reggae, blues. Nigel’s a musician and so its rare enough that I get a vote.

Wheres your favourite place to eat and enjoy a few drinks?

I am in the joyful position of sharing my home with the awesome chef that is Carolannes Kitchen She keeps me well fed with vegan deliciousness. But along with that, Sligo, our little happening town is home to lots of cool places for grub and pints. My good friends own Kates Kitchen where all AE’s working lunches go down and Mc Garrigles on the main street has lovely Guinness and reggae on Monday nights.