TWO of Cork’s most established fashionistas are encouraging women to swap Facetime for face-to-face time with new initiatives aimed at sparking real-life conversations.
Emer O’Mahony and Vivienne Kelly of Lockdown PR have many strings to their bows. With more than 15 years experience in modelling, event management and brand development, the founders of Cork Fashion Week know a thing or two about networking. Their newest passion projects the focus on helping other women make connections and share their stories.
Kicking off the new year, they hosted a networking brunch in the Cornstore at the weekend, aptly titled, ‘Women in the Spotlight’.
The duo invited women from a cross-section of the arts, media, sport and business together to make connections and hopefully support each other down the line.
The morning also saw the launch of their new venture ‘The Life Hustle’, a YouTube channel established to use social media to uplift people with inspirational conversations and interviews. The new projects came following a period of reflection, where the women took stock of where they were going after both becoming mothers.
“After 15 years in business, we had really never taken the time out to stop and evaluate what we had done,” Emer explained.
“We’d always trucked on and never really had the time for reflection and time to look at where we were going.
“We went to the Local Enterprise Office and Veronica Murphy literally listened to us like nobody has ever listened to us before and championed us, and built us up and helped steer us in a new direction and evolve.”
Events, Emer says, have always been the core of what Lockdown do, with a particular focus on ensuring local homegrown talent is advertised and given a platform. Drawing on that experience, they have decided to begin to formally encourage meet-ups and conversations between people from all disciplines.
“We feel that Facebook and Facetime have replaced face-to-face time, and that a quick email has replaced morning chats over a coffee,” she said.
“We want to encourage people to make connections and continue events like this, meeting people face to face.”
As the online space opens up, opportunities for more women to develop creative careers, fewer people are meeting in real life, Vivienne says.
“With the evolution of the internet, everyone is connected online, but so many people never meet in person.
“We’re from a different generation of meeting people though and we’re trying to bring it back to basics.
“We just have a passion for meeting up with people, it’s what we did first day,” she explains.
“A lot of people have opened up to us over the years because I suppose we became the mamma bears of the industry, so the amount of people we connected through Cork Fashion Week and Lockdown is pretty phenomenal.
“People came to us for advice and help, and we were always the middle-women facilitating these conversations.
“Recently, though, we were stuck in a rut and I think we just needed to find our niche and our passion.
“Then the penny dropped and we realised this is it, we want to tell people’s stories and get people together.”
Teaming up with brands like Therapie to run events like ‘Women in the Spotlight’ will be a main focus for Lockdown moving forward, as they encourage women to step out of their comfort zones and seek new opportunities.
“Traditionally, women went into offices to work, whereas a lot of people now, entrepreneurs, work from home, so they don’t interact with other people in the same way,” Vivienne explains.
“They can’t share their stories or get advice, so I think that events like these are really important to bring them together.
“So many women at the brunch told me that they would never have spoken to these people otherwise,” she adds.
“They may know each other online from Instagram and Facebook but would have never engaged with the person.
“We want to continue to team up with brands who will support us in helping people to do that.”
‘The Life Hustle’ is another element of this project, she says, which will bring these conversations to a wider audience.
“It’s a concept we’ve been thinking about for a while, because we want to promote social good and tell inspiring stories.
“I want to see inspiring stuff, good stories that would inspire you to get up daily and make something of yourself.
“The plan is to post interviews on a monthly basis to start off, with stories covering practically everything that goes on in life.”
The first video features model and dancer Lorna Ahern speaking about her recovery from anorexia, with Vivienne saying that the long-term plan is to bring conversations like these offline to encourage people to speak openly.
“We know so many people, we have so many people to call on to interview, so it’s kind of endless really.
“Our aim eventually is to have open calls where people can come in and take the floor and tell their story and people can listen and ask questions. It’s very exciting.”
See Instagram @the_life_hustle for more.