March 30, 2015


Collins Barracks: Jewellery and Grid Irons

Couldn't resist these gorgeous enamel necklaces at Collin's Barracks Museum in Dublin. They don't have a huge selection of jewellery there but these little pieces are very special.



And these beautiful grid irons and meat forks: they could have just been 100% utilitarian but no - some blacksmiths went to the trouble of adding designs to them, including lovely hearts. Awww, bunch of old softies!


February 28, 2015


October 16, 2014


The Carolina Collection of Talismans

Saba Jewellery's New Range is Launched – Feminine with an Edge     

“It’s all about the spiritual side of ourselves – that parallel universe of energy, spirits, intuition –– that exists alongside us but keeps itself hidden from view.” So says Saba Jewellery designer, Geraldine Murphy, of her new monochromatic range, the Carolina Collection.
Skull Necklace

Two weeks in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina last summer inspired Geraldine to design this new collection as an addition to her Guaranteed Quirky range.

The Carolina Collection is a series of esoteric talismans with a very graphic design, depicting symbols that are meaningful, comforting and stylish.

The collection has more 3D elements than Geraldine’s other work, whilst maintaining the strong lines and shapes that she is known for.

“I was conscious of bringing the primary elements into the design of each piece,” says Geraldine, Fuschia Bracelet “which is why I
chose to use only black and white – oxidized sterling silver chains and white enamel, as well as pure, highly finished silver. For the black and white pieces I wanted to juxtapose light and dark – and silver is very strong symbolically as it is associated with the moon. It works both from an artistic perspective and from an allegorical one.

“Talismans, as purveyors of good luck, have deep meanings that come from ancient cultures and traditions,” Geraldine adds. “Look at Buddhist mandalas, Mexico's Day of the Dead, Tarot and Cabala symbols. We recognise these, they are comforting – and yet, a little bit edgy too.”

Does Geraldine have a spiritual side?

“Yes! think most people do. I’m quite a solitary person and need to spend a lot of time by myself, mooching around, gathering my thoughts. I meditate, I walk my dogs along the Dodder River, I read voraciously – all sorts of books as well as lots of books on spiritual topics. I don't know what or who is out there, but there is something out there for sure.”

The Carolina Collection is much more of a ‘fashion range’ than Geraldine normally designs.

“Black and white always works,” she says. “It looks chic and never goes out of style. This range can be worn with any colour, any neckline and for any occasion. I want the range to appeal both on a fashion and on an emotional level. Jewellery is a very personal thing.
Angel Wings Necklace
This range works for those who want to make a subtle statement, as well as those who want to make a big statement.”

The Carolina Collection, like all of Saba Jewellery, is handmade by Geraldine in Ireland.

Check out the collection by clicking here

July 25, 2014


Nirbhaya The Play at The Pavilion Theatre

Go to see this play - literally, if you do nothing else in the next two weeks, go, go, go.
I went last night and was left speechless by the time the play finished. What incredible women, what they have been through and come out the other end. Other women and children, not so lucky, but this group want to change the world and I think they can.

You will be amazed, horrified, uplifted in equal measure.




Go to the play, support them and their cause: peace and freedom from violence for women and children. Why is that such a big ask?

Here is the link:


April 25, 2014


Enamelling Process Photos...uploaded onto Flikr

If you want to see what the process is like, check out some photos on my Flikr Page by clicking here.

October 20, 2013


Author Brian Finnegan talks to Saba Jewellery about his life and his latest book, Knowing Me, Knowing You

Brian Finnegan is Editor of GCN Magazine and has just published his second book, Knowing Me, Knowing You. He lives in Dublin.

About writing your first book, Brian, The Forced Redundancy Film Club (which I couldn't put down by the way) tell us about  how you came up with the story?
The idea came to me after I met a friend of my partner’s on the street in Dublin. It was 2010 and she had just been let go from her job, along with a lot of her colleagues. She told me that rather than lose touch with each other now that they were no longer in the same office every day, she and a group of her former workmates decided to start a book club.
“That’s a really good idea for a book,” I said to her.
Later, at home, I was discussing the idea with my son, who was in film school at the time. He figured there were too many novels about book clubs on the shelves already, and suggested a film club. Quickly this developed into the idea of a club where the characters would watch a classic movie in each other’s houses every month over the course of a year, and their lives would change in tandem with the movies they watched.
And so The Forced Redundancy Film Club was born – Katherine, Lisa, Martin, Jamie and Alice, who are all going through some sort of personal crisis, and all of whom find comfort, affirmation and hope together, watching timeless films like Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, It’s a Wonderful Life, and The Wizard of Oz.

Were the characters based on real people? How did you develop them?
The five main characters are almagamations of different people and my imagination. Several of the supporting characters are fully based on real people, however. One of them came from an particularly riveting episode of Supernanny, one of them is based on a member of my family, and one of them is a man I see regularly in my local Spar shop.

How long did it take you to finish it? Did you have a choice in the matter or does the publisher crack the whip and give you a deadline?
It took me two years to write, and four drafts. I had no deadline at the beginning, because I had no publisher, so it was harder to stick to a writing routine. Once a publisher came on board, I was given a deadline. I also quickly understood I had enormous amounts of work to to, particularly on character development. My editor said I was different to other first-time writers, who usually have the characters right and the structure all wrong. My structure was perfect. I just needed to explore my characters’ feelings and motivations on a much deep level.



Was it a different experience writing the second book, Brian – easier or harder? And please tell us about your second book (again, I couldn't put it down), Knowing Me, Knowing You.
It was both easier and harder to write the second book. I had a shorter deadline (just a year), which made me panic a lot that I wouldn’t get it done in time, and the stories in it are very different to my own experience, which meant doing a lot of research. But I learned so much about character from writing The Forced Redundancy Film Club, that I was with my group of misfits immediately. They were like a new family from day one, and it was nice to spend time writing them.
Knowing Me Knowing You is the story of Maggie Corcoran, who is suffering with breast cancer and has a broken marriage. She’s a lifelong ABBA fan, and on the day she begins chemotherapy, she also discovers that ABBA are to reform for one concert only in Stockholm. So Maggie determines to bring the members of the teenage ABBA fan club she was part of 30 years ago together to go to the concert. But the gang she knew when she was just 15 are very different today, and when they all get together, sparks begin to fly.
It’s a book about first love and how it never quite leaves you, and about the impact of friendships on all our lives, and how although we change as we grow up, a part of us remains the same always.

If you were to give some advice to someone trying to get a novel published, what would you say to them?
Make sure you have a good concept. If you look at any bookshelf, you will see that most novels revolve around a strong concept. It might be obvious like the concept from Gone Girl (A woman disappears, her unreliable husband is being blamed for her murder, but is he innocent or guilty?), or it could be a hidden concept that’s not so easily gleaned from the back page blurb. It’s all well and good to tell stories, but you have to get readers hooked into a reason for reading them, and it’s exactly the same with publishers and agents. What is different about your book, that will make readers want to buy it?

About you and GCN:
What is your day like at GCN and how long have you worked there? Tell us more about GCN.
I’ve been the editor of GCN, which is Ireland’s gay magazine, for ten years. It’s a very busy job, particuarly because you have to have so much headspace, and I write novels in my spare time, but I love it.

What are the major issues at the moment for gay people in Ireland?
Equal marriage, the rife bullying of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our schools, and Section 37 of the Equality Employment Act, which allows Catholic-run organisations to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation.

What kind of boss are you?
I am a good boss, I think. I like to work in an envoirnment where everyone feels valuable and happy, including myself, so I encourage a workplace that’s fun, talkative, and not too hierarchical. Having said that, when I need to be tough, I get tough.

I know you have a son, what is he doing and has he got an artistic focus as well?
My son did his degree in Film & Television Production at DIADT. He’s 23 now and living in Berlin, where he works for a computer company a few days a week and is working on making a documentary in his free time. He also parties a lot – a chip of the old block.

Who is a person you really admire and why? This can be someone famous or your mum...whoever it is, let's hear about them!
I absolutely admire my great friend (and your sister!) Adrienne Murphy. She is the single mother of two boys, one of them profoundly autistic, and she is an amazing mother on so many levels to both of her sons. What I admire most about Adrienne is her fighting spirit, how she will campaign and work tirelessly and succeed in getting the very best for her son in a country where services and supports for autisitc people and their families are being continually sidelined. I also admire Adrienne’s joi de vivre and self-deprecating (and sometimes surreal) sense of humour, which have never waned, even when she has been in her darkest days. I am part of a trust for Adrienne’s son, The Caoimh Connolly Trust, which people can find out about here: or here:

What makes your heart nearly burst with joy?
When I see my son after a long time apart, and dancing to great music. Oh, and singing with friends.

What irritates the Bejaysus out of you?
When technology won’t work. If I’m having problems with the Internet, I nearly lose my mind. I need therapy.

Do you have any hobbies or do something that helps you relax?
I play the piano for an hour every day when I come home from work. It’s a routine that separates me from my work head into my relaxing head. Usually I’m writing from 6.30am, and then in the office from 10am to 6pm, so by piano time, it’s definitely time to relax.

What is your favourite:
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Best book about a family ever written, beautiful language, great characters, proper literary fiction that’s unputdownable. My guilty pleasure book is Cashelmara by Susan Howatch. I’ve read this Anglo Irish family saga written in the 1970s about ten times. The writing is sometimes shaky beyond belief, it’s fundamentally homophobic, but the story and the characters are so riveting, they live on with you way beyond the book’s 800-odd pages.

To Kill a Mockingbird. I love the book too, but the film version never fails to move me, and I’ve watched it a lot more times than I’ve read the book. I used it as one of the films that The Forced Redundancy Film Club watch, and this gave me the excuse of watching it every night for a week for research purposes. I found that it got better with every viewing.

Place in the world?
Tuscany. My dream is to live there eight months a year.

Jewellery designer?
Geraldine Murphy. She’s amazing!

Any interesting plans/goals for this year? Personal and/or professional.
I’m starting my new book on November 1st, with a view to finishing on Jan 30th 2015. It’s like standing at the bottom of Mount Everest, getting ready to scale it with new climbing equipment. My partner and I have also made an offer on a house in Tuscany. Fingers crossed!

Find out more about Brian and his books by checking out the links below:

September 10, 2013


My name is Caoimh Connolly and I have Autism

This is my nephew Caoimh. He is fabulous and gorgeous and he has autism - and he toughs it out every day of his life as do his parents and brother. With a lot of work on his side and theirs he has come a long way and we hope he will continue getting better and better. He loves his life thank God. My friends have been kind enough to set up a trust fund for Caoimh and we organise fund raising events - the next one is on this Friday (the 13th of September) and is called Back To The Future 80's Disco in The Odeon on Harcourt Street in Dublin. Tickets are on sale at:
Please watch our little video - you'll enjoy it!


June 01, 2013


Meet Jane Burke, co-founder of Sighthound Strolls

Jane Burke, along with Suzanne Ryan, set up Sighthound Strolls. Their work in creating a better understanding of, and compassion towards, Greyhounds, Lurchers and Whippets is inspiring. Jane lives with her family in Dublin.

Tell me about Sighthound Strolls Jane, what exactly is it, why and how did you set it up? 
Sighthound Strolls is an initiative set up to bring owners of pet sighthounds in Ireland together for group walks, while at the same time promoting them as pets.  In what seems like another lifetime, one before kids, dogs, a massive mortgage and other grown up responsibilities came into our lives, my partner Dan and I took a holiday in the South of France and over a number of dinners where wine was in plentiful supply I convinced him that we needed a dog in our lives!  When we returned we visited our local animal rescue centre and told them we were interested in adopting a dog, possibly an older one or one they were having trouble rehoming.  We were invited to meet a number of lurchers who they were sadly struggling to rehome, we fell for one called Luna and while I didn’t know it then, the seed of Sighthound Strolls was sewn!

What is a Sighthound and why set up an organisation that supports them – what is so special about them?  
The 'sighthound' group includes greyhounds, whippets, salukis, and wolfhounds etc., as well as their breed mixes. When we first adopted Luna we had no idea how these dogs were perceived by many people but we quickly learned!  People would cross the road when they saw us coming, scooping up their dogs and/or their children in the process.  As we minded our own business and Luna walked beautifully on the lead by our side people would shout at us that our dog was vicious and should be muzzled.  We even had people tell us he was ugly. Imagine saying that to someone!  And there I was looking at this beautiful, elegant, graceful creature beside me and wondering what they saw that I didn’t and vice versa.  We look back now and laugh, but at the time I found it very stressful and upsetting and it was made worse by the fact that we knew no one else with a sighthound who could empathise with what we were going through.  A few years went by, we hardened ourselves to the comments and then amazingly we started to get some positive interest and we started to meet the odd person here and there who also had a sighthound and understood our pain! 

I would have been a regular reader of some sighthound forums in the UK at that time and I was always very envious of the events they organised and decided to take the bull by the horns and Sighthound Strolls was born.  The main aim was to bring together other owners for walks, to create a sense of ‘community’ but another strand to it was to try to create a platform where the public could meet loved, happily homed dogs, chat to their owners if they wished and we could begin to dispel some of the myths associated with them – the main ones being that they are vicious, highly strung, need lots of exercise, not safe around children or other dogs – all of which couldn’t be further from the truth.  Anyone who really knows these dogs knows that in the main they are sweet, gentle, playful, good with kids and other dogs, laidback, easygoing and very, very lazy!  They get under your skin and are a huge passion of mine and most of the people who attend our events.

How long has the charity being going and what have been the major milestones (both good and bad)? What are the ups and downs of doing volunteer work such as this?   
We held our first walk in 2011 and haven’t looked back!  I believe we had approx 20 dogs on that walk and I was beside myself with excitement as it became apparent that there were other lovely people out there who chose to share their home with dogs who seemed to stir such feeling in random people on the street!  One of the highlights for both Suzanne and I was our Christmas walk in 2012.  We had upwards of 90 dogs in attendance, all dressed in fancy dress.  It was great fun and the only time I would be brave enough to wear a pair of novelty antlers in public!  It’s great to see the message getting out there.  Most people I speak to seem to have heard what great pets sighthounds make and we have new people signing up to our walks every month. 

I don’t see any better way to drive our message home then by letting people meet the dogs.  They are the stars of the show and with their elegant looks and wonderful personalities they can’t fail to charm!  We also encourage people thinking of adopting a sighthound to come along to our walks to meet owners and ask questions and at the same time we welcome other rescues to come along with dogs they have for rehoming and as a result a number of dogs have been homed through the walks.  Last year we teamed up with Positive Dog Training in Sandyford www. to run an off lead playdate at their training and daycare centre.  It is held every second Saturday between 1pm and 2pm and it’s a great chance for the dogs to socialise and have fun in a safe environment.  A number of people with nervous dogs have found it very helpful for them.  Because a lot of people would know me from running the group, I was often being contacted about a stray sighthound that someone had found so inevitably a natural progression of what we do has led to us helping to rescue and find new homes for a number of sighthounds here in Ireland and the UK.  We take a small number on ourselves who we vaccinate, microchip, spay/neuter and try to find suitable homes for and we also teamed up with Kildare Animal Foundation and work closely and successfully with them to help them rehome their sighthounds.  As they are a mixed breed rescue, they found the sighthounds in their care were often being overlooked.  We are very proud to have helped over 50 sighthounds since we set up and we get regular updates on most of them and see many of them at our events.  At times it can feel like a uphill battle as there are just so many sighthounds needing help and there are still people who don’t believe they make suitable pets but the good outweighs the bad for sure.

In what way is it different from other animal welfare organisations and do you get funding from the State?  
I’m not sure we are any different really!  There are so many dedicated groups plugging away trying to make a difference.  The harsh reality is that Ireland has a poor record when it comes to animal welfare and thousands of young, healthy dogs are euthanised in pounds every year.   Added to that thousands of greyhounds are unaccounted for each year, with many ending up being dumped in pounds where they are euthanised or taken to the vets by their owners where they are euthanised.   Only a very small percentage of the greyhounds that retire from racing are rehomed as pets abroad or in Ireland and this is what we are trying to change.  We don’t get any funding from the State. The great thing about our model is that it doesn’t cost us anything to hold the walks or the off lead playdates so with the support of the walkers and some generous people who have given us their time for free to design things like leaflets and websites we don’t require a lot of money, although endless supplies of it would be nice and would enable us to do a lot more!

Tell me about some of the dogs you have dealt with, any in particular that really stand out in your mind?  

Without sounding cheesy they all have a special place in my heart and as you know yourself, I do love people who have adopted a dog from us to keep us updated on how they are getting on.  I’m sure there are many sighs of ‘not her again’ as they open yet another email from me wondering what Winnie the Pooh ate for breakfast this morning or whether Boots enjoyed his holiday in Kerry!  I guess our most well known dog and one who seems to have a huge fanclub on our Facebook page is a little lurcher pup called Banjo.  Banjo was found by a member of the public wandering around a busy carpark.  He was dirty and skinny, had a broken foot and it soon became apparent that he was completely deaf, not that he let that stand in his way.  He is a funny, fun, happy guy with crazy ears which have a mind of their own and an album dedicated to their brilliance on our Facebook page!

Tell me about a dog that you have right now that is looking for a home Jane
We have a most beautiful greyhound lady called Katie looking for a sofa to call her own at the moment.  She actually celebrated her 7th birthday last week and her foster mum baked her a cake (us sighthound people may or may not be a little bit crazy!)  Katie like all greyhounds is a laidback lass who is most often found on the sofa.  Greyhounds really do spend a huge portion of the day just relaxing and sleeping and Katie is no different.  As you can see her dedication to getting her beauty sleep has resulted in a glowing complexion and bright shiny eyes!  She is very sweet, very happy and will make someone a fantastic and elegant companion.

Now, about you...
What's your day job Jane?  A rather boring admin job that can in no way compete with the glamorous world of dog rescue!

How many dogs do you have of your own and tell us about them?  We have 3 dogs, Luna our lurcher who would like people to know that he is a boy despite the female name, Cocoa the greyhound who is the newest member of our family and is fun giddy and silly (she’d probably be Barbie if she was a doll!) and Wanda the greyhound who is the boss around these here parts and keeps everyone in line.

I know you have young children, do you think it is beneficial for kids to get to know animals when they are young and if so, why?  
I do indeed have young children – a 4 year old, a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old.  I think it is hugely beneficial for children to grow up with animals and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I think it teaches them about things like responsibility, compassion and loyalty and gives them great memories they will hold with them forever.  We have little jobs for our kids to do like helping to feed and groom the dogs and they love being involved.  Obviously I am biased but I feel that sighthounds in particular make great family pets and often fit in well in a busy family.

Who is a person you really admire and why? This can be someone famous or your mum...whoever it is, let's hear about them!  
Hmm, that’s a difficult one.  I admire lots of different people for many different reasons but in the main it would be people who are happy to stand up and be counted rather than sitting back and letting others fight for things they are passionate about.  As a teenager I was rather inspired by the riot grrrl movement and the women associated with that!

What makes your heart nearly to burst with joy?
My kids.  And hearing my favourite songs being played live by the bands I love, especially if that band is The Lemonheads. Oh and the fact that my partner Dan loves baking and allows me to be his No. 1 taste tester!

What irritates the Bejaysus out of you?  
Dan often refers to me as an ‘urban vigilante’ as I get irritated by the little things around me such as people parking cars on footpaths, putting satellite dishes on the front of their houses, putting junk mail in our door even though we have a ‘no junk mail’ sign.  I’ve been known to write a strongly worded letter!  I’m sure I’m coming across as a bundle of laughs here!

Do you have any hobbies or do something that helps you relax?  

I’m afraid between work, the kids and the dog stuff I don’t get a lot of me time.  The usual suspects such as reading, listening to music and going to the cinema.  I used to enjoy cycling, at a fairly leisurely pace not the fast paced lycra clad professional style, before my bike was stolen so would like to reignite that flame when I can afford a new bike.  

What is your favourite:

Film? The Beat that my Heart Skipped, a French thriller by Jacques Audiard.  I adore it, especially the incredible charismatic performance of Romain Duris.

Book?  The Windup Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.  It really captured my imagination when I first read it and is one I have gone back to many times.  In fact, I think its overdue another outing!

Place in the world?  I don’t believe I have one.  There have been times in my life when certain place in the world have felt like the best place at that particular time.  But if you pinned me down I’d have to say the Glastonbury Festival.  I’ve only been once and it was many years ago but I met someone very special there and that meeting hugely influenced the direction my life would take.

Colour? Can I pick two?  Blue and Green, although a nun once told me that ‘blue and green should never be seen’ as she cast a critical eye over my blue and green dress!

Any interesting plans/goals for this year? Personal and/or professional.
  Now that I’m done having children, I feel I can slowly start making plans and goals, I just don’t know what they are yet! A holiday, anywhere, just to be away somewhere, anywhere without any responsibilities for at least a week would be thoroughly welcomed and appreciated!

Find out more about Sighthounds and Sighthounds Strolls by clicking on the links below:
And if you can give a loving home to this gorgeous Katie creature, contact Jane!
Next interview is with Brian Finnegan who just published his second book, Knowing Me, Knowing You
April 26, 2013


Interview with Furniture and Product Designer, Jenny Walsh

Jenny Walsh is a furniture and product designer living and working in Dublin.

How did you get into furniture and product design? Was it something you always wanted to do or did you have another career before this?

Well both actually! I always wanted to do something creative but took the long road getting here. I grew up working in hotels and restaurants and loved it so I guess I kind of fell into that after school. I was very lucky in that I got to work with some amazing people in great places and moved up the ladder into management very quickly. I studied hospitality management part time and then got offered a job managing a fine dining restaurant in Boston. That was a wonderful experience and I learnt so much from it. But I knew it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. After a few fun filled years in Boston and 7 years after I left school, I finally moved home to study design.

How long have you been in business and what have been the major milestones (both good and bad)? What are the ups and downs of working for yourself? Have you made any mistakes that were total disasters or had lucky breaks that really changed things for the better?

3 years this week! Hard to believe really. For the first year and a half I was teaching and working on lots of other side projects so I’ve really only been focused on this as a full time business for 18 months. I never really set out to be self employed. I thought it would give me something to do until I found a job. That it would look better on my cv than doing nothing.

But now I’m learning how to run it as a business and getting stuck into the sales, marketing and business side of things. I’ve grown from having 3 stockists to nearly 40 in the last 18 months and have send orders to shops in 6 countries this year alone so I’m not doing too badly at it. I’m actually enjoying it far more than I expected to. It’s hard doing it all on your own as I’m sure you know. Being the one person responsible for everything. I really miss working as part of a team. There’s something strange about setting goals and targets and then having no one to tell if you hit them or not. No one who’ll understand what you're talking about anyway! But it’s great too getting to do what you want when you want! I’m so passionate now for what I do that I can’t ever see myself getting ‘a real job’ or working for anyone else. I’m lucky that enough people like what I do to let me keep doing it.

How would you describe your designs, what materials do you use, what kind of people buy your products?

My designs are playful and light-hearted. I think people like to give them as gifts as they like the idea of giving a loved one something that will make them smile.

Are your designs you? How much do they say about you in other words?

I think all designs are hugely reflective of their designers. We are all products of our surroundings and that comes through in what we make. It’s such a personal process. A little idea from your head that you work on with your own two hands and then decide you like enough to offer to strangers for them to critic and/or buy. It’s an emotional and personal process.

Are there any key attributes you want to include or that you adhere to when designing a new piece?

I’m hugely influenced by the Irish tradition of storytelling. Instead of sitting down to design, say a lamp, I find that I focus more on the personality or character that I want it to have or the story that I want it to tell. Through lots of sketching the story somehow turns into a thing and then I give that thing a function.

My goal is always to create something that will engage, entertain and uplift. I set out to create smiles rather than objects. Things that lighten the mood and remind people to have fun!

Tell me about your latest/upcoming range and where is it available?

I wish I knew! I’ve made a huge number of prototypes and sketch models over the last couple of months. I have them hanging up all around me as I work and I’m constantly looking from one to the next tweaking them slightly until I’m a little happier with them. When I have something exactly as I want it I will start to produce and market it. I hope my existing stockists will all take it on but you never know! I have been really lucky to date but you never really know if anyone will like what you’ve been working on!

What technique do you use most/is your favourite/is your trademark?

I think my trademark is really clean lines and simple forms. I don’t like to ove-complicate things.

What is the one piece of advice you could you offer an up and coming designer?

Don’t do it unless it’s your passion. The hours are too long and far too many of them are unpaid for you to last otherwise. If you're thinking about becoming self employed then intern for someone in a similar position first. I know a lot of people will advise against this but I think it’s the best way to learn. Just make sure you are learning from someone doing exactly what you want to do and take notes on everything. There’s a lot more to running a design business than you could possibly ever hope to learn in college. Immersing yourself in it for a couple of months can save you making very expensive mistakes when you do go it alone.

Other than that just work hard and most importantly – be nice!

Who are your favourite designers and artists? Who or what inspires you? It can be anyone or anything Jenny.

When I first graduated I still had it in my head that designers came from somewhere else. That they were people from New York or Milan who worked for huge big firms and were born in cites that made being a designer far more achievable than it seems to be here. Then I came across Vaughshannon. Two young designers with a studio in Dublin city who were creating products to international critical acclaim. There was something very Irish about their style and it was going down a storm. It was hugely inspiring and motivating to see people I could identify with doing so well. Especially to see them doing so well overseas and still be based here.

I know you love animals and have a dog – tell me about her please!

Little Gizmo, yeah she’s gorgeous. Or Princess Gizmosous as I like to call her. It’s more befitting of her regal personality. Right now she’s doing her famous scarf impression. She’s climbed up onto the back on my neck and dropped her front paws over my right shoulder and her back paws over my left. She’d stay like that forever if I let her. Lucky for her she’s quite soft and snugly so I let her away with it most of the time.

What makes your heart nearly to burst with joy?

I’m blessed with lots of amazing people in my life. Friends and family who go out of their way to do nice things and who really care. That would make anyone burst with joy!

My love of architecture, design and art always gives me lots of reasons to be joyus too.

I can’t walk by the Grand Canal Theatre (as I like to call it) without getting emotional. It’s ridiculous really. It’s been there so long now you’d think my brain would get used to it. But I find it still has the same impact now as it did the first time I saw it. It’s so hard to explain but it just completely fills me with joy!

And design. I saw a picture of a chair the other day and it was so stunning I actually did a little dance of excitement looking at it.

And art. I was in London a few weeks ago and popped into the National Gallery. I was floating around taking everything in when I found myself standing in front of “The ‘Fighting Temeraire’ Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken up’. I had never seen it in person before and wasn’t expecting to like it but was completely blown away by it. There’s no describing the sense of joy you can get from looking at something so beautifully executed and filled with emotion.

What irritates the Bejaysus out of you?

People taking the Lords name in vain. Ha ha, no only joking. Jeez, let me think....

Me. I definitely annoy myself more than anyone else annoys me!

That and mornings. Not a big fan of them either.

Do you have any hobbies or do something that helps you relax?

As a professional designer I seem to spend most of my time dealing with stockists and suppliers or on packaging and paper work. To relax I design!

I work ridiculous hours. This job doesn’t leave much time for a social life so I’m really lucky that I find some aspects of it enjoyable enough to count as both work and pleasure.

What is your favourite:


I’ve never really been a film person. I’ve never had the patience to sit still and pay attention long enough for the story to unfold. But I do like the idea of going to see a film. Every two or three years I go to the cinema, pick a film, get my popcorn, sit in a darkened room and prepare myself to be enthralled and entertained. I’m usually fidgeting in my seat after 10 minutes waiting for it to end. But at least the popcorn is always good!

I do remember being blown away by Pulp Fiction so I guess that’s my favourite? Can something be your favourite anything if you haven’t seen it in 10 years???


I’m not a big fan of fiction but love to read anything design related. I did my thesis on how the brain interprets different shapes, forms and colours. It’s fascinating the effect aesthetics can have on our emotions. How a thing can make us smile. One of my favourite books ever would have to be The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman.

Place in the world?

I don’t know if it’s my favourite place in the whole world but I do love Merrion Square.

I try to take at least 10 minutes every morning to go there and get my head together before the hustle and bustle of work.

The tranquillity of it is absolute bliss. I always leave there with a smile no matter how stressed I’ve been.


I love them all!

Any interesting plans/goals for this year? Personal and/or professional.

Yeah, to get my sh*t together!

 Find out more about Jenny on her website and Facebook page:


March 16, 2013


Interview with Fashion Designer Sinead Doyle

I was lucky enough to get the chance to find Sinead at her Dublin studio and pin her down for a quick here is what she has to say about being an up-and-coming fashion designer, a business person and a dog owner.
How did you get into fashion design? Was it something you always wanted to do or did you have another career before this?

I'm a movie buff and wanted to be a costume designer. Of course as soon as I specialised in Fashion at LSAD (Limerick School of Art & Design), the tutor who was a costume designer left the course and I ended up going in the fashion direction. Once I realised that everything we wear every day is a costume - in the way that it communicates something to those around us, I was happy to work in fashion. I prefer menswear and that was my college speciality but it was difficult to set up business in that.

How long have you been in business and what have been the major milestones (both good and bad)? What are the ups and downs of working for yourself? Have you made any mistakes that were total disasters or had lucky breaks that really changed things for the better?

I started out in 2008 when I moved back to Ireland (from London) just as the recession hit so that was probably total disaster no. 1. At the same time had it been a year or two earlier who knows what sort of debt I could have got myself into starting up so it's not all that bad. Back then I had a lot of goals I wanted to reach within a year that seemed impossible such as having my collection selling in shops and getting coverage in magazines so when that all began to happen it felt like major milestones although now I realise that Ireland is so small, press coverage isn't too difficult and there's a difference between getting things into shops and getting paid for them!

I started manufacturing abroad this year which is a big thing for me so I suppose that's been a major milestone in the growth of the label. The production is now done in this little family run place near Milan and the quality is amazing which really makes me happy. I've been using expensive, high quality fabrics all along but the workmanship didn't always do them justice.

Working for yourself can be a great ego boost when you get press or good reviews or customers come back repeatedly looking for more and most importantly, you get to choose the radio station at work!

I've had a lot of disasters, mainly through being naive and trusting the wrong people but something good has come out of most of these things through other people I've met and I've learned lessons along the way.

I've had some good support from the Enterprise board this year and the advice and moral support in the Council of Irish Fashion designers is great but I'm still waiting for the 'lucky break.'

About your designs:

How would you describe your designs, what materials do you use, what kind of people wear your clothes?

My clothes are contemporary luxury and mostly daywear. I use wools, silks, leather and high quality cottons. Usually my customers are city based women 35+ who buy for themselves.


Tell me about your latest/upcoming range and where is it available?

The AW13 range is the first time I've manufactured abroad and the quality is amazing, I'm really happy with it. I have a stockist in London lined up and a great one in Dublin. I'm currently negotiating with a lot of other stores to take it on but they're mostly abroad. I'll have a full list up on the website near the end of March.

What technique do you use most/is your favourite/is your trademark?

I use a lot of panelling to create very fitted clothes in a womanly shape. It's all about the tailoring. I worked on a lot of bodices and corsetry in Italy so that's brought though along with my menswear background and I think it makes my work distinct in Ireland.

What is the one piece of advice you could you offer an up and coming designer? And offer someone who is looking for an outfit...?

I think for an upcoming designer the best advice I can give is find the people who can help you and take their advice. You can't do everything on your own. That said, don't trust people blindly either. It's a fine line.

If someone is looking for an outfit I always say they should never focus on looking for something trendy. Buy something that makes you feel good or get something made that's the right colour for you and suits your body and, while it may cost more now, you'll have it for years and know it's something you'll always feel great slipping into.

Now let's get personal!

Who are your favourite designers and artists? Who or what inspires you?

When it comes to art I'm always drawn to Russian artists like Kandinsky or Chagall. Actually my favourite composers and novels are Russian too so I was probably just born in the wrong country.

Since I've never had the chance to go to St. Petersburg or Moscow, London always inspires me too. I come back from my frequent trips there bursting with inspiration from exhibitions and events I've been to. The V&A museum could generate inspiration for a million collections alone.

I know you love animals and have a dog – tell me about him please!

Jack is my baby. He's a four year old King Charles Cavalier and since they were bred to be lapdogs all he wants are cuddles and rubs all day. He loves company and is happy to sit around my studio most of the day as long as I'm there too. And he adores toddlers which is handy as I've got four nieces under 6! It's overwhelming the amount of unconditional love he has and he's incredibly intelligent of course. Words like t-r-e-a-t or d-i-n-n-e-r and especially w-a-l-k-i-e-s have to be spelled out around him.

What makes your heart nearly to burst with joy?

Mostly my dog! Also my students. I taught an evening class in image and fashion styling for a few years and some of the students are working in the industry now and I see their tweets from London Fashion Week or their name on the byline of an editorial for styling and I'm so proud of them because I know how hard they worked. I'm going to be tutoring a fashion course again soon and I can't wait.

What irritates the heck out of you?

People being late. I'm a real stickler for time and, if I am running late I'll let people know and be profusely apologetic but other people seem to think that 15-30 minutes late for something is acceptable and it drives me nuts. I always have stylists, customers and buyers making appointments and not turning up and not bothering to get in touch which drives me crazy. It's just about respecting the other person's time. It definitely comes from my Dad, we were once six hours early for a ferry, just to miss the traffic you know...

What is your favourite:


For a sci-fi obsessive, I'm going to give the strange answer of Working Girl, the 1988 classic with Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford. I suppose I'm a workaholic, my career is really important to me so I can connect to it a lot more than typical romantic comedies or 'girly' movies. It also has a great theme song, and is ridiculously quotable.


War and Peace. When I worked in Venice, getting hold of English language books was an expensive business so I would buy really thick ones to try and make them last and that's why I first approached it. (It's the closest story I've got to meeting the love of my life while in the world's most romantic place) I've re-read it so many times since discovering it and my copy automatically falls open on my favourite places that I go to when I need cheering up. The characters are incredibly well realised and they feel like old friends at this stage. I always wonder how Tolstoy could have so perfectly captured the emotions of a young girl at her first big dance in a way that modern chick lit authors could never hope to. The BBC are adapting it into a six part mini- series soon which I'm really excited about as they did a great adapted radio version. Also Audrey Hepburn in the 1956 movie has the most gorgeous costumes so anyone interested in fashion and costume needs to watch that.

It's a really intimidating book and I think people are put off by it's size but it's so rewarding it's worth it. If I've inspired anyone to try it, get the Penguin edition translated by Anthony Briggs, it makes all the difference! There's a free kindle edition floating about but it's been so literally translated word for word that all the emotion is removed...

Place in the world?

London. There's always something to do, somewhere to go and inspiration to be found. I lived there for years and always felt I fit in a lot better than anywhere in Ireland. And the public transport is fantastic.


Black. Can I count that as a colour? It's just easy.


Any interesting plans/goals for this year? Personal and/or professional.

I have plans in motion for a lot of things but I never know how things will pan out so it's best not to mention anything until it happens. I can't avoid turning 30 next month which is giving me a bit of a mid-life crisis but apart from that, nothing is certain!

Check out more about Sinead by following these links:

Thanks Sinead and stay tuned for the next designer interview!