What inspired you to start Chaos & Harmony?
I was living in New Zealand and my sister was expecting her first child. I started looking online for a gift and thought to save on shipping I'll order something back in Ireland and my mum could give it to her. I couldn't find anything that I liked, partly because there were barely any online kids stores based in Ireland at the time. There was a little children's shop not far from where we lived in Takapuna Auckland. It stocked the most beautiful, design-led and excellent quality kids clothing and toys and it opened my eyes to what was out there - not just lemon, baby blue and pale pink babygros with bunnies and bears printed on them with matching hats. Shortly after my sister had her first baby I discovered I was was expecting my first. I started following children's brands on Instagram and basically fell down the IG rabbit hole! If I'm totally honest I became obsessed with discovering new brands and set up an inspo page on Instagram sharing what I found. I still to this day remember reaching 100 followers and being ecstatic!! My husband and I had been humming and hawing about moving back to Ireland and finally made the decision to move back after 6 years away. I knew I wasn't ready to go back to work full time and we had chatted about me doing my own thing and working from home so that I could care for our baby. We knew it wasn't going to be easy and that it was a risk but with my family's support I took a leap of faith!
As a mum of 2, how do you manage your work commitments and being a mum?
With a lot of help, support and encouragement from family, friends and other business owners! I’m still trying to figure out how to manage both and just like the kids needs change as they grow so too does the business needs. After two and a bit years I'm finally starting to see a pattern. Some months are very hands on with the shop and others are quite and I can focus more on the kids. I'm also trying to squeeze in more 'me time' whether it's going to the gym, cinema or to a coffee morning which makes me feel happier and think more positively.
Do you think your style has changed since becoming a mum?
I guess a little bit but it might be more an age thing. I still wear plenty of bits and pieces that I bought over 10 years ago like my leather jacket I bought 11 years ago and a pair of biker boots I bought in Niece when I was 21! The boots weren't in fashion then and have never really ever been in fashion but I love them and have had them re-healed and re-soled about 6 times. They could tell a tale or two : ) I don’t tend to follow the trends too much but prefer to wear what suits me and what I feel most comfortable and confident in. I've always liked to have a little bit of an edge and have probably toned down a little bit now but overall I don't think becoming a mum has changed my style much.
Are there any items of clothing as a mama that you can't live without?
My go to outfit when I'm in a rush (which is most of the time) but still want to look put together are my leather look leggings and a long white or black t-shirt. Perfect for doing the school run with a pair of runners and can be easily transformed into something a little more dressy with a pair of ankle boots and some jewellery.
What do you think is the best thing about becoming a mum?
Gosh so many things. Becoming a mum has given me a love like no other for my children, a new love for my husband, a closer relationship with my own amazing parents and incredible new friendships with other mothers.
We know your an avid vegan, do you have any recommendations for a great family meal?
Haha!! I’m still very much a vegan newbie and actually rarely refer to myself as vegan- I just don't eat dairy or meat. However, I do eat fish and sometimes allow myself a small piece of goats cheese every now and then. I love cheese but gave up because my skin couldn't hack it anymore. I was a woman in my 30's with teenage acne that was extremely painful so I said enough is enough. I was reluctant to go on medication and did some research on the effects dairy can have on some people and decided to cut it out for 3 months and see how we go. My skin cleared up and never looked better so that was that! I did find family meal planning very challenging and still do. My pal Orlaith Donlon passed on a lovely vegan pesto recipe which is really good and very easy to make.
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
large bunch of basil
salt & pepper to taste
Blitz in the blender and that's it - simple!
Any Advice for the Mamas out there?
My one piece of advice for mama's to be is to attend pregnancy classes like yoga and sign up to prenatal courses and get to know the other mama's in the group. There are so many available virtually now too which is great. I had our first child in New Zealand and with the exception of my lovely sis-in-law who lived 2 hours drive away, I really had nobody there to share the journey with other then my husband. So we actually signed up to 2 prenatal courses and I did a pregnancy yoga class. I put myself right out there and chatted to all the other ladies because I wanted to have some kind of support network when the baby arrived. I honestly could not have coped as a first time mum, so far away from home, without those other mama's. We met every Tuesday morning for a year and cried together, laughed together, wiped baby puke off each other and shared tips and tricks with one another. Still to this day, we keep in touch and send updates to our Facebook group of how the kids are doing. Being a first time mum is so hard and daunting but it's less so when you have a little tribe of mama's helping you navigate motherhood.