WHEN boutique owner Maeve Dennehy took the plunge and created her own brand of clothing, there was never a single doubt in her mind that Marymount Hospice would be part of it.
Called Oh Molly after her daughter, she launched her first collection earlier this month and has been overwhelmed by the response to it.
The vibe is simplicity and confidence, a place where casual meets dressy, clothes that are easy to wear and help women to feel good in their own skin.
And included in the collection is a t-shirt, retailing for €32, with all profits going straight to Marymount.
Maeve, who runs Love Cherish in Charleville, has already raised €65,000 for the charity over the past few years. Her beloved sister Karen spent six weeks in the hospice before she passed away, aged 39, in 2013. She wanted to give something back for the care they gave her and when her son Ned was just three months old she held her first fundraiser that generated an incredible €25,000 for them.
Cruelly, her mum, also called Maeve, was diagnosed just a few weeks later with a tumour on her sinuses and was being cared for in Marymount herself five weeks on. She died there just a few weeks later in 2018.
Maeve became pregnant with Ned through IVF, but when he was only four months old, she became pregnant naturally.
“I got to tell that news to mum before she died and I think the fact that I had a girl was a gift to me from herself and Karen,” she said.
Maeve admits that the first year of Molly’s life was a ‘bit of a blur,’ as she dealt with the enormity of her grief, but that things are very good now and she’s very happy with her family of four.
She’s originally from the city, but lives in Ballyhea where her husband Stephen had a house. Moving to North Cork is how the boutique came about.
“I was used to living in the city and I felt the area needed something,” said Maeve. Her background was as an engineering manager but within three months, in September, 2012, she had opened the doors of Love Cherish ‘on a wing and a prayer’.
A few short years later she won the Xposé Best Boutique in the Country award, which exposed her to a whole new audience, and moved to a larger premises, expanded her team and by 2018 was selling online.
That was a massive head start when the pandemic hit, but she honestly describes those early months as ‘very tough, chaos’.
Her business went through the roof, so much so that she had to source a warehouse exclusively for online stock.
“It was very busy and often it was hard to get stock, but we got through it and have come out the other side,” she said.
During that time, Maeve saw an opportunity for another fundraiser and launched a ‘Masks for Marymount’ campaign selling stylish masks that raised €32,000.
Oh Molly was at the back of her mind for the past few years.
“When lockdown hit, I had to change my business to stock a lot of one size casual pieces. It worked well and people loved them, but it did reach a point where only leggings and hooded tops were becoming everyone’s go-to wardrobe. I really noticed how people struggle with just casual but fun everyday dressing; putting on clothes that are comfortable and easy to wear but have a bit of personality about them.
“I’m a business owner and mother of two toddlers but I find it really easy to throw on a dress in the winter time with a pair of biker boots and go out the door. I love having some pieces I can mix and match easily in my wardrobe, and that can easily be dressed up or down.
“For this collection, I went with the mix of leopard and green to have a bit of fun with clothes, and the cuff detail to give that little bit of difference. That’s what we are all about. Same, but different.”
Maeve said she could have contacted a factory directly, who would have pretty much done everything for her, but she wanted to be involved in the process herself.
“I’ve worked with Morris Fashion Consultancy in Dubai since last February on this collection. I gave them my price points, they went to the factories, samples were going over and back, it was a massive learning curve and to actually see it come to life is a dream come true.”
The biggest thing she’s learned so far is that she can’t do it all.
“It was my baby at the start but I’ve had to realise that some people are better at things than you, to delegate and to trust them.”
Right now she’s excited to see how women of all shapes and sizes mix the pieces together: “I’m also a strong believer that when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you look good.”
Maeve is currently putting the finishing touches to her SS22 collection and is feeling confident about it.
“From the very start of the journey I’ve been getting signs from Karen and Mum so I know they’re looking out for me,” she said.
Oh Molly is available in sizes 8-18 and is sold in Love Cherish, in store and online (www.lovecherish.com)