Sheena is dressing the women of Cork for nearly 30 years

FOR almost three decades, Sheena McCarthy has been dressing the women of Cork in the finest outfits available.
Sheena is dressing the women of Cork for nearly 30 years
Sheena McCarthy of Sheena's Boutique.

How did the business start?

I was 20 when I started, and I'm 48 now so we've been here for 28 years.

My mom had a boutique in Midleton for 46 years, and she just closed two years ago.

So I was brought up in this business.

I went to college in the UK and came straight back to start my business.

I got my higher diploma in March and opened in April.

I had been back for a month while I studying, and helped my mother out in the shop and realised that I wanted to do this.

We actually started in the building next door.

My dad is a builder, so he did it up, and I worked there by myself for four years before expanding.

The property we're in now went up for sale so me and my brother bought it together 19 years ago, and I bought him out of it two years ago.

What is the business like now compared to when you started?

It's been a rollercoaster. There is huge competition online. We didn't have that 25 years ago.

You have to compete with the online businesses, but we still offer the same personal service in store.

You have to work hard. My Facebook and Instagram are very active and I'm blogging about four times a week.

That's brought a whole new clientele to us that would never have come in the door.

We have people ordering from us from places like Galway and even abroad.

I'm up 20% on this time last year. A lot of people can't say that.

It's all about adapting and moving with the times.

Down the road, God only knows where we'll be. My kids - the older ones in their teens - they don't know what it's like to go into a shop.

They click a button to order something and it turns up.

It's moving very fast.

What kind of customers do you get?

My customers would mainly be middle to upmarket.

If a mother, a daughter, and a granddaughter came in, I could dress them all.

From Easter to September we do fabulous debs dresses, but we wouldn't have that market year round.

It's women, professional people who have disposable income who can afford to buy something worth it.

We cater to a very wide range of sizes. We can fit all shapes and sizes. You can have someone come in that has no confidence, but we will have beautiful collections that can make them look a million bucks.

We can cater to all pockets too, from about €60 upwards.

Tel us about your staff.

I have seven altogether - six people and myself.

They are all great. I genuinely have an amazing team. They are all different ages.

One of them is with me about 24 years, and one of them is here about six years.

They rest are all here about a year. I have one who is 19 and just out of school.

There is an amazing mix and they are all great at what they do.

What's it like trading in the city centre?

Cork City has come on hugely in the last few years.

A lot of buildings on this street are being renovated at the moment, and it's a fantastic place to come to.

We have a lot of nice restaraunts and cafes, and we have a lot of independent businesses.

That's what makes Cork special.

People who come here are going to get wonderful service, and they will be supporting local jobs too.

There is great support in the business community too.

At the end of the day it's about working together. If I can't help someone, I'll send them on to someone else.

What's in the future for your business?

The future is hard to know, but hopefully I'll still be here.

We'll keep working hard and pressing onwards.

I love it. I have a passion for this business. If I didn't have that I wouldn't be doing it.

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