Skin to skin: peek inside the elegant home of beauty businesswoman
Careena Galligan has been immersed in the beauty business since she was a young girl. The lessons she's learned have helped her to create a roomy, elegant home.
Getting nails trimmed, polished or Shellac-ed, eyebrows waxed, threaded or tinted, having a mani-pedi or any of the myriad beauty treatments available, are all things we do on a regular basis, and take utterly for granted.
Forty years ago, it would have been unheard of to pay someone to paint your nails or look after your eyebrows - indeed, to do any of the ministrations now on offer nationwide. If women painted their nails at all, they would have done it themselves. As for eyebrows in those days, they were plucked, or left to grow wild.
Of course, 40 years ago, it was also almost unheard of for a woman to continue working after she got married, not to mind start her own business, which makes Kay Galligan, mother of Careena Galligan, all the more extraordinary.
Kay, mother of two girls and two boys, became a pioneer of the Irish beauty business when she started The Galligan Beauty Group. "What happened was, she was working as the head receptionist in a health club called the Euro Club, and they opened up a beauty salon. That was maybe 43 years ago. There wasn't any such business up to then, and she just loved the concept," Careena, now managing director of The Galligan Group explains, adding that Kay became determined then to set up her own business.
What makes Kay's achievement even more remarkable is that she raised the start-up funds on her own, something women find extremely hard to do, even now. And in those days, believe it or not, a woman had to have her husband's signature before she could get a loan.
"She decided to go to the banks to look for finance. She went to six or seven banks, and they would all give her the loan, but only if she got Dad's signature. Dad had a carpentry business. She was determined to do it on her own, and refused to involve him," Careena says, adding that Kay finally got the finance.
Kay was passionate from day one - travelling abroad to bring the first tweezer hair removal and the first gel nails to Ireland - and she embued her two daughters with her passion.
Careena was in fourth year in secondary school, while Lorraine, her older sister, was doing her Leaving Cert, and suddenly they found they were roped into the business, which Kay started in Lennox Street in Portobello. Their father, who died 10 years ago, was roped in, too - he had to do all the fit-outs in the salon, and even Careena's granddad was required to upholster all the beds. "Mum is amazing, really. She was in her 40s when she started the salon, and she was fantastic with clients. It was a new profession, and she just loved it; she's still a great woman," Careena enthuses fondly.
Fortunately, Kay's daughters developed a passion for it, too; both girls went on to train as beauty therapists and constantly upskilled by taking different courses over the years. "We had no choice, really. I liked sport, so I was planning to go into PE, but beauty was a nice career, so I didn't feel forced into it," Careena explains.
Kay's instinct for the concept of a beauty business proved spot-on - women came from all over the country. "Remember there were no salons up to then anywhere in Ireland, so people began to travel from all over with their skin problems. Up to then, no one had a clue about skin or hair care. Then we started offering slimming treatments, and they were very popular too. We had the vibratory belts, three or four of them. All the women would be lined up, wobbling away, and we'd give dietary advice. Did they work? I think with anything like that, you have to want to do it, and, psychologically, coming in, talking it through - that's what got the results," Careena says.
Lorraine's ambition had been to become a teacher, and soon she found she could further that ambition in the family beauty business, when they decided to open a beauty school, training students in beauty therapy, hairdressing, make-up artistry, aromatherapy, massage and salon management. All the courses are to Cidesco international standard.
"We both teach, but I concentrate on administration, while Lorraine does more of the teaching," Careena says, adding that the school, as well as the only remaining salon, are now located in Grafton Street.
The business had expanded rapidly, and, at one stage, the family had 10 salons and three beauty schools, some outside Dublin. However, when Careena and Lorraine started to have their own families, they decided to narrow their interests to Grafton Street, and they sold off the other businesses.
Kay retired 25 years ago, leaving Lorraine and Careena in charge. Fortunately Careena and Lorraine, who recently trained as a psychotherapist, get on well and love working together.
While Careena may have originally felt slightly press-ganged into beauty, it wasn't a hardship, and, in any case, it still allowed her time to pursue her passion for sport, particularly tennis, which led her to romance - she met her husband, Michael Roche, formerly managing director of the Sunday Tribune, now with the Sims IVF fertility clinic, through the game. "We met in Wexford, where he was working at the time. I was down in Wexford playing tennis. He pretended he played," she says with a laugh, "and we met up."
Michael has a son, Adam (34) from a previous relationship, and Careena and Michael have two children, Andie (19) who is studying nursing, and Michael (18) who is doing his Leaving Cert.
The family live in south Co Dublin; they've lived in the same house for the last 17 years; a detached, four-bedroomed house. It was 10 years old when they bought it. They debated about moving a few times, but the kids were happy growing up there as the area has a secluded green, so, instead of moving, they extended the living areas six years ago. "By adding the space, we were able to all be together at the same time, which was important when the kids were younger and on their computers. I wanted to be able to keep an eye on them," Careena explains.
The extended kitchen/dining/living area is full of light, as there are large expanses of glass, and doors that open fully. The colour schemes both here and in the two other reception rooms are all soft, muted tones.
"I got advice from Glenna Lynch, of The Sofa Room in Leeson Street. I was in school with her. She picked the colours for me, and through colour helped to unify the older parts of the house and the extension," Careena says happily.
The house is pristine, which means Careena can concentrate on the business; it's been going 40 years, and in order for it to keep going successfully, they have to be super alert to new trends. Apparently, old-style barbering for men is where it's at now, and, of course, The Galligan Beauty School is at the cutting edge.
The Galligan Beauty Group, 109 Grafton St, D2, tel: (01) 670-3933, or see galligangroup.com
Edited by Mary O'Sullivan. Photography by Tony Gavin