Bondings: Love is always in fashion
Tom and Emma McCrory were married, parents and homeowners within 13 months of meeting. And as Andrea Smith discovers the couple have lost none of their drive
'TOM and I kill each other at times, but it's never over something silly," says Emma McCrory, owner of the Tres Chic boutiques in Malahide and Sandymount. "Although we could fall out about the way somebody keeps taking their shoes off and leaving them in the middle of the floor on somebody else's side, leading the other person to threaten to throw them out the window."
Emma, 33, from Sandymount and Tom, 31, from Santry are a very driven and dynamic couple, with an engaging and playful manner. They are also very decisive, as evidenced by the fact that they were married, bought a house and had their first baby within 13 months of meeting, and have acquired not one, but two fashion boutiques in the past 18 months.
They first met in 2003 in Reiss, on Grafton Street, where Tom was assistant manager. Emma was working as a fashion stylist alongside Graham Cruz, and was returning clothes borrowed for the RTE TV programme You're a Star.
They had a bit of fun over the fact that Tom had a sore head following his birthday celebrations, and a couple of weeks later, Emma dropped in to the store to ask him out on a date.
"My mother encouraged me," she protests. "I kept talking about him and his nice hair, and I said he was really nice and funny. We were in town one day, and she said that I should go into the shop and ask him out."
Alas, Tom wasn't in that day, so Emma gave her number to his colleague but heard nothing for a week. Then Cruz told her that the fella from Reiss had run down Grafton Street after him, asking him to pass on the message that he had lost the piece of paper with her number on it.
She called in to him a couple of days after that, they went out that night, and were engaged eight weeks later.
"I liked the fact that she was outgoing, funny, gregarious and smart," says Tom, who believes that Emma fell for his urban mullet hairstyle. "I loved that she was ballsy as well, and obviously she was gorgeous at the same time."
"He was well able for me," says Emma. "We had a great laugh, and a lot of effort went into his hair, which was very trendy then, although some people might have called it a bit poncey."
As a result of this new romance, Tom decided that he wasn't going off to Australia for a year, although he was due to depart 10 days later. Emma didn't want to stand in his way, but he broke the news to his two friends that he had met a girl and there was something special about her.
"We didn't fall out, but they're not friends with me today, put it that way," he grimaces. "They were very disappointed, particularly as we were going to spend a month in Thailand as well, and I was the only one of us who had been there before."
A few weeks later, Tom and Emma decided to go on holidays to visit his parents, who were by then living in Florida. They were sitting in a bar called Jimmy Buffet's in Key West, when Tom suggested that they should get married. Emma agreed, secretly relieved that he hadn't made any grand romantic gesture.
"It suited me, because I'd barf if somebody started gushing at me," she laughs.
A couple of months later, Emma became pregnant with Conn, now seven. When she was six months pregnant, they got married at the University Church in Stephen's Green, and held a reception for 40 people at the Four Seasons. They have since had a daughter called Doireann, who is
almost two. The family now lives in Sandymount.
As they were married 10 months after they first met, Tom and Emma say that they had their share of ups and downs as they settled into marriage and parenthood together.
"Married life is great, but we're kind of two control freaks, so we had to find our own way," says Tom. "I used to be very stubborn, but I've mellowed out now."
Emma had worked for a Danish clothing company, prior to setting up her own clothing agency. Then the recession began to have an impact on some of the Danish companies she was dealing with, just as the opportunity arose to buy the Tres Chic boutique in Malahide from Ann McKeever.
Emma and Tom took over the boutique in March 2009, and it has been a great success, stocking such sought-after labels as By Malene Birger, Day Birger et Mikkelson, Sarah Pacini, Hoss, Sita Murt, and Numph. They have now tweaked the boutique to suit their own tastes, and, buoyed by the success of the first one, opened their second store in Sandymount six weeks ago.
These days, Emma divides her time between the two stores, and has assembled a great team of staff around her. She and Tom also have a wonderful Spanish nanny, Maria, who cares for Conn and Doireann by day.
"Emma sees things very clearly, and has brought our staff up to the level of service that we want very quickly," says Tom, who adds that Emma's parents have also been a great help and support. "She holds our family together, and is a fantastic mother and a great wife. Everything is organised and colour-coded in the house, which makes things easier, even though we're all so busy and manic."
While Tom has a full-time sales job with Johnson & Johnson in the area of diabetes, he is also very involved in the boutiques, going on buying trips with Emma at weekends, and doing paperwork at night.
"Tom is a real mover and shaker," says Emma. "Technically, I could quite happily leave him to do the buying, and he's organised and meticulous. He's a really funny guy, and really caring, and he makes a mean roast chicken with all of the trimmings."
Tres Chic, 2a Main Street, Malahide, tel: (01) 845 0139, and 94 Sandymount Road, Dublin 4, tel: (01) 667 2400