Irish Women in Business: Mairéad Traynor of Millinery by Mairéad
For the latest in our series of editorials focusing on Irish Women in Business, we’re talking to Mairéad Traynor of Millinery by Mairéad.
We caught up with her to find out how she got started and what it's like juggling work with a family…
I have always had a strong interest in fashion and design, I studied in Dublin Institute of Design and worked as an Interior Designer for several years prior to taking up Millinery. In 2007 a group of friends and I were heading to the Galway Races and we had no head attire, so I offered to make a few pieces. The feedback was good when we arrived in Galway and so I decided to pursue my interest. When we got back, I booked an intense millinery course in England and travelled over.
While working as an Interior designer, I worked evenings and weekends on my millinery collection. It was really just a hobby at first. I enjoyed creating and experimenting with new fabrics and designs. While I was off on maternity leave with my first daughter Aoife in 2009 things in the interior design field got quiet and the company I worked for closed. I decided to take this as an opportunity to focus on millinery while being able to stay at home with my daughter.
From 2009 to 2011, I worked hard building up my clientele and collection of pieces. I attended all craft and wedding fairs in the area to promote myself and thankfully it all paid off. My business grew and it became increasingly busy, as did our family with the addition of two more little girls. It became evident that working from home wasn't the ideal situation. With the support of my husband and family, I decided to separate home and work life, and I opened my shop in May 2014.
My day starts with dropping the kids to school and daycare and then I head for the shop to set up before I open at 10.00am. The average day consists of seeing clients and working on pieces in between times. I love meeting with my clients, seeing their outfits and together we come to a decision on what piece will work best to complete the desired look. When the shop closes and we have the kids in bed, I normally start ordering materials online and returning messages to clients. It's busy but I wouldn't have it any other way. Thankfully I have excellent support from my husband and family.
My best moment in my business life was when I won Best Dressed Lady at Down Royal Racecourse in 2014. Throughout 2014, two other ladies won best dressed competitions wearing my pieces and with 2015 Ladies' Days only kicking off, I have already had several finalists in both Fairyhouse and Punchestown. My aim going to the races is never about winning. It's a great opportunity for myself and my friends to get dressed up, view the other style out there and of course have a little flutter on the horses. Race days are a fun way to meet other fashion conscious ladies from throughout the country.
Millinery is a unique business. There are not too many of us in the country but it is a growing art. Every lady that wears a hat to a wedding or races will tell me how well and confident it makes them feel and that to me is unique. I am delighted to be part of that. Another unique element of my business is that I can provide bespoke one-off headpieces or hats to ladies on any budget. I have several hundred pieces available to hire from €30-€50. For those who want something extra special, I can design something that compliments her outfit beautifully.
Since opening the shop, I have ventured into unique costume jewellery, brollies, furs, pashminas and lace gloves to help finish off any special wedding or race day outfit. I would like to grow on this range. I have also had several orders from overseas and I hope to market this area of the business also.
To find out more about Millinery by Mairéad, check out the Facebook page here. To suggest other great Irish women to feature in this series, please do get in touch.