Doctor Katherine Mulrooney has always felt lucky having a sister who is only two years older, as her older sibling Jane was always there to guide her and stand up for her when they were growing up in Galway. The glam sisters have always got on very well, even though they were very different as children.
"Katherine was a real little doll with bright blonde curls, whereas I was a complete tomboy in trousers with short dark hair," Jane recalls. "She was off winning all the Irish dancing competitions, while I was out playing with the boys on the road."
The sisters were both very academic and loved school, which is just as well as their mum, Kaye, was the local teacher and subsequently became the school principal. They have an older brother, James, and their late father, Patrick, was a marine scientist. He was the one who came up with the initial formulation of their skincare brand Seavite in 1992, because he noticed that his daughters' eczema cleared up when they went swimming in the sea at their grandfather's house in Strandhill. "Our dad wanted to bottle up the goodness of the sea so he could treat our eczema at home," says Katherine.
As she had suffered with skin problems, Jane went to study medicine at NUI, Galway, with dermatology in mind. Katherine decided to do the same, and they went on together to do a master's degree in clinical dermatology at St Thomas's Hospital in London. After further training in cosmetic dermatology at a Harley Street practice, they started working at the Beacon Clinic when they returned to Dublin in 2005. They opened their own clinic in 2010, which was a big move and a scary one as the country was in the depths of recession. They have since developed a very strong reputation for treating skin conditions, and also for the cosmetic aspect of the business with Botox, fillers and IPL. They are also famously discreet.
"We love the cosmetic side of our work and it gives us a lot of job satisfaction," says Jane. "There is an overlap in medical dermatology, as we see patients with conditions like acne and rosacea. When is comes to cosmetic procedures, we get a lot of professional women and men who want to look very natural and just don't want to look as tired as they feel. I think we're kind of known for that, as we never get asked for the big lips or crazy looks."
After their dad passed away from cancer in 2003, their mum Kaye kept the Seavite skincare company going. Jane and Katherine had a vision for the products and they came on board three years ago. They really wanted to grow the brand with their dad's ethos in mind. The skincare and hair ranges are all made from organic seaweed from the west coat of Ireland, which is soothing and nourishing with anti-ageing properties, and they tweaked the formulations by adding more clinically proven organic seaweed extracts. They rebranded as Seavite by Doctors Mulrooney to reflect their input, and say that it's Celtic skincare designed for Celtic skin. "Celtic skin is so sensitive," says Katherine. "It ages the fastest and is more irritable than any other skin type in the world."
The sisters now have 10 products and say their wonderful mum's input is amazing, and she looks after all the online sales. She's also a fantastic granny to Jane's two small boys, Jamie, four. and Andrew, three. Jane met her husband, Philip, in 2003 and says it was brilliant having Katherine there to support her and keep the business going. "Auntie Katherine is better with minding the shop than minding the kids," she teases.
"When Jane got married and had babies, I was very focused on keeping the practice open," Katherine agrees. "Becoming an auntie was fantastic as our brother has three children so it's pretty special and they are all gorgeous kids. Jane is my best friend and she's a visionary and very clear-thinking. She doesn't sweat the small stuff."
Even though they work together, the sisters are busy with different patients so they don't see as much of each other through the day as you might imagine. While their own skin looks amazing they say they have to work on it, because they still suffer with skin conditions. Katherine has eczema and allergy problems, and Jane has rosacea and is prone to spots so they have an empathy with their patients. They are also always dressed amazingly,
Katherine thinks that as she and Jane are very different in personality, they bring different ideas to the business, which has enhanced its success. They are also glad that they were never interested in the same men.
"It's very rare that sisters can work together," says Katherine, "but we can argue and have things out and there are no hard feelings. Jane is an amazing cook, and she's also great fun."
Jane says Katherine is very creative, particularly with Seavite and its branding and marketing, while she is more practical and interested in the scientific side. "Katherine is really neat and tidy but I wouldn't be," she laughs.
"She's a lot more organised than me so I drive her more mad in that sense. I think she has OCD and she thinks I'm messy. Also, I have no access to her wardrobe but she has full access to mine!"
www.seavite.ie The Doctor Mulrooney Clinic, 69 Eglinton Road, Donnybrook, D4. Tel: 01 441 0188 or visit www.drmulrooney.com
Sunday Indo Living