Meet the Makers Celebrating Women’s Day Every Day at Kilkenny Design
At Kilkenny Design, it’s women’s day every day just as it has been for over 50 years. Our beginnings as a shop that showcased the work of Irish craftspeople means that we have always had Irish talent and creativity at the heart of what we do. Their work inspires us and inspires our customers. We have championed the female entrepreneurs behind Ireland’s most well loved brands, often providing the first opportunity for them to showcase their creations in our shops across Ireland and on our international online store.
We are proud to bring the imagination, passion and vision of amazing Irish women to our community, not just one day but every day of the year.
Meet some of the many makers who inspire us at Kilkenny Design.
Sabine Lenz, Enibas
From the markets of Germany to the markets of West Cork, Sabine Lenz found a connection in creativity between Ireland and Germany. Thanks to a moment of serendipity that came when Sabine met her future husband while hitchhiking during a visit to Ireland, she moved to West Cork over 30 years ago and has since developed a beautiful collection of jewellery that we fell in love with at Kilkenny Design.
In 1993 she launched Enibas, which stood for “Sabine” spelled backwards, and Kilkenny Design were the first to champion Sabine’s designs. Sabine carefully selects beautiful words or phrases from the Irish language and inscribes them on her jewellery. The inscriptions convey special meanings such as Croí Álainn meaning “Beautiful Heart”, Las mo shlí meaning “Light my way”, Do Shaol Do Thuras meaning “Your Life, Your Journey” and Anam the initial disc pendant collection meaning “Name”.
Sabine’s jewellery truly touches the heart of its wearers, it’s one of Kilkenny Design’s best-selling brands. We adore sharing with our customers, knowing that Enibas is going to be part of special moments in people’s lives warms our hearts as it does for Sabine too!
Nicola Connelly, Nunaïa
Nicola Connolly made a big life decision to step away from a successful corporate career in search of something her heart, body and mind yearned for, namely a greater connection to nature. She ventured to South America where she was planning to travel for a couple of months but ended up staying there for 12 years. Here she developed a superfood skincare range inspired by the natural beauty and ancient wisdom of the areas she travelled.
Nunaïa is an organic skincare range designed to encourage users to make time to stop and pause, to re-connect with oneself. The skincare is developed with superfoods that come from nutrient-dense plant botanicals from the Peruvian rainforest and Andes mountains. Nicola’s knowledge in using natural ingredients came from immersing herself in the cultures she encountered in South America. She worked with indigenous tribes in the local communities on the Galapagos islands and in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Peruvian Andes.
Now back in Ireland, Nicola preserves her connection with the communities she was so deeply inspired by. She works directly with small farmer growers in the Andes Mountains and Amazon Rainforest of Peru, who use sustainable, certified organic farming practices which is an important pillar of her skincare products.
Julie Danz, Juvi
Julie and her husband Vincent are two halves that make up Irish jewellery brand Juvi. Loved by our customers for their meaningful, often colourful collections, Juvi is a stunning jewellery collection inspired by travelling around the world.
Julie began her career as an interior designer. She moved to New York where she was exposed to a trendy Art Deco design scene which is where she got her love of colour and creative combinations. After beginning to feel the tug in her heart for her home, she returned home to Ireland where she met Vincent who was a silversmith. The pair took off backpacking around Mexico and during this trip Julie discovered what was to become a lifelong passion in gemstones.
Ensuring the gemstones are ethically sourced is an important aspect to Julie’s vision for her jewellery. Julie loves visiting Jaipur which is known for its world-leading gemstones. She is so inspired by this experience, she usually finds herself sketching the whole flight home capturing all her ideas.
All of the Juvi collections have been inspired by a corner of the world that holds a special place in Julie and Vincent’s hearts. From the vibrant and confident Manhattan to the timeless natural beauty of the Giant’s Causeway in Co.Antrim, Julie has designed a beautifully versatile collection of jewellery capturing a unique connection with places all over the world.
Roisin O’Farrell, Artist
Roisin O'Farrell is a success story of a self-taught artist and Kilkenny Design is proud to have been the first retailer to showcase her work and be part of her journey.
Roisin left the corporate world and began pursuing her passion in art. Despite being from a family of artists and writers, her inner critic held her back from following in their magnificent footsteps. But when personal and economic pressures gripped her life in 2007, Roisin began painting as a form of healing and something really wonderful started to happen.
Focusing on technique, Roisin began to develop a style where she alternated between pallet knife and brush allowing her to create rich textures. She uses bold colours which she describes as feeling “like taking sweeties from a box” when she adds them to her creations.
She started displaying her paintings at galleries and it was through this that she met Kilkenny Design’s buyer Laura Pasquetti. Laura loved her work and invited her to join the community of quality Irish makers and creators at Kilkenny.
Jennifer Rock, Skingredients
Jennifer Rock, also known as the Skin Nerd, is the expert dermal facialist and bestselling author behind Skingredients. Skin Nerd was the world’s first online facial consultancy. Her passion for skincare was ignited as a teenager when she suffered from acne and her mother brought her for a facial to help ease her inflamed skin. She became enthralled by the power of skincare and wanted to learn more about the ingredients behind the products she saw.
Skingredients is a range of award-winning, results-driven skincare products. Her background as a skin therapist combined with life-long love of the science behind products have resulted in a cutting edge brand in more ways than one. The ethos behind her ingredient selection is centred on providing the skin with a balanced diet of vitamins and nutrients. There is a full range of products ranging from cleanser to spf protection but it is designed to be a mix and match solution to your individual skincare needs.
Jennifer also champions a sustainable approach to beauty. Jennifer believes that eco-conscious beauty comes in many forms and she has decided to focus on reducing waste. As soon as Jennifer found the best manufacturing solution to her packaging, Skingredients started being bottled in refillable and recyclable packaging.
Martina Hamilton, Jewellery Designer
Martina Hamilton studied Fine Art with a specialisation in sculpture. When she completed her studies, she began experimenting with jewellery making and did a short course on it. At the time, the materials and equipment for jewellery making were more affordable and Martina discovered she could apply her design process from sculpting to her jewellery designs too.
Based in Sligo, Martina uses nature as her main muse. She developed a signature style that had meaning to her using the natural beauty in her local area and all around Ireland. Sligo means “the shelly place” in Irish and this landscape is one of Martina’s leading inspirations, with collections such as Shore and Shell.
Prompted by her beginnings as a sculptor, Martina places emphasis on creating classical pieces that feel good to touch. She echoes the natural etchings of sea onto her seashell-inspired jewellery with intricate lines and the unusual shapes of broken shells.
Central to the success of 30 years in business is Martina’s aptitude for business. She understands the importance of realising her vision commercially as well as creativity. Ultimately Martina’s dedication to creating timeless pieces means that she is able to withstand the trends that come and go.
Kira Walton, Voya
Kira Walton is the creative driving force behind one of Ireland’s best loved organic skincare brand, Voya. After leaving her corporate career behind in Dublin, Kira and her husband founded Voya 17 years ago in answer to the popularity of their family-run seaweed baths in Sligo. Now sold in 42 countries worldwide, Voya is a well-loved brand among professional spas across the world.
Voya was the world’s first certified organic seaweed-based skincare brand when it was created in 2006. Respecting the environment in which their core ingredient, seaweed, comes from has always been a key focus for the brand. Hand harvested with diligence and consideration for the natural rhythm of the sea, the seaweed used in the Voya product range is rich in countless minerals and vitamins from the waters of the famous Wild Atlantic Way.
Kira’s role in growing such a successful business has received a lot of wider recognition. She was the winner of Women Mean Business Female Entrepreneur of the Year and a finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year. She has also guided a number of subsidiary businesses to success. Over time she and her husband have adapted a winning strategy for complementing each other’s strengths. They have recognised the benefit of this way of doing business and put time and effort into growing a strong team who excel in their particular area of expertise.
Jo Harpur, Jewellery Designer
Jo Harpur has always had a love for all things sparkly since childhood. After years of being part of her family’s business, she decided it was time to follow her heart and pursue her own dream.
Jo’s approach to setting up her new business in jewellery design was tentative at first, but as she put her designs out there more and more her confidence flourished and so did her brand. Her vision was to create jewellery that was beautiful and sophisticated using only the best 925 sterling silver, 18ct gold, stunning semi-precious stones and AAA swarovski crystals. One of her proudest accolades of success came when the brand was named the best-selling jewellery brand on Aer Lingus flights two years running.
Jo Harpur is represented at all Kilkenny Design stores nationwide and loves working closely with our team to evolve her own brand. Speaking about her relationship with our team, Jo says “the Kilkenny team are undoubtedly a great force to be reckoned with and we are blessed to gain more and more exposure through their advice and encouragement each day.”
Women’s Day Every Day at Kilkenny Design
Kilkenny Design elevates and celebrates the women who make up our dedicated team across Ireland as well as our talented creators and makers who supply the best products that our customers love. This year for International Women’s Day, we are shining a spotlight on the amazing women who make us who we are, not just today but every day.