A careful reconfiguration of this Victorian Belfast home added a roof terrace and a sleek kitchen
A careful reconfiguration of this Victorian Belfast home added a roof terrace and a sleek...

IMAGE Interiors & Living

Inside this coastal East Cork property on sale for €800,000
Inside this coastal East Cork property on sale for €800,000

IMAGE

Real Weddings: Nicole and Aidan’s fairytale wedding in Co Wicklow
Real Weddings: Nicole and Aidan’s fairytale wedding in Co Wicklow

Shayna Sappington

WIN a €500 voucher for the Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford
WIN a €500 voucher for the Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford

IMAGE

The Undecided: No wonder more of us are unsure about parenthood
The Undecided: No wonder more of us are unsure about parenthood

Sarah Macken

Break out the barbecue with our top tips for cooking outdoors
Break out the barbecue with our top tips for cooking outdoors

Marlene Wessels

This bright family home is on the market for €285,000
This bright family home is on the market for €285,000

Sarah Finnan

Work smarter, not harder: four secrets to being more productive at work
Work smarter, not harder: four secrets to being more productive at work

Jenny Darmody

Ditch Amazon and buy your books from these independent Irish stores instead
Ditch Amazon and buy your books from these independent Irish stores instead

Sarah Finnan

This Connemara cottage complete with a round room studio is on the market for €450,000
This Connemara cottage complete with a round room studio is on the market for €450,000

Sarah Gill

Image / Agenda / Business
Sponsored

3 leading Irish businesswomen on why it’s time to redefine the idea of ‘luxury’

Sponsored By

By Shayna Sappington
20th Mar 2023
Sponsored By
3 leading Irish businesswomen on why it’s time to redefine the idea of ‘luxury’

"As a society, we are moving away from mass consumption and towards considered purchases and the value of investing in one’s own wellness." - Dr Helena McMahon

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in priorities for the average businesswoman – and one for the better. In fact, 87% of IMAGE readers rate their wellbeing as “very important” to them*. We’re moving towards a time with a more purposeful mindset by harnessing the power of “saying no”.

We are saying no to working overtime without pay, no to being passed over for well-deserved promotions, no to choosing our job over our physical and mental health – as we should never have to choose one or the other. In a time when workers have the microphone, we’re speaking up and demanding our employer and ourselves to treat us kindly.

With this shift in mind, we spoke to three leading Irish businesswomen – Dr Helena McMahon, co-founder of SEABODY, Seonadh Johnson, director, private wealth management at Key Capital, and Maoliosa Murray, interiors consultant at MAOLIOSA – about this positive change and how it’s redefined the idea of “luxury” for the modern woman.

Dr Helena McMahon, co-founder, SEABODY

Tell us a bit about your background and your current role.

It has been a winding but hugely exciting path fuelled by a fascination with science and technology. My career started in research and innovation in human physiology and biotechnology, with a BSc in Biomedical science, an MSc in Molecular Medicine and a PhD in gene and cellular therapeutics. 

This, combined with my passion for sustainability, sparked my interest in creating natural products for human health and wellness. I’ve co-founded a number of companies including SEABODY, where my focus is on innovation via new ingredient and product development and scaling sustainability across all aspects of the business.  

As an Irish businesswoman, what does luxury mean to you?

There is a global shift taking place in the meaning and relevance of luxury due to an evolving culture of environmental concern. The new luxury consumer is mindful and future-oriented, looking to remove themselves from outdated models of mass consumption. They are engaged, conscious and focused on making the right purchasing decisions that align with sustainable living. 

This is creating a demand for sustainable luxury with forward-thinking products, where supply chain transparency, the production process, the full product lifecycle and product experience are as considered as the physical product itself. The new luxury customer’s focus is not on price, it is on the culture, community and values they identify with and the aligning brands that are committed to contributing and shifting the dial towards this sense of responsible and positive impact. 

As women begin to prioritise their wellbeing, the definition of ‘luxury’ is changing. Why do you think that’s happening?

Absolutely, we all know that time, health and wellness are the ultimate luxuries in life. As a society, we are moving away from the mode of mass consumption to considered purchases and the value of investing in one’s own wellness, shared experiences and community.  

This is leading to a huge increase in supporting homegrown brands, for the environmental, social and economic benefits, right across sectors. Similarly, there is an increase in spending on wellness, both products and experiences, from connecting with the outdoors and being in nature to investing in sustainable travel experiences. 

In my world, eating out is the new going out, what joy that can bring. We all adore getting that beautiful new pair of shoes, a purse, a bottle of perfume or an item of clothing that has a story, quality and longevity – this is what we are seeing with the transition to conscious consumption. Ultimately it is all about meaning, positive impact, memories and connection. 

How do you prioritise your physical and mental wellbeing in your own life? 

It can be really hard to find balance. When operating in a fast-paced environment you can get swept away in the speed of it all. It can be so challenging to get that balance right and prioritise yourself and your relationships, especially with hybrid working

There are a few core things that keep me on track (most of the time). One is a set start time of 9:15am, no early meetings and a commitment to taking the school run. Also, scheduling time for exercise – I used to be a morning person but find after work is a great way to reset the mind’s focus from work to life. Finally, investing in friendships, finding the joy of laughter on a daily basis, and spending as much time as possible outdoors.

What’s your go-to little luxury? How does this help you unwind or recharge?

There are quite a few things which are time-dependent, but any combination of getting a walk on the beach, heading to the gym, an amazing meal, a catch-up with family and friends, and my evening skincare ritual – anything that helps me be in the moment.  

Seonadh Johnson, director, private wealth management, Key Capital

Tell us a bit about your background and your current role.

After studying international business and languages, I spent 17 years working abroad, mainly in private banking, managing client relationships and advising on investment portfolios. I moved back home to Dublin in 2021 to join Key Capital Private as a client advisor. I also serve on the board of a non-profit social enterprise, Sailing into Wellness, which provides opportunities for vulnerable and marginalised groups around Ireland to overcome physical and mental challenges.

As an Irish businesswoman, what does luxury mean to you?

Luxury is being able to enjoy quality time, with both myself and with family and friends, balanced with a fulfilling career. It is also the freedom to treat myself and others without feeling guilty. When I consider luxury goods and services, I trust that they will be delivered with a high standard of quality.

As women begin to prioritise their wellbeing, the definition of ‘luxury’ is changing. Why do you think that’s happening?

In terms of gift requests, which I have made and received, I have seen a shift in focus from ‘things’ to experiences. We are much more aware of sustainability than ever before, reducing clutter and ultimately landfill. 

COVID lockdowns also made people of all ages appreciate the value of spending time together at concerts, the theatre, sporting events and dining out. No amount of ‘stuff’ could compensate for missing out on such experiences. Where I once travelled to a city on a shopping trip, I now travel to places primarily to catch up with family and friends over lovely long meals.

How do you prioritise your physical and mental wellbeing in your own life? 

I listen to my body and rest when I need to. Getting into bed by 9:30pm is a luxury for me and I really believe that a good night’s sleep is a superpower. Related to this is another superpower – learning to say no, which can be really empowering. I have learned over time that saying yes to every request always means saying no to something else.

What’s your go-to little luxury? How does this help you unwind or recharge?

I treat myself to a manicure every three to four weeks. It also helps me switch off as I cannot use my phone. The only other time that I switch off like that is on a flight!

Maoliosa Murray, interior consultant, MAOLIOSA

Tell us a bit about your background and your current role.

I am a designer and retailer; my Dublin-based design consultancy works with clients on high-end luxury residential properties in Dublin and London. I am lucky to partner with the global luxury design brand, The Rug Company, who I have collaborated with for 12 years and represent exclusively for the Irish market. Also, I am the exclusive Irish partner of furniture brands The Invisible Collection and Se Collection.

My role oversees all aspects of the business from designing projects and curating for clients to market outreach for my brands and developing new business. However, my most important job is being a mum to my four-year-old son Max, so, finding balance is key, but not always easy.

As an Irish businesswoman, what does luxury mean to you?

As a businesswoman and single working mother, luxury is striking that balance. Finding time for myself is something I am really trying to factor into my daily routine.

As women begin to prioritise their wellbeing, the definition of ‘luxury’ is changing. Why do you think that’s happening?

I think we are all beginning to realise that it’s ok to take time for yourself and to invest in yourself for your own well-being and mental health. I am seeing this across our design briefs, creating wellness areas in homes and luxe spaces that give something more than just pure aesthetics to clients. 

Women are treating themselves and investing in great pieces of furniture that are iconic designs and also bring genuine comfort, physically and mentally.

How do you prioritise your physical and mental wellbeing in your own life? 

It’s a daily battle still, as I am guilty of never stopping. I’m trying to not look at my phone in the evenings. As a mother, there is no day off so I am attempting to take an afternoon once a week before school pick-up just to slow down and catch up on personal admin.

Exercise is a priority for my mental health and I recently joined Eden One, which is right beside my office. I plan to try and relax a couple of hours a week (on my afternoon off!) utilising their spa and yoga classes.

What’s your go-to little luxury? How does this help you unwind or recharge?

A massage is a real treat. I love reformer pilates and feel amazing after a class. A glass of red wine and chocolate can work wonders too!

*Statistic from an Instagram survey conducted in October 2022.

The new Range Rover is the ultimate luxury vehicle designed for businesswomen who are constantly on the go. With exquisite design and convenient features, it ticks all the boxes to make your work commute a breeze. To learn more about the new Range Rover, visit landrover.ie.

Photography of Maoliosa Murray by Melanie Mullan. Shot on location at the Cliff Beach House, Ardmore, Co Waterford.