Our SHINE Festival in March 2021 was a roaring success, smashing all of our targets with 40,000 girls attending. Over 80 incredible, authentic and badass women joined us to celebrate being a girl for 3 whole days!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be catching up with some of the speakers to share why we love them so much and why you should love them too. These women are joyful, smart, positive and hugely inspiring…

For today’s “Shona Meets”, here’s the gorgeous and talented Emma Gleeson…

Emma, for those who don’t know you, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi SHONA thanks for having me! So I’m 33 and I was born in Cork but have lived in Dublin for most of my life. My first degree was in Drama & Theatre Studies in TCD where I specialised in costume design. Then I moved to London to do an MA in the History and Culture of Fashion where my research focused on the negative psychological effects of fast fashion on young female consumers. Since then I’ve had a pretty chaotic working life! I did a bit more costume design, I worked in event management, and then a few years ago I set up my decluttering business Give Up Yer Aul Tings. Now, I’m a writer and a sustainability activist and my first book, Stuff Happens! was published this year.

How did you find your way into the career you have now?

I’m living proof that you can not have a clue what you’re doing for years and then eventually stumble upon your dream career! There’s been a huge amount of false starts in my life and I’ve also been battling depression for years which has derailed my work and life several times. The biggest learning curve for me was finding a way to work that suits my personality – I’m extremely introverted and need a lot of quiet, so big loud offices just exhaust me. Getting the book deal was genuinely just pure luck but it has allowed me to get paid to stay at home where I feel most settled and write and give presentations over Zoom. Figure out how you want your life to look and then decide what to work as within that. Also, keep going, no matter what. I promise you’ll get there.

We know that you did your thesis on fashion sustainability. What sustainable brands would you recommend?

I’m always a bit reluctant to name brands because my main message is just BUY LESS. I always say that it matters way more HOW you shop than WHERE you shop. Are you buying clothes that you really love and need? Or are you buying cos you’re bored or unhappy or having a bad body image day? Second-hand is my favourite “brand” – I love eBay! But I also love People Tree (great for basics), Zoe Carlow (she’s Irish!) and Feiri Folk (Irish too!)

Your book is called “Stuff Happens! Manage Your Clutter, Clear Your Head & Discover What’s Really Important”. What have you discovered to be the most imported thing since starting your journey?

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that we have to give up the recycling fairytale. Recycling is not working properly and so much of our waste is actually shipped overseas and never recycled at all. We need to start with REDUCE, REFUSE AND REUSE, with recycling as the last option. I’ve also learned that you will be so much happier living a life where you only buy what you need and what you love. You will save money, save headspace, save time with less cleaning, and connect to your community through buying second hand and shopping. There’s nothing to lose!

What advice would you give to the people who want to start a decluttered life but have no idea where to begin?

If you declutter without changing your shopping habits you will be forever caught in a clutter cycle where you have to do a clear out every 6 months – madness! If you’re starting off, start small. Choose a small task like a single drawer and complete that fully. Make sure you schedule breaks as you’ll be more tired than you might expect. Never buy storage before you declutter! Only after if you really need it – and use whatever boxes you have if you can. Most of all, be kind and gentle to yourself. Declutter can be stressful and emotional, so go easy. And I’m always there on my Insta for any questions!


Quick-Fire round: 

Pineapple on pizza, yes or no?


Favourite song to have a good bop to?

So hard to choose just one cos I love to dance! at the moment it’s Nothing But Flowers by Talking Heads -love the sustainability message too!

Favourite place in Ireland to visit?

Ballinskelligs in Kerry. And InishTurk island.

Favourite holiday you’ve been on?

Varenna in Italy. So beautiful.


We were also very lucky to have Emma as one of our People and Planet Stage SHINE speakers this year!  Check out her incredible video below!


We don’t know about you, but we are so glad to have Emma in our SHONA Community! It’s mad to think of how many phenomenal women are on this little Island of ours! Stay tuned to see who else we got chatting to! 

P.S. If you have a suggestion of who you would like us to chat to next and have some burning questions, why not let us know on any of our socials ( @shonadotie ) or pop us an email at info@shona.ie 

If you would like to support us and the work that we do,  you can donate below ❤




Supported By

Our Pro bono Partners