Meeting in India lead to love and new business

Ahead of the Ballymaloe Craft Fair, Liz O'Brien and Alex Ali of Caraliza, who will feature at the event, talk about the love-story behind their business
Meeting in India lead to love and new business
Liz O'Brien and Alex Ali of Caraliza.

TELL us a little bit about yourself:

We’re Liz O’Brien and Alex Ali and we met in India more than 10 years ago when Liz went backpacking there.

Ali is from Jaipur, a city in northern India while Liz is “pure Cork like!”

We fell in love and after a colourful Indian wedding, moved back to Ireland to settle down. The name of our business reflects the love-story behind it all as Caraliza contains “Cara” (the Gaelic word for friend or ‘dear one’) and “Aliza” (a combination of Ali and Liz).

We design elegant hand-crafted sterling silver gemstone jewellery; each piece is individually crafted using traditional tools and methods by our goldsmith Ashis, over in our Indian studio, using 92.5 sterling silver and the finest, most exquisite gemstones.

Caraliza designs.
Caraliza designs.

We sell our jewellery and some luxurious ethically sourced merino wool shawls online, at markets around the south of Ireland and in a couple of outlet stores around Cork.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

We like nothing better on a Friday night than to have friends around — Ali cooks a huge curry and we all relax and talk and laugh.

Lie ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

Liz: I like to get up and going first thing in the morning, but while Ali can rise at the dawn to travel to a market, I think he loves to chill out in bed for hours drinking tea and checking up on Indian news.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Well it kind of takes over completely, given we have to go to markets every Saturday and Sunday.

We make the most of our other days off though, and really enjoy going out for coffee together on those days.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

Easy — it would be Paris and we’d bring each other.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

Definitely Allihies in West Cork, a wild and rugged gorgeous spot right on the Beara Peninsula. The perfect place to escape the rigours of a busy routine.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Yes, but we’re usually both a bit wrecked after the markets so it doesn’t always happen.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Liz: I’m an avid reader, writer, health and fitness enthusiast and totally besotted with animals — if it’s got fur or feathers, I want to cuddle it!

Ali: I love watching cricket (used to play it more in India), cooking for others and watching informative documentaries online.

Caraliza designs.
Caraliza designs.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

Curry, curry and more curry!

We have so many places to eat out in Cork— where are your go to spots for coffee/lunch/special meal?

Some of our favourites include Parlour Cafe on the Coal Quay for a delicious brunch, Filter Cafe on Georges Quay (when we’re in need of some delicious strong coffee!) and Iyers on Popes Quay (which does amazing south Indian food).

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

Well, our Sunday nights come after a stretch of long, busy market days so we usually tend to just relax by the fire and watch TV.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

Monday morning for us is usually a day off so no alarm! But on our market days, it can go off as early as 5am.

Caraliza designs.
Caraliza designs.

* Caraliza Designs is a small, Cork-based business that specialises in designing and creating hand-crafted jewellery. See

They will take part in the The Ballymaloe Craft Fair from Saturday to Sunday, November 18 to 19. The event is now in its eighth year and has built a national reputation as a pre-eminent Irish Christmas shopping experience. The fair runs fron 10am to 6pm offering work by scores of Ireland’s finest crafters and artisans.

The event runs at the Ballymaloe Grainstore and The Big Shed on the grounds of Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry, East Cork.

Admission to the Ballymaloe Craft Fair is €3. Children under age 16 are free. For more information see

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