Cork designer: I always wanted to open my own shop... now I’m living the dream

Illustrator and graphic designer Susan Mulcahy has gone full time with her business Saucy Pups. MARY HASSETT catches up with her to find out more
Cork designer: I always wanted to open my own shop... now I’m living the dream

Susan Mulcahy of Saucy Pups, who has a pop-up shop at Douglas Village Shopping Centre, Cork.

ILLUSTRATOR and graphic designer Susan Mulcahy loves to draw, is besotted with dogs, adores Cork, is consumed by colour and design, and gets a kick out of being a little bit sassy.

In turn, the people of Cork can’t get enough of Susan’s Saucy Pups pop-up shop in Douglas Village Shopping Centre.

“It’s a colourful, happy shop filled to the brim with a huge new range of bold, juicy prints, stationery and gifts. I called my business Saucy Pups because I love my two little saucy dogs, Missy and Charlie, so much. I’m obsessed with them,” she said.

Up to recently, the 31-year-old illustrator and graphic designer, from South Douglas Road in Cork, only operated online and at markets. The feedback has been so positive that Susan decided to set up a temporary shop opposite Tesco in the run up to Christmas.

Susan Mulcahy with some of her work.
Susan Mulcahy with some of her work.

Many shoppers were already familiar with her wonderfully bright and cheerful mural of Douglas, which she was commissioned to design for the Shopping Centre last June. “My best seller is my framed print of Douglas and the Douglas cards are selling really well too. They are being sent abroad especially to people who haven’t been home in a long time because of Covid,” says Susan.

“Everyone that comes into the shop goes over to the framed picture of Crosshaven because it brings back nice, happy memories of their childhood and they also love the colours as well,” she added.

Last year, Susan brought out a range of 20 pocket size affirmation cards that helped people of all ages stay positive and believe in themselves.

“I decided this year that I would try a different variation and came up with the idea of Date Night cards. The cards are Cork specific because I found the more specific you are, the more emotional or nostalgic attachment it has for people,” says Susan.

“I put a questionnaire out on my Instagram account looking for places that people love. So, so many of the replies mentioned ‘a salty bag of Dino’s in Kinsale’ that I had to include it,” laughs Susan.

The 20 pack Date Night cards are proving a great hit with couples and friends alike. They are full of fun suggestions like ringing the Shandon Bells and heading to the Franciscan Well Bar and Brewery afterwards for pizza and drinks. When all the date nights are done, the cards can be joined up to make a picture.

Not surprisingly, the Saucy Dogs shop has its own doggie section with everything from dog stickers and stationery to ‘Best Boy’ and ‘Best Girl’ discs that clasp onto a dog’s collar.

Susan Mulcahy's Date night cards, from Saucy Pups
Susan Mulcahy's Date night cards, from Saucy Pups

There are even notebooks that proclaim ‘I love dogs more than humans’.

“I’ve had a lot of cat people into the shop so I’ve started to do stationery featuring cats now,” the designer said.

Susan’s parents, Philip and Geraldine, and her sister, Helen, are hugely supportive and patient.

“I live at home and last year I created a big Christmas range that was way too much. I was hiding boxes under coffee tables and had to keep re-arranging stuff so the family couldn’t see how much I had.

“I set up a little Santa grotto in the kitchen and each night I’d launch a new set of products on Instagram. My parents and sister were the audience every night,” Susan laughs.

Up to last June, Susan was working as Manager in the Babelfís Graphic Design Studio during the day and taking care of her Saucy Pups business in the evenings and at weekends.

“Everything at Babelfís was going so well and I had a really good group of friends there. But I felt I would have this big regret if I didn’t take the chance and go full-time with my Saucy Pups business. I told myself that this was what I wanted all my life and I had to have the guts to do it now,” says Susan.

The Saucy Pups pop up shop in Douglas Village Shopping Centre.
The Saucy Pups pop up shop in Douglas Village Shopping Centre.

Despite initial misgivings, her family quickly gave her their full backing.

“My family are the best help in the whole world,” she said.

“We opened a stunning new store from concept to completion in four weeks. My dad, Philip, built the shop counter in our kitchen at home from an old wardrobe, an old bed and an old something else. He also built the shelves, even though he isn’t a carpenter.

“My mam, Geraldine, and my sister, Helen, who also trained as a graphic designer, come in all the time to help me out too.

“I couldn’t do it without my family. I always wanted to open my own shop and sell colourful, happy stationery and now I’m living my dream,” Susan concludes.

Saucy Pups is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm. Sundays: Noon to 5pm.

See www.saucypups.com

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