Extraordinary Women: Stephanie Roche

EW Stephanie Roche

It was an honour to speak to Stephanie Roche for the Extraordinary Women series and I sincerely hope that she wins the FIFA Puskás Award tomorrow, not because she is female, but because she is a player who possesses incredible skill, discipline and love for her sport.

In 2009, the FIFA Puskás Award was established, honouring Ferenc Puskás, Hungarian international and striker for Real Madrid in the late fifties and sixties. In 528 matches, Puskás scored 512 goals. The award is given to the ‘most aesthetically significant, or most beautiful’ goal of the year and is decided by public vote. Previous winners include Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres and Andrés Iniesta.

The eleventh FIFA Puskás Award winner will be announced tomorrow evening at FIFA’s Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich. The three finalists include Robin van Persie, James Rodríguez and Stephanie Roche. The former two goals were scored at the World Cup in Brazil whilst Stephanie occurred in front of just ninety five spectators in October 2013 when Peamount United played against Wexford Youths.

Stephanie Roche is both the first Irish player and the first woman to be a nominee and a finalist for the award. Upon the announcement, a media frenzy occured with David Luiz, Ian Wright, Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker heralding Stephanie’s talent and skill.

On the eve of the ceremony, Stephanie’s goal has been viewed more than two million times and whilst this competition has catapulted her to immeasurable fame, Stephanie continues to make time to speak to and advise the young girls who spectate at matches.

EW Stephanie Roche

How would you describe yourself both personally and professionally?

I suppose I’m an outgoing, happy person and most people who know me will tell you that I’m confident and honest. Professionally, I think being honest is of huge value as I’m always straight up with people and I get on with most of the players. That really helps!

What first drew you to football?

My two brothers were always involved in football and when I was very young, my Dad coached too. I just loved football from an early age, I was always out on the street playing football with my friends and if I wasn’t out with my friends, I’d be with my brothers and if I wasn’t with them, I’d be out on the street on my own playing football. I was never really without a football and anyone who lived in the estate where I grew up will be able to tell you that, I’d be constantly kicking a ball against their wall and I’m really lucky that the love for football has always stayed with me.

How has football continued to keep your interest?

At the age of fourteen or fifteen, a lot of the girls who I trained with, stopped playing but there were a couple of us, like myself and Áine O’Gorman, who loved football and gave up almost everything for it. We put football first ahead of everything and there’s no real explanation as to why we did that. I was lucky to get into the Irish squad and that gave me a focus and a goal to reach for and work towards. I always wanted to play for a senior Irish team and I’m really fortunate to have done and to do that. My goal was always to work as hard as I could so that I could play on the Irish team and aim to play professionally. I was really lucky that I had that focus and such support from my family and friends too.

You mentioned having to give up everything for football, in those early years were people understanding that perhaps you didn’t have as much free time as your classmates?

To be honest, I don’t think that they had much of an option ha! If I had a match or training, that’s what I went to. All of my friends did know that if a night out was happening or if people were getting together, their first port of call would be to check if Steph has a match. They know what I’m like and that I would never go out if I had a match the following day. It’s something that my family and friends have got used to over the years. My family are hugely supportive and particularly my Dad, he has been my biggest supporter for all of my life and he always encouraged me to try my hardest. My friends and family understand that with me, football comes first and I’m lucky that not only do they respect that but they encourage it too.

It’s been over a year since that acclaimed goal against Wexford Youths was recorded but how have you changed as a person and as a player since then?

I think as a player, I grew some confidence from it. It’s amazing to see so many people talking about my goal and I’d like to think that this didn’t just happen by chance as I do score goals, not maybe as good as that particular one, but near to that most weeks at training and at matches. Previous to this, I didn’t think it would ever be noticed and not just me but on the whole, in the Women’s National League in Ireland, a lot of the players don’t get noticed nor do they get recognition for what they are doing. It was nice for me to get recognised as a player but it was also great to get an opportunity to place the Women’s National League in the spotlight. As a person, it has made me appreciate what football can bring to me and the many opportunities it has given me in the past. Even before the goal happened, I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world and to play for my country. That’s something that a lot of people, either male or female, haven’t had the fortune of doing. It’s made me appreciate and understand why I love football so much.

Over the past couple of months, the support which you have gained for the Puskas Goal of the Year Awards has been phenomenal both from the layman and the football community. What experiences have you had in relation to the family that is football?

When I played at home with Peamount United, Raheny United would have been our biggest rivals but so many of the players from that team have come together to support me, it’s been incredible. In saying that, if in the future colleagues or rival team players were involved in something like this, I would be doing my best to publicise their hard work and would give them as much support as I could. I mean, it’s not really about me at the minute, it’s about women’s football and I’m doing everything I can to try to promote it. I’m the first person in Ireland to be nominated for something like this and to be shortlisted to the final three, I’m honoured to be representing Ireland and at the same time, to be representing women’s football.

The support and almost family relations that exists between players, is that unique to teams in Ireland or does it also exist in France?

With the language barrier, it’s quite different for me in France with ASPTT Albi and although there has been quite a lot of support here, it’s a challenge for me as I don’t really understand what’s going on to be honest… I’ve had strangers come up to me in the street and say ‘Congratulations!’ and ask me for pictures and stuff. It’s been a bit surreal. Much like the way the support from Ireland has been so incredible, it’s amazing to feel that people who I have never met before genuinely think that I deserve this.

In relation to that language barrier, how have you had to accommodate your skills or body language to facilitate that?

I’ve been in France for over five months and have picked up some of the basics in language. I understand far more than I can say but on the pitch, I very quickly learned the keywords that I needed in order to get the ball or where to be or where to move. It’s off the pitch where I have the greatest challenge. We train five days a week and a match one day a week. It’s been difficult as after training, I just come back home. I did prepare myself mentally and physically to be here and knew that sometimes I would feel lonely being away from my family and my boyfriend but it’s been extra hard due to the language barrier. It is something that perhaps I didn’t really think about before I came to France, I just wanted to play football at a professional level and although it’s been tough, the sport itself is making it worthwhile.

It seems that the greatest challenge in encouraging women to play football is not at the childhood stage as those who want to play, will find an outlet but as girls and women grow older, maintaining their interest and their attendance is difficult. Do you have any ideas on what can be done to encourage girls to stay playing the sport?

I think young girls will only play football if they really think that they will enjoy it or if their friends play. It’s when they get to the age of fourteen or fifteen that perhaps they begin to be distracted by other things and realise that with football, they can’t do everything. It’s there where we need to keep girls involved and throughout this whole journey, some people have said that what’s happening to me right now, might give young girls a goal and a focus that previously they might not have had in football. Seeing the popularity or attention that I’m getting at the moment, without sounding like too much of an idiot, it might inspire girls to realise that if they work hard and train as I did, this could be them in a few years time. It’s great to see women getting the recognition that they deserve in sport and particularly football, we put the same amount of effort and work into our sport as most of the men do and they’re in news and receive praise nearly every day. It’s great that it’s finally our turn!

Is that role of being a female ambassador for football and for sport something which you embrace or is there an element of pressure involved too?

To be honest with you, it’s something I’ve only even begun to think about. Growing up, playing for Ireland was something that I wanted to do for myself. It was never my intention to do it because young girls were looking at me, I didn’t even know or realise that it could be a possibility. Since the goal went viral, there has been an increase in the number of girls in the stands watching matches and wanting to talk to me after the game. I’ll always make time for them. I usually spend half an hour or forty minutes after a game speaking to young girls, giving them jerseys and finding small ways to try to keep them interested. I think I’ve embraced it more than anything, I don’t want to do anything wrong but I would like to believe that I’m a nice and genuine person so I never really think of myself as an inspiration or anything mad like that but I’m really happy that young girls do look up to me and I’m quite proud to be able to say that I’m a role model to young girls.

If we look past January 12th and the awards ceremony, the media frenzy that is surrounding you and female football at the moment, what would you like this phenomenon to be a vehicle for? Is it to create a different perception of female footballers, is it to get FIFA and the FAI to question where they place their funding?

I think there’s a lot of interest in women’s football at the moment but the main factor which needs to be addressed is funding, as you said. I watched Germany play England in Wembley late last year and they had 45,000 people at the game, that just shows that people have a huge appetite for watching football and that if women’s football is put on show and publicised, people will have an interest and might attend. That takes a lot of funding and I know that at the minute, women’s football perhaps doesn’t give back as much as the men’s football but at the same time, if there is money invested in our sport, FIFA and the FAI will reap the rewards. It needs funding and it needs publicity. Technically, we have excellent skilled footballers all around the world, if people knew where and when they were playing, I genuinely believe that they would really enjoy watching and supporting us.

I think we all have an element of responsibility, not just particular bodies or broadcasters but the ordinary person, we need to be in the stands or watching the match on television.

Definitely! RTÉ have given the Women’s National League quite a bit of support, they showed the Women’s National Cup Final on TV for the past two years, which prior to that had never happened before. We really hope that continues and that they broadcast the highlights of our matches on ‘Soccer Republic’ too. For me, the next step would be to have a highlights show of just the Women’s League and I think that can be easily done. It might only be a half hour show but it’s something that I would love to see, the quality of women’s football in Ireland is incredible and a lot of the girls give up a huge amount to play and I really believe that they deserve it.

In football, I imagine you experience a spectrum of emotions but as a person, how do you manage that rollercoaster of emotions that is innate to the career?

Anyone who plays football knows that it is a very emotional game. When I was younger, if I wasn’t playing in the match I wouldn’t be happy – something which my old managers will be well able to tell you about. As a player, I’ve definitely matured and I still want to be playing every game but I do understand that only eleven people can play. When I first arrived in France, I didn’t start or even play in every match, I would sit there watching the games and the players and knew that I could do what my teammates were doing but I understood my manager’s decisions and choices. That can be hard and even when I am playing a match, if something goes wrong, I would spend the evening texting my friend Áine (O’Gorman) and together we would break down what went right or what went wrong in our respective matches. That feeling of doing something wrong doesn’t leave you though, it could go on for days but it’s not something that I think you can extract from football. If I came away from a game, having either played or not played, and didn’t feel annoyed about something or didn’t want to improve something, I think that would be the first sign that I no longer loved the game.

Perhaps it’s an Irish-ism that we dwell on the negatives rather than celebrating the positives, do you take time to almost compliment yourself or appreciate the moment if something good happens in a game?

If I played a game where I scored a goal and we won and within the match there were one or two things that didn’t go well, I wouldn’t dwell on those negatives and would always celebrate the game but most professional footballers or even athletes will tell you that they constantly work hard to improve and get better. That’s what I strive for.

Throughout this entire voting campaign, was there any one moment in that manic frenzy that was particularly unexpected?

I think seeing my goal being analysed by John Hartson on BBC and the way in which he treated the analysis professionally was incredible. He slowed it down and explained to the audience exactly what happened. He looked at the goal and defined it as great, regardless of me being female and the fact that he said it was the best of the three obviously helped but it was nice to see him to do that. Also, there has been so much support from people on Twitter, Facebook and on the TV, to see it receiving such an amount of recognition has been incredible.

Being a year younger than you, the fact that I will soon be approaching my thirties somewhat terrifies me but what do you aspire to achieve and do, either personally or professionally, within the next five years?

Professionally, I would love to play full-time with the Irish team and to get to a final with those girls, many of them I’ve grown up with, would be fantastic. That would be my number one goal, professionally. Personally, I don’t really know as I haven’t really had that much time to have a personal life, outside of football but I always said that I would like to have a family but I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. I’ll put it on hold for a while but sometime in the future, I’d like to get a house with my boyfriend and start a life together but for now, football is the main focus for both of us.

Thank you so much to Stephanie, Karla and Gerry for their time and support. You can follow Stephanie’s journey via Instagram and Twitter but there are just hours left to vote for Stephanie Roche to win FIFA’s Puskás Award, please vote here.

Further ‘Extraordinary Women’ can be found here.

Competition: Step Into the Story at Kildare Village

Kildare Village Competition

I like to think of myself as a good present-buyer. For birthdays, Christmas and other festivities, I put quite a lot of thought into the gifts I purchase and how it could reflect the interests or personality of the recipient. I love seeing the reaction of friends and family when they wrestle with wrapping paper and sellotape, eventually uncovering their gift but that’s not the sole part of the process that I enjoy.

I love the ease with which we can shop online, transactions can be made from the most comfortable of locations and I feel no guilt in wearing a giraffe onesie whilst doing so. However, I miss the human interaction that shopping often requires. The shared excitement when the sales assistant asks whom the gift is for or the opportunity to meander down Grafton Street and treat yourself to a Butlers steaming white hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream, of course.

Various retailers have attempted to harness that personal element in their seasonal campaigns but few have executed it as well as Kildare Village. Titled ‘Step Into the Story’, they have created three different narratives whereby a father & son, best friends and a couple, each purchase luxury items which are intrinsically linked to the personalities of the recipient. The campaign is succinct but beautifully illustrates the caliber of brands available and the festive spirit which Kildare Village has cultivated just over 50 kilometres from Dublin.

Kildare Village Competition

Earlier this week, Kildare Village inquired if I would be interested in offering a €100 voucher as a competition prize to you, the reader. Of course, I said yes! With brands including Louise Kennedy, Anya Hindmarch, Kate Spade, Nike and DKNY available, I have no doubt that you will be spoiled for choice.

The competition will last for a week with the winner announced on Christmas Eve. Making my inaugural visit to Kildare Village is at the top of my new year resolutions but if you have recommendations as to which boutique I should visit first, I’m all ears!

Step Into The Story at Kildare Village with Minnie Mélange

British Fashion Awards 2014

BFA 2014

The British Fashion Awards was first founded in 1989 with the inaugural ceremony taking place at the Royal Albert Hall. Seven awards were presented. Almost twenty five years later, the British Fashion Awards is a highlight in the industry’s calendar, comprised of seventeen categories of nominees; a mélange of the most prolific established and emerging talents within the domain.

In 2014, Alexander McQueen and our very own, JW Anderson led with two nominations each whilst Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour OBE, accepted the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’. Sponsored by Swarovski and hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, I imagine those who purchased tickets (ranging from £30 – £500) found rubbing shoulders with editors, models and designers alike, a rather worthwhile investment.

Last night, Naomi Campbell, Karlie Kloss, Harry Styles, Kylie Minogue, John Galliano, Nick Grimshaw and Anna Kendrick were among those who presented the awards. You can watch the entire show in segments below.

The night’s seventeen winners included:

  • Emerging Womenswear Designer: Marques’Almeida
  • Emerging Menswear Designer: Craig Green
  • Emerging Accessories Designer: Prism
  • Red Carpet Designer: Alexander McQueen
  • Model: Cara Delevingne
  • Special Recognition Award: Chris Moore
  • Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creation: Edward Enninful
  • International Designer: Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton
  • Outstanding Achievement Award: Anna Wintour OBE
  • Creative Campaign: Louis Vuitton
  • New Establishment Designer: Simone Rocha
  • Establishment Designer: Preen
  • Brand: Victoria Beckham
  • British Style Award: Emma Watson
  • Accessory Designer: Anya Hindmarch
  • Menswear Designer: J.W. Anderson
  • Womenswear Designer: Erdem

If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, my patriotic tendencies may have been evident when both J.W. Anderson and Simone Rocha took home awards. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, Jonathan Anderson worked in Brown Thomas and I can only begin to imagine how proud John Rocha was of his daughter.

Last night was Cara Delvingne’s second occasion to receive the British Fashion Award for Model of the Year and whilst her reputation within the industry has only further ascended, I would have been tempted to award the title to Jourdan Dunn.

When the nominees were announced in December, I was somewhat shocked that Burberry was not listed for a single nomination. For me, the obvious category for their nomination would have been ‘Brand of the Year’ and although I think that Victoria Beckham is extremely deserving of the award, it surprised me that not one of the three nominees showcase their collections at London Fashion Week. Victoria exhibits her work in London whilst McQueen and Stella McCartney present in Paris.

Finally, earlier this year I had a fascinating conversation with designer, Peter O’Brien. Once the head designer for Chloé and Rochas, we discussed the longevity of a brand after the absence of the founding designer. Within Chanel, it’s somewhat easier to replicate Coco’s vision with quilted leather, tweed and the interlocking c’s. For other designers, the codes of the house are not as explicit. One such brand is Alexander McQueen where Sarah Burton is at the helm. Burton is an incredibly talented individual and greatly deserved last night’s two nominations but winning the Red Carpet Award left me confused. What is worn on the red carpet by celebrities and models alike are beautifully intricate designs with exquisite attention to detail but often in Alexander McQueen’s case, they are alien to the visceral and extreme aesthetic which Lee Alexander McQueen cultivated. Is that a negative? Perhaps not but it’s most certainly different and maybe that needs to be addressed.

What were your thoughts on last night’s awards? Were you satisfied with the outcomes?

Minnie Meets… Jonathan Dickins

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“I didn’t meet any other managers, I only met him – and I made my mind up that I wanted him to manage me before he made his mind up that he wanted to manage me.”

These were the words denoted by Adele in her opening address at the Music Week Awards in 2012. She was at the ceremony to present the ‘Manager of the Year’ Award to Jonathan Dickins, her own manager. Six years earlier, Jonathan founded September Management and within eight years, a portfolio of incredible musicians from Jamie T to London Grammar have blossomed under his care and guidance.

Music and the industry itself, are in Jonathan’s blood. His grandfather, Percy Dickins co-founded NME Magazine and in 1952, he invented what we now know as the pop chart. His father, is a booking agent working with artists such as Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Neil Young and Jamiroquai whilst his uncle, Rob Dickins, was at the helm of Universal Music UK for most of the eighties / nineties and simultaneously constructed songs such as Cher’s ‘Believe’ and Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’.

At the Web Summit last month, I had the honour and privilege to sit down with Jonathan and discuss his motivations, his definition of success and questioned why saying no can be a positive.

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How would you describe yourself, both personally and professionally?

I always define myself as both a Dad and as a manager. 

Within the music industry the Dickins name is somewhat of a legacy. Did that instill any fear or concern in you when you first ventured into this domain? 

Fear? I was terrified! My family were and are so involved in the business, you couldn’t help but be a little nervous about it. Though, I’ll be honest, my transition into the music industry would not have been as smooth without some of those connections but having a family in the industry can be both your greatest strength and your biggest weakness. I began in the industry by working with my uncle, (Rob Dickins) someone that I get on very well with but it was only when I began to work for myself that I really felt like I was no longer in my family’s shadow. I’ve been really lucky! 

I would define luck as the moment where hard work meets opportunity. 

I would agree. We have an incredible team at September Management who work ridiculously hard! 

Speaking of your team, what do you look for when you are recruiting within September Management?

Someone once told me that you should hire people who are better than you and I think that’s very true. September Management began from a bedroom in my house and the majority of the team have grown with the company, almost since the very beginning. The most important element of the team is that the people who work with me love what they do and have such an intense passion for music. That’s essential!

On the Music Summit Stage, you spoke about being somewhat baffled as to why artists over-publicise themselves and saturate the market with their branding. Thus, you and your artists say ‘no’ quite often. On what basis do you make such decisions?

For me, 70% of my work and the decisions that I make are based on gut instinct. The other 30% comes from experience. Perhaps other people would question the maths of that but I think it has worked well for us so far. 

In 2012, you were awarded ‘Manager of the Year’ at the Music Week Awards and Adele’s album ’21’ became the first album to sell over three million digital copies but in terms of your career, how do you define success? 

Winning ‘Manager of the Year’ was amazing and receiving recognition is incredible. I could do the cliché thing and say that winning awards means nothing but honestly, that’s bullshit. However, the true definition of success for me is being able to do something that you are incredibly passionate about every single day and I am so fortunate that I am able to do that. 

September Management has been in existence for eight years but how do you envisage the future of the company?

I want to keep doing what we are doing. Deliberately, we keep our roster of artists small so that we can concentrate our time and efforts into each of them. As we grow I want to continue to cultivate the culture and ethos that we created in the early days of September Management which is that the artist is our priority but creating music and especially brilliant music is the most important element of all. 

My final question for you, Jonathan – what do you think is the specific element that makes music brilliant?

I’m probably the worst person to answer that question because it’s strange, most of the music that becomes a hit, I don’t really like it. That’s what’s so great about Adele, London Grammar, Jamie T and many of our other artists – I love what they do. They’re the anomaly.

Thanks so much to Jonathan, Katy and Niall for all of their assistance in the organisation of this interview. To take a glimpse at the full music roster of September Management, you can find their website here.

If you enjoyed this interview, there’s quite the possibility that you may find the other ‘Minnie Meets’ conversations interesting too. You can find them here.

Minnie Meets… Justin Cooke

Justin Cooke

As a teenager, Justin Cooke was the post-runner for Tom Ford, when Ford was at the helm at Gucci. At eighteen, Cooke had the title of PR & Marketing at Stella McCartney whilst at twenty five, he was named the Global Vice President of Public Relations at Burberry. His stint with Christopher Bailey and Angela Ahrendts lasted seven years before taking on the role of Chief Marketing Officer for Topshop.

His appetite for innovation and creativity within the fashion domain has been well-documented particularly with projects such as Burberry’s ‘Art of the Trench’ and Topshop’s ‘Shop the Show’ campaigns. However, after almost fifteen years enveloped by the fashion domain, Cooke’s thirst for disruptive innovation was no longer quenched by the industry.

Inspired by his mentor, Sir Philip Green, Cooke departed Topshop to lay the foundations for his own digital consultancy, Innovate 7. Their first product, Tunepics, is similar to Instagram in format but with the addition of an ability to link images to music via iTunes and the possibility of denoting the emotional experience which that inspires.

At this year’s Web Summit in Dublin, Justin Cooke spoke about ‘What Millennials Want’ on the Marketing Stage alongside Philippe von Burries of Refinery29, Brian Lovell of Red Agency and Jane McDaid of Thinkhouse. I was fascinated by the discussion and feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview Justin after the session.

Justin Cooke

How would you describe yourself both personally and professionally?

I’m a highly emotional person that likes to understand and connect with other people and how they’re feeling – it’s a Piscean trait. I like knowing the things that people aren’t going to say or don’t want to say and having an understanding on how to communicate with them and help them to express the things that they don’t find easy. That’s a really important part of my personality in both a personal and professional context. 

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Extraordinary Women: Nicole Turner

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October has been designated as Dwarfism Awareness Month. I used this thirty-one day period as a vehicle to express some of the challenges which I face in quotidian life. It has also been an extremely powerful platform to address questions that friends, family and followers may have – particularly through social media.

One of my personal highlights from this month was speaking about difference, disability and questioning the labels which society assigns us at the One Young World conference. With 1,300 delegates in attendance from over 194 different countries, it was the definition of an incredible experience.

With only hours until November begins and with Little People of Ireland celebrating their 17th annual convention this weekend, I wanted to celebrate the denouement of Dwarfism Awareness Month in a very particular way.

Nicole Turner is but twelve years of age and is the youngest person to be interviewed for the ‘Extraordinary Women’ series to date, but do not let that fool you. She is incredibly disciplined, articulate and passionate about swimming and very soon will be competing to represent Ireland at The Paralympic Games.

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Nicole, tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Nicole Turner, I’m twelve years old and I live in Co. Offaly.

I hear that you are the most famous person in Offaly, just after Brian Cowen.

I’m not sure, but I’d like to think so. (*laughs*)

Do you enjoy school, Nicole?

It’s great – I love it. I’m in sixth class in Cloneyhurke National School and there’s a total of five people in my class. There’s no bullying in my school and all of my friends are really supportive.

You mentioned that your friends are really supportive but what do you mean by that?

It’s never happened to me before but if another student, maybe someone in the younger classes, came up to me and asked me why I was small, they would be there for me and explain to them that I am just the same as every other sixth class student in the school.

Now, you and I both understand what we mean when we describe ourselves as ‘small’ but if someone was reading this who did not know neither you nor me, how would you explain it to them?

A few years ago, I heard you talking about how you explain it to the students that you teach – that we are the same as everyone else but our arms and legs are just a little bit shorter. That’s how I describe it to people now too!

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Minnie Meets… Zoë Jordan

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Stepping into Havana Boutique, I was immediately enamoured by the wealth of designers and intricate pieces which are available in-store. Nestled into a side-street in Donnybrook, you could find Simone Rocha’s beautiful pearl-encrusted Autumn/Winter ’14 collection hanging alongside the ruched skirts of American designer, Rick Owens.

I meandered into the store, not to fawn over their garments but to meet London-based Irish designer, Zoë Jordan. As the daughter of Formula 1 driver, Eddie Jordan, it would be easy but untrue to think that Zoë’s success stems from her family’s notoriety. With a background in finance and a clear vision as to what her design aesthetic is and how it may develop, the client-base which she has assembled is because of her own merit.

Collaborating with Havana Boutique, the designer showcases ‘Chicane’, her Autumn/Winter ’14 collection in a two week pop-up shop. Even as one of her first Irish endeavours, it proves promising but I’m eagerly anticipating what Zoë does next.

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How would you describe yourself both personally and professionally?

Oh gosh, I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I am probably a mixture of being quite balanced and laid-back versus a perfectionist, quite anal, someone who likes to succeed and a person who seeks out challenges and adventure.

Is it easy to balance those two elements of your personality?

I go with my gut and what feels most comfortable on any given day – particularly when I’m making decisions.

When you were growing up, you were surrounded by mechanics and you were the little girl who played with the ants and the worms but what first drew you to the fashion domain?

I have always been quite drawn to the design world, I loved design at school and went on to study architecture in college. My designs are quite mathematical and almost formulaic which perhaps stems from my background in finance and analytics but it is also because of the way I was brought up. From a young age, I was travelling a lot, seeing a lot and I think fashion is something, even without knowing, that my family were quite involved and interested in, in their own way. When I worked in the city, I wanted to feel that I was being taken seriously by people and fashion just felt natural to me.

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For What It’s Worth

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Whilst walking through Dublin this afternoon, it began to rain. Within minutes, what was a light shower, quickly became torrential and I had forgotten my umbrella. In the midst of searching for shelter, I crossed paths with a man who appeared to be homeless and was asking passers-by for their loose change. Reaching into my coat pocket, I had less than one euro in coppers and apologised for the small amount but placed the coins into his polystyrene cup.

As I continued my fast-paced walk, I heard someone calling ‘Love, love, love’ from behind me. I turned around and the man who I had just given money to was trying to gain my attention and was asking me to come back to where he was sitting on the concrete. He asked me if I had an umbrella and having explained that I’d left mine in college, he offered me a navy teddy-bear umbrella; one of the very few possessions he had on his person. I refused and said that I couldn’t take it from him but it fell on deaf ears. He told me that the rain was too heavy and I would get sick if I was walking around in it for much longer. He placed the umbrella in my hand and merely asked me to return it the next time that we run into each other.

Umbrella1

I was completely flabbergasted. I asked him his name, introduced myself and shook his hand. The rain continued to worsen and as I raced back to college, I could not help but think of how cold and wet that man must now be. Two hours later, the weather cleared and Dublin experienced some brief sunshine. With the umbrella and a thank you card in-hand, I meandered back to the location where I first met him and luckily, he was still there. Shaking his hand, I thanked him for his generosity and incredible kindness. His response? You’re welcome.

How often do we walk past the people living on our streets and think little of them or even worse, ignore them completely?

An umbrella doesn’t have great monetary value but when you are homeless, it’s worth is more lucrative than money. For the rest of the day I found myself asking, if the roles had been reversed today, would I have offered my umbrella? I hope the answer would be yes.

Extraordinary Women: Áine Lawlor

EW Aine Lawlor

This blog began as a college assignment, whilst I was studying to be a primary school teacher. It was never supposed to amount to anything other than be a fictitious link between my prospective class and their parents.

Several years later, it is somewhat unfathomable that it has provided me with several opportunities to converse with and meet such an array of talented and incredible people. As inane as it might sound, sometimes it feels a little surreal.

One such ‘surreal’ moment occurred earlier this month; it involved me drinking tea with RTÉ broadcaster, Áine Lawlor. ‘Morning Ireland’ was the soundtrack to my college commute for almost five years and hearing news bulletin at 9am was my measure as to whether or not I was late for lectures.

Áine is the presenter of RTÉ One’s ‘The Week in Politics’ and the co-presenter of RTÉ Radio One’s ‘News at One’ but more than that, she is one of the most warm and generous people you could meet. Conversations with Áine challenge your biases and alter your perspective – even when you’re discussing gardening!

EW Aine Lawlor

How would you describe yourself both professionally and personally?

I’m a woman, I’m a journalist, I’m a mother, I’m a wife, I’m a sister, I’m a daughter, I’m a friend and I’m lucky. They are all challenging but I get to enjoy them all and I revel in each experience and role.

What first drew you to the profession of journalism?

It kind of happened by accident. I was President of the Students Union when I was in college which probably meant that I was a blabbermouth and a bit of a student activist. When I left college in the mid-eighties, my Mum was sick so I didn’t emigrate like most of my friends. I kind of ended up in RTÉ’s newsroom and I’m just lucky that it suited me.

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