During 25 years of living abroad, Jennie Ritchie saw some of the most beautiful and luxurious interiors as she worked in property management looking after high end villas, millionaires’ chalets and super yachts.
Living in Australia, Turkey, France, Switzerland and the Caribbean, she was exposed to a whole world of colour and design which was very different to what she had experienced growing up in the County Meath countryside.
It was an exciting life which saw her working as a scuba dive instructress on the Great Barrier Reef, as first mate and then chief stewardess on luxury yachts, running a restaurant in Switzerland, managing luxury chalets and villas.
She married her chef husband in a vineyard in New Zealand and they had two children.
Then the lure of the Irish countryside drew her back home with her family.
Now living in Castlebellingham, she is drawing on her memories of those lush tropical colours and exotic patterns for her collection of bed linens, cushions, napkins and tablecloths.
"I came back to Ireland looking to set up something myself in the design business,” she says.
While working abroad, she had the opportunity to discover different interior design influences and had her own lifestyle blog when living in the Caribbean which focused on local artists and designers.
Now she is using that experience to create her own range of linens.
“I always had a love of nature, I had a fabulous childhood growing up in the countryside – that was one of the things that drew me back home.”
She has sourced linen from Ireland and Europe for her collection, as it’s a more sustainable fabric than cotton, requiring less water to manufacture.
The hand-printed designs are made using natural dyes and they are inspired by her love of the Irish countryside and the rich bold colours she found on her travels.
"Linen bedsheets are the best,” she says. “There's nothing like sleeping in linen bedsheets, They’re lovely and cool in summer and warm in winter, which makes them ideal for the Irish climate. Linen is also more endurable that cotton so they last longer.”
Having launched her collection towards the end of last year, she has since joined Louth Craftmark and is looking forward to attending the Craft Fair in the St Nicholas Quarter on Saturday as part of the SEEK Fringe Festival.
"I love getting out to see what people think about my collection,” she says.
With a background in writing and web design, she set up her own website, www.jennieritchie.ie which she promotes through her social media account.
It’s more than just an online shop, as she shares her musings on life in Ireland, recipes and lifestyle tips.
She’s delighted that the family found a place to live in Castlebellingham when they moved to Ireland four and years ago.
"I really love it here. We’re beside the sea and the hills and have got the best of everything. When we lived in Switzerland, I missed to sea so much.”
Her children, aged 11 and 13 years, go to school in Dundalk and the family enjoy walking in Ravensdale and swimming at Port Beach.
"We can do everything without too much of a drive.”