Thursday 22 November 2018

Watch out for our rising female stars

Chupi Sweetman, Kathi Burke, Ciara King, Ellen Kavanagh (sitting), Joanne McNally, Martha Lynn, Katie Jane Goldin, India Power, Trish O'Brien (sitting), Anne Morgan, Jenny Murphy, Louise O'Reilly (sitting), Louise O'Neill, Sinead Beasley
Chupi Sweetman, Kathi Burke, Ciara King, Ellen Kavanagh (sitting), Joanne McNally, Martha Lynn, Katie Jane Goldin, India Power, Trish O'Brien (sitting), Anne Morgan, Jenny Murphy, Louise O'Reilly (sitting), Louise O'Neill, Sinead Beasley

Vicki Notaro

In honour of International Women's Day this Sunday, we gathered some of the brightest up-and-coming Irish female talent across the realms of sport, design and entertainment. Keep an eye on these faces - they're about to go stellar

1 Chupi Sweetman-Durney, jewellery designer, 31

Chupi runs her eponymous jewellery label from Dublin. It's sold worldwide and inspired by wildlife and nature. Her signature pieces are cast from real swan feathers, twigs and acorns.

"I wrote a cookbook called What to Eat when I was 18, was scouted out of college at 21 by Topshop to design a womenswear label for them and then fell in love with sparkly things at 27, closed the label and ran away with jewellery."

Chupi is particularly fond of of International Women's Day (IWD) because her mother is one of the founding members of the Irish Women's Movement.

"It's funny because when that social trend for disowning feminism was everywhere, I couldn't understand it. We have come so far since IWD was founded. I don't think the day makes women out to be better than men, it's about celebrating how wonderfully different we are."

2 Kathi Burke, illustrator and artist, 25

Working under the title of Fatti Burke, Kathi's eye-catching prints, maps and illustrations have been making waves around the country, and her fondness for illustrating the mundane and the viral (from hotdogs to Grumpy Cat) means her social media presence is ever burgeoning.

"Art was always the one thing I wanted to do. I was driven to study visual communications in NCAD, and then I worked in graphic design for a year before I focused on illustrating."

Kathi says IWD is a reminder that there's still so much for us to work towards in terms of the roles we demand in society. "Last year I began volunteering for a confidential domestic abuse helpline once a week, as there is nothing greater than women holding other women up, supporting each other."

3 Ciara King, The Chris & Ciara Show on RTE2FM, 31

Hailing from Connemara, Ciara initially wanted to write for a living but found herself a natural on the wireless. "I was working in iRadio, and it was by chance that Chris Greene came in for a week to cover a presenter who was sick. We clicked, and have been working together ever since. That was six years ago, and we moved to RTE 2FM over a year ago."

Ciara and Chris work the night shift from 10pm-1am, and the show is perhaps more risque than its daytime counterparts.

"I'm a female on air working on a show that might be perceived as a little bit different as we are given the freedom to say what we want, so I think that people might find that refreshing."

For Ciara, IWD is about celebrating the female of the species. "It's important to celebrate the trailblazers who have gone before us, and encourage those to come. I'm lucky, in that I am surrounded by extremely talented, funny, smart, loving women AND men."

4 Ellen Kavanagh, 35 Waxperts

The ladies behind the Waxperts brand have been working together in the business since 2008, and thanks to a new distribution deal, are about to break into the massive UK market. Ellen looks after expansion and development as well as branding, while Trish is in charge of training and education.

"Every beauty salon in the world uses wax and we're determined to make sure it's Waxperts," says Trish.

"We have created a product that is 100pc unique and unlike any other in the world. That is a massive achievement and our potential for growth with the brand is phenomenal."

5 Trish O'Brien, 30, waxperts

"Since we are in what's perceived as a very female sector, support and appreciation of fellow women in business comes to mind when we think of International Women's Day," says Ellen.

6 Joanne McNally, comedian and writer, 31

From working in consumer PR to going on the road with PJ Gallagher and Eric Lalor, it's been a swift ascension in the comedy world for Joanne - and it all sort of happened by accident.

"My mate's sister Una McKevitt is a director and she was putting together a show called Singlehood which she asked me to be in, on account of my competence on the subject and my inability to keep a single thing to myself."

When PJ Gallagher joined the cast and spotted Joanne's raw comedic talent, he persuaded her to give stand-up a go. Currently prepping a brand new show, Joanne is spending her days writing and rehearsing.

"I'm not entirely sure why I'm considered one to watch, but I get the distinct impression I'm in trouble!"

7 Martha Lynn, milliner, 32

Born and bred in Roscommon but living and working in the capital, Martha studed Fine Art Sculpture in college, and started her career working for an architect - until the recession hit.

"I lost my job, so I decided to go to London. There, I interned with Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones, came home and set up my own hat label. Luckily, I haven't looked back since."

Martha is just back from showing her autumn/winter 2015 collection at London Fashion Week, where she was in good company with other Irish designers such as Orla Kiely, Simone Rocha and Danielle Romeril.

So where does she see herself in five years? "I will be still making hats, hopefully on a larger scale, but it's what I love so I can't imagine doing anything else."

8 Katie Jane Goldin, Gold Fever Hair Extensions, 31

"My brother David pioneered the hair extensions industry in Ireland 25 years ago. The hair business is in my genes!" explains the beauty entrepreneur who shook up the extensions business herself in 2011, and won a Young Businesswoman award for her achievements.

"In 2014 I decided it was time for a fresh approach, and Gold Fever was born. We produce the highest quality ethically sourced hair extensions in the world, something of which I am extremely proud. We're launching in the UK and Ireland now, and moving into the States in the summer.

Katie (also a trained hypnotist) is currently pregnant with her first child with her husband Barry. "I love the idea of Women's Day, and the fact that women get noticed and credit for being strong independent characters who can achieve anything to which they put their mind."

9 India Power, Little Green Spoon, 22

Indy (to her mates) may be only 22, but her healthy food website has taken off in a massive way, and provides "clean" recipes of lots of tasty treats as well as some super health foods.

"I wanted to complement my hard work in the gym with nutritious foods. The more I experimented the more I loved how I was feeling. I started cooking and baking every day, constantly experimenting and developing my own healthy recipes."

Indy is still in college, studying business in Trinity, but LGS takes up at least three full days a week, and she's hoping her foodie fun will turn into a full-time career after she graduates.

"I think I'm being considered one to watch as this interest grows and people turn to my blog for information and inspiration for ways they can improve their lifestyle while still enjoying every bite.

"Hopefully I can keep building on the momentum - I just redesigned my website and am launching a YouTube channel soon."

10 Anne Morgan, Distinct Model Management, 31

As someone who spent eight years in college studying to be a psychotherapist, becoming a model agent was never part of Anne's plan.

"In 2009 I worked as a judge on the panel of an international model search which is where I discovered I had an eye for scouting models.

"In 2012, Distinct Model Management was born and really took off a lot quicker than expected."

Anne set out to build relationships with some of the world's leading agencies which has led to Distinct currently working alongside some of the biggest names in fashion, from Vogue to Burberry, as well as international agencies.

"It's usually my models listed as ones to watch, not me, so it's extremely flattering to be considered. I was awarded Fashion Business Person of the Year in 2014 at Kerry Fashion Week and that to me was a huge turning point in my life."

11 Jenny Murphy, Rugby player, 25

Ireland Sevens captain and Sky Sports athlete mentor Jenny was part of the squad that reached the World Cup semi-final last August, and in her own words has turned a beloved pastime into a career.

"I do what I do because I want to be the best I can be at something that I love. While studying in London, I came across the women's rugby college team and I decided that I'd give it a try. Before I was training two maybe three times a week but now I'm training five to six days, in a very professional set up. Before it was a hobby and now I get to call it my job."

She spends her days visiting schools as part of Sky's programme, and also training for more than five hours daily. Typically modest, she says: "I think you could pick any member of our team and you would find a woman worthy to watch in the future. In a few years I see myself still playing rugby but with more silverware than I currently have."

12 Louise O'Reilly, blogger and international plus-size model, 26

A size 14/16, Louise has been working as a plus-size or curve model for around five years both in Ireland and internationally. She started her award-winning blog Style Me Curvy when more and more women began emailing her to seek advice on style after seeing her in the media.

"The blog is a body-positive platform, which discusses fashion and beauty along with my modeling travels. I want to promote diversity in fashion whether you are a size 6 or a 28."

Louise was awarded Best International Fashion Blog from Cosmopolitan UK in both 2013 and 2014, and also won the Aussie Hair Care Best Fashion Blog last year.

She's undeniably Ireland's top plus-size model, and has just signed to the uber-hip Milk Management agency in the UK, as well as being on the books of seven other agencies around the world.

"As I have a degree in International Relations human rights is a passion of mine. For me IWD is a time to remember how we as women should continue to grow and push for economic, social and political equality for those less fortunate in non-democratic states."

13 Louise O'Neill, novelist, 30

Louise's debut novel Only Ever Yours came out last year, and her second is due to be published in September. From Clonakilty, she found inspiration for her first book when working on a fashion magazine in New York.

"The world of the novel was so vivid to me, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I returned to Ireland in 2011 in order to start writing and within a year, I had the first draft finished. The response from literary agents and publishers was overwhelmingly positive, and I signed a two-book deal with Quercus in June 2013."

Only Ever Yours was published in July 2014 and Louise won Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in 2014. She's also been shortlisted for both the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the YA Book Prize 2015.

"I feel honoured to have been chosen as one to watch. I'm hoping that my second novel, Asking For It, will be as well received as my debut. To me, International Women's Day is a wonderful opportunity to highlight issues affecting women that need attention - equal pay, sexual violence and casual sexism among others."

14 Sinead Beasley, Kickboxing champion, 27

Coming from a big family, the third youngest of eight children, Sinead has always been a sport fanatic. "I originally wanted to do boxing because my brothers did it, but I wasn't allowed in back then as it was boys only. So I found kickboxing at the age of 11 and never looked back. I'm a second degree black belt and a W.A.K.O European kick-boxing champion, and I train out of Spartan Martial Arts."

As if that isn't enough, Sinead is also a personal trainer in Fit Studios in Fairview, where she works alongside her partner and co-owner, Brian Lee.

"On an average day, I go for a run before work. Then I train people who want to either lose weight, get fit or get stronger. After that I either go kick-boxing, or do my strength training and sports-specific training."

A determined woman, Sinead hopes to continue to be a great ambassador for her sport.

"IWD stands for equality, and we should always be equal. Nothing stands in the way of my goals!"

International Women's Day

International Women's day is this Sunday March 8, and this year's theme is "Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity - Imagine it!". So with that in mind, we sought out some of the most empowered, driven women on the Emerald Isle, women who are on the cusp of greatness in their chosen field, and asked them what drives them in both work and life.

Irish Independent

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