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!
This got us thinking, what other incredible women are out there that we haven’t met just yet?
For today’s “Shona Meets”, here’s the amazingly talented Margaret O’Connor.
So Margaret O’Connor tell all these fabulous people a little bit about yourself
I’m an artist -that’s what I am. I’m a conceptual artist. I’m a textile, hat and accessory designer. I’m a DJ and I’m all-around creative soul.
Share with everyone a little bit about your journey to getting to this point as an artist.
My journey has been very difficult, it’s mainly been very hard for me because I’m dyslexic and I only discovered that later in my life. I was hiding it my whole life and I always felt inferior to people. I really had to get over this thing I was carrying around with me about not being an academic. But because of it, I’m more streetwise and savvier. I’m very good with people but I have struggled. I hated primary and secondary school as I never felt I was good enough. I felt pressure to be in the higher class. My teachers at school told me not to go to art school as I wasn’t good enough, so I always felt a little lost with my ability. I knew I liked art and it excited me and it was my safe space. I could draw and paint for hours and even it wasn’t that good it was my special place.
I went to art college and that was a shock to the system. I was very emotionally supported growing up but that step into the real world was a serious change, but I worked really hard and I was a bit wild too.
When did you know that you wanted to be a hat designer?
I went to see an exhibition of Philip Tracey’s and I knew there and then that I wanted to be a hat designer. I didn’t finish my last year of college. I suppose I felt a little bit like I did in school. I struggled with a little bit of bullying from my fellow peers for being different. So, I went to Scotland and worked with a hat designer there and I felt at home. I was the Irish weirdo there and I LOVED IT!!
Have you had many setbacks?
I’ve always worked very hard working many jobs and with lots of different designers. I didn’t get a job I really really wanted and that was the changing of me.
I then set up my own company – I hadn’t gotten what I wanted before – but I was forced to set up my own brand and now I can’t stop!! I’m on the hamster wheel and I can’t get off it. I work very hard but my work is fun. I’m so happy sitting down and making hats every day. I struggled with working for other people and needed to work for myself and not have anyone else controlling me in any way as such. I do still feel like I’m still on my journey.
Who’s your biggest inspiration in general?
Grace Jones cos she doesn’t give F*&K!!
This idea of “oh sit down, be quiet, look pretty-don’t do this/don’t do that” – I dunno it’s just not for me!
Don’t get me wrong I am a people’s person and get along very well with people, but I like people to be grounded even in their success. Like if I met Grace Jones walking in a field, I’d like her to be sound and grounded!! I’ve never met Grace Jones, although I did make a mask for her when I worked for Philip Tracey – I find her inspiring as a creative soul and musically. I find her a powerhouse and I look up to her as a woman and someone who is totally herself!
Who’s your biggest inspiration as an artist?
An artist called Joseph Walsh and who lives in Cork. His work takes my breath away. He is to me, Irelands finest designer.
I’ve never met him but I would like to tell him how talented he is and how inspired I am by his work.
It’s a quote by David Bowie
I don’t have one-it’s like asking me my fav color or my fav food. I couldn’t answer that. I listen to music according to my mood. If I had a fav song it would only be for a period of time-I’m constantly changing and evolving and so is my taste in music!
Fav Person Ever
My mother – I am one of eight and my mother raised us all very well
We don’t know about you, but we are so glad to have Margaret 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! If you’d like to follow Margaret and keep up to date with what her latest creations are, we recommend you check out her Instagram below!
View this post on Instagram
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to support us and the work that we do, you can donate below ❤