Kate Henihan Melie B Limerick
Working for herself was nothing new for Kate Henihan (pictured left, with daughter and business partner Meli O’Mahony), who had worked in the bloodstock industry for more than 20 years. In her case, it was just the product that changed when she decided to open her own boutique. “Believe it or not, the bloodstock industry was a great basis for the fashion business,” says the 54-year-old.
“It prepares you as a person for the swift changes you have to make, and the knocks you have to take. In the end, all I have done is put what I knew about horses into clothes.”
Henihan opened Melie B with her daughter in Killaloe, Co Clare in June 2004, and she admits to always having had a “little obsession with fashion, even though I did not indulge it.”
She moved the business to Limerick in April 2006, before an unfortunate mishap when the roof blew off the building, forcing them to shut for four months. It reopened this March, and despite what she calls “a start fraught with hairpin bends rather than learning curves”, she is happy with how things have turned out.
Since then, business has been good and it has been helped, according to Henihan, by the mother-daughter combination. “It’s hard working with family, but the support is great,” she says, adding that her daughter Meli, 24, is more of a risk-taker than she is when it comes to buying, and so together they make a good team.
She says she sees their job as dressing people more than selling clothes: “It’s the best thing when you put a woman in a dress and she feels incredible. That’s part of the drive.”
As if this isn’t enough, Henihan is in the process of expanding the business and opening an interiors section in the basement – the official launch is in the coming weeks – and there are future plans to add a range of bridal wear.
In the long run, she wants to create a mini-department store in Limerick, filled with beautiful things for women.
Given the fact that all this is achieved while keeping four dogs, 10 cats and two horses, it seems highly probable that she will manage to combine any number of challenges.