I like to think each cloud has a silver

Sharon McDermott of Ky Ky Kids talks about learning to dressmake, her love of travel and how she calms her soul
I like to think each cloud has a silver
Sharon McDermott, of Ky Ky Kids.

Tell us about yourself;

I am always busy, a self-employed mum, I am always on the go and I like being busy, but I also love time out and downtime. My work, my creative passion, is the Ky Ky Kids clothing collection. I have always had an interest and flair for design and this was enhanced during my years spent in Turkey, which is well known for cotton growing, manufacturing and textile design. In designing and manufacturing children’s clothing, the important elements are durability, quality fabric that will keep their colour and shape, machine wash is essential and of course unique style is up there too.

Where were you born?

In the Victoria Hospital, Cork (which closed some years ago). I am from Glenville, a great place and a pretty heritage village. I lived there until I was 21 when my travel job took me overseas to Turkey to work. What was meant to be a six-month contract turned into a complete change of life and I stayed working and living in Turkey for 20 years.

Where do you live?

Four years ago I relocated back to Glenville with my then five-year-old son. It was time for him to start primary school and I remembered the freedom of my own childhood.

Country life is idyllic for kids. Community is a large part of country living, Glenville has fantastic sports, outdoor activities and wonderful people. We are located just 15 minutes drive to Cork city and that opens up another lifestyle, I really enjoy popping into town to wander around the shops to check out the latest trends in kids’ and adults’ clothing. Sample one of the many cafes and the abundance of great restaurants. My favourite old haunt has to be the Old English Market which has a classic vibe of old Cork life, many of the stall owners have been there for generations and there is a lovely addition of new life too.

Family?

I am the second of four kids, my parents had the local Post Office, which was in my dad’s family for 130 years, the centre of any small village and rural life.

I was brought up helping and serving behind the counter. It thought me many life skills and the most important one, ‘communication’.

With Ky Ky Kids I work with retailers such as Hydes of Midleton, Murray’s, Charleville and the Baby Boutique — Castle Street, my experience serving the public in the post office helps me to understand their needs.

Earliest memory:

My earliest childhood memory is baking at the kitchen table with my grandmother and dressmaking with my mum. It was a regular event as my grandmother made brown bread and scones every day. I loved helping out and I still remember the glorious smell of the scones cooking and when they came out of the oven.

Dressmaking, fabrics and style was something I enjoyed even as a child and I guess it is not a surprise I now work in children’s clothing.

Ky Ky Kids.
Ky Ky Kids.

Person you most admire?

I admire anyone who has get up and go. Anyone who is strong enough to get on with life, no matter what it throws at them, and continues to learn, grow and bring others who may need help along their positive journey with them.

Person who most irritates you?

I find negativity very tiring. Life can be tough for people, however, everyone has something to carry or something to deal with, it is how that is managed that makes the difference. I am generally a very positive person, I like to see every cloud with a silver lining and nothing is bad or a mistake if you learn something from it.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

As I worked in the travel industry for many years, I was lucky enough to have experienced amazing holidays, far and near. Probably the most memorable and the longest trip was to Australia in 1995 with my best friend. We were both working in Turkey together so we planned a 10 week holiday to Australia as we had lots of friends and family there working for a year. We travelled via Amsterdam to Bali, I still remember how beautiful and calm it was, with gentle, kind people and incredible scenery.

We travelled all around Oz, taking in the Great Barrier Reef, Perth, Sydney and lots in between. It’s a must for any young person, the lifestyle is vibrant and carefree. We then explored Thailand on the way home, to experience Bangkok... a few days was not enough for all the beautiful sights. Then onto the Golden Triangle to the north, Changmai. We took a walking tour through the jungle and of course that included working with elephants.

Favourite TV programme?

I have a love of all things old, especially furniture and textiles. My favourite program is Salvage Hunters. I love the journeys around the UK and Europe, visiting old country homes, salvage yards and antique shops, sourcing what others have no use for. A lot are repaired or recycled and sold on. I am a strong believer of ‘passing’ things on... I hate waste.

Favourite radio show?

I drive a lot for work, visiting customers and meeting new retailers, so I send a lot of time in my car. I love Matt Cooper, apart from being a fellow Corkonian, his program The Last Word debates current affairs as well as everyday issues on our island.

Your signature dish if cooking?

I love cooking and I cook every day. After so many years in Turkey visiting farmers’ markets several times a week, with their fresh organic produce, it inspired me to try lots of different, new recipes. I lived and worked with people from all over the world, so I had the pleasure of learning and sharing their traditional food and recipes.

I also love to eat so that’s another good reason to cook. For friends, I tend to choice what I call a ‘1 Pot Wonder”... a favourite is a full chicken cooked very slowly in the oven with a lot of stock, wine, herbs and veg.

My son’s favourite, which we have every Saturday morning, is pancakes with either fruit or Nutella.

Favourite restaurant?

I love to cook and I also love to eat out. In Cork our family favourite (my son’s) is Scoozi’s. I have been going there too many years to remember and it still has its charm, good food and super service. My favourite food is fish... and my favourite restaurant is a small family-run restaurant on a Greek island I visit every summer, where the fish comes off the boat in front of you, onto the BBQ and then straight onto the plate.

Last book you read?

I am reading Becoming, Michelle Obama’s autobiography at the moment. It’s a beautiful insight to her very normal upbringing, her life journey, her strengths, her loving nature and her role as a mum first, then a working mum and the challenges along the way which every mother can relate to.

Best book you read?

I have read Mindfulness by Danny Penman many times over many years and I still learn something new every time I read it.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

I love music, I find it calming and relaxing. When I’m home I always have music on in the background. I have a very eclectic range of CDs ... old fashioned, I know, but I love playing some of my very old music.

Favourite song?

This song brings back very old memories of a warm summer holiday in West Cork with my family, I found Van Morrison and My Brown Eyed Girl.... when I listen to that song, it transports me back to the exact place and time I first heard it.

Morning person or night owl?

I must admit, I can be a bit of both. As the years pass, I am now a lover of a good night’s sleep, I love nothing more than to get up early when the house is quiet for morning coffee to start my day. Mornings tend to be my most productive time to work. I start by checking emails, social media and going through my diary and plan for the day. My website can be busy as people find the right dress or outfit for their children especially when the search is on for a special family occasions such as communions, confirmations and family weddings.

When orders have come in, the morning is the best time to prepare for deliveries for the day.

Your proudest moment?

In 2018, I won an award in Cork for the Female Entrepreneur of the Year, it was a complete surprise and honour to be nominated and a joy to win. It is not always easy to be self-employed, so I was thrilled and shocked to be recognised as an ‘entrepreneur” and to be considered good at it by my peers.

For my business there have been a few proud moments as this has been a long journey with huge learning curves. A few moments that stand out were when my first season of clothing arrived with my Ky Ky Kids labels... to see my labels on my clothing was proof we had taken a huge step forward, I had a brand. It took a huge amount of work to get to where I am now and while I still have loads to do, sometimes we get lost in ‘getting the job done’ so it’s important to stop and take in those precious moments.

In my personal life, my proudest moment was the arrival of my wonderful son, who fills everyday with fun and joy.

Spendthrift or saver?

I sounds very boring but I very much live within my means, so if it’s been a good week, I can definitely spend and believe it’s important to treat yourself... reap the benefits of your hard work.

On the other hand, when I need to reel it in, I can without a problem.

What makes you happy?

The simple things in life make me happy. A good laugh with my son or seeing him smile. The pleasure of good food, a night out with friends and a few gins. Walking in the country is my detox... it clears my head, calms my soul and revives my spirit. I am a country girl at heart!

How would you like to be remembered?

As I grow Ky Ky Kids, I want it to be more than just sales, and I want ‘it’ to give back. I hope in time this business will help and improve other people’s lives. I hope to employ another mum who would like to work but cannot find flexibility or just needs a chance if they have been home mothering their kids for year, to get back to working life to improve finances, but also their self-esteem.

So I would like to be remembered as someone who made a difference, who served others, was honest, hardworking and caring. Who gave everyone a chance and did not judge. Not forgetting that I was great fun, enjoyed a good laugh and always said “nothing is the end of world and there is always another way”.

What else are you up to at the moment?

The Spring/Summer Collection has just landed so it is our busy time, when we visit our customers and start deliveries to shops. Our online shop/website is also busy as dresses are selected for Communions, Confirmations and family occasions. See https://shopkykykids.ie/

We are already starting to work on AW 19, I have just finished my designs for the new Flower Girl collection, it is hard to think so far ahead but I have to allow for manufacturing and delivery from Turkey, we are always working six months ahead.

* Cork entrepreneur, Sharon McDermott of Ky Ky Kids, has won a place at the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) National Enterprise Awards in Tullamore on 16 May. Nominated by Cork City City Partnership, Sharon will compete with entrepreneurs from all over Ireland who have been selected by local development companies.

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