While most of us want to have a close relationship with our mums, could we work with them, too? Arlene Harris meets the mothers who share a passion for fashion with their offspring that has led to them going into business together
Karen Yates and her daughter Ellen
Karen and Ellen run Taylor Yates, a handmade luxury handbag business in Portstewart, Co Down. The duo started working together in 2016 and say they share the same vision and style
"I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work with my daughter and my sons also get involved when they can," says Karen.
"It's not always easy [working with family]... I know I can be very impatient and also a bit of a taskmaster, but we also manage to have lots of fun.
"Knowing we trust each other 100pc is huge as we are on the same page and want to grow the brand whilst giving back. We both believe that people, planet and purpose need to be at the centre of what we do.
"I also know she has my back, even if it is midnight on a Tuesday that I need her help. I tend to keep going no matter what and sometimes forget to eat at lunchtime - but we need fun and space to breathe and sometimes I need patience. Ellen has taught me that."
Ellen agrees that working with family is not always easy, and has required some adaptation.
"It took a while for me to adjust to the sheer number of things there were to do and how mum's mind is always working which can be exhausting so sometimes, I have to tell her to stop," adds 23year-old Ellen.
"It's regularly after normal work hours that we end up doing a lot of things, but we usually agree on new colourways and styles pretty quickly.
"And we do have lots of fun. Even though people often wonder how it's possible to work with your mum. But we are very similar to the point of it being slightly scary, so we work quite well together on most things and balance each other out."
While Karen makes most of the big decisions, the pair work in harmony and often end up sharing clothes - and bags - as they have a very similar style.
"We tend to share more and more as time goes by - not everything, obviously, as Ellen is 5ft 10in and I'm not - but a lot of coats and tops," says Karen. "We usually like the same colours and Ellen definitely keeps me relevant. She has an ability to put a look together in an understated and cool way so when we go shopping, I always come home with something that I wouldn't have tried on without her."
"Mum has quite the collection spanning right back to the late 1980s/early 1990s, which is always good to have a look through," adds Ellen.
"She often steers me away from styles and colours which I might like but will definitely not suit me. She is also really good at knowing whether something is well-made or not, a skill which I am being well-trained on."
Tess Purcell from Ennis, Co Clare and her son Evan. Pic: Don Moloney
Tess Purcell lives in Ennis, Co Clare, with her husband Steve Flaherty and their son Evan, both musicians. Always interested in fashion, the beauty therapist, who worked for Christian Dior for 16 years, trained as personal stylist when she became a mother and has involved her son in her work since the start
"Evan has always been involved in the business," she says. "As an only child, mostly against his will, he was dragged along to boutiques to carry bags, help out backstage at fashion shows and work with me on events. He is no stranger to the ramp and from the age of four has modelled for me in many fashion shows.
"As a teenager, he started to develop his own sense of style, which was not always easy on the purse strings, but he has a keen eye for fashion and knows what works for him. I always gave him the freedom to experiment but would express my opinion when I thought something was just not working.
"Last year, I started www.stylenmind.com and Evan was the natural choice of partner. He has been a fantastic help working on social media while also filming and editing video clips for me. The industry has evolved with the introduction of social media platforms but I'm not a natural when it comes to these forums, so Evan brings his knowledge and experience to the table and was invaluable last year when I started rebranding and developing my website."
And while 19-year-old Evan has been able to lend his tech skills to his mum, Tess has also been able to help her son out.
"I think it is important to listen to each other and to make sure that both parties share their individual talents, so I was delighted to be called on when it came to developing his image and style him for his band's - Scoth - promo material," she says. "Even though right now he is focused on music, image is very much intertwined with this and I am delighted to have been involved in that journey with him."
And Evan, who is pursuing a degree in music at BIMM, Dublin's 'school of rock', says he enjoys working with his mother and learning from her experience.
"I believe the dynamic with me and mam is a good one," he says.
"We always had a very good relationship so helping with www.stylenmind.com wasn't a chore for me in any sense of the word. I always had her help with my fashion choices and since I was a baby, she's been dressing me up in all sorts of things ranging from fluffy teddy bear outfits to corduroy overalls. She has influenced my style a lot and with her years of styling experience it was a huge help to have her opinion when I was heading out for the night, whether it be positive or negative. I think if someone has a good relationship with their mother then working together should be just the same and, in our case, it actually strengthened it."
Jean Cronin with her daughter Alison. Photo: Owen Breslin
Jean Cronin and her daughter Alison Rooney run Jean Cronin Vintage and Contemporary in Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin. The mother and daughter share a love of beautiful things and say that working together has shown them how much they have in common
"My parents were antique collectors and I have always loved vintage, opening my first shop, Xanadu on King Street, in the 1980s," says Jean. "Five years ago, Alison and I decided to embark on our joint venture. We have such a close relationship and she has accompanied me all over the world, learning about textiles and antiques. We are so lucky we get on so well and can just look at each other and know what the other one is thinking.
"We both share a love of silks and unusual vintage and while we have different tastes, Alison has introduced me to many small brands which has had a great influence on my personal style. And we both share the love of taking care of pieces we collect and then passing on our finds to the next person to care for them."
Alison agrees and says she has learned a lot from her mother. "It's really great being able to share and have such enthusiasm when showing each other pieces we have sourced and curating the shop together with our finds," the 30-year-old says.
"We make decisions together and every Monday meet for lunch somewhere different to organise and plan for the week ahead. We manage different elements of the business and when we're sourcing, tend to buy contrasting items from one another. This works really well as it provides a really eclectic mix for the shop.
"But mum has definitely influenced my style and has given me such a passion for materials and fine fabrics. I really feel that we are so lucky that we get to do what we love every day and to share that with each other.
"I think this is the key and would advise anyone who would like to work with their mum to figure out what is that they are passionate about and work that into their career path."