How Jean Cronin created a vintage treasure trove loved by Ireland’s most stylish women
Jean Cronin’s eponymous vintage shop is where Ireland’s most in-the-know style savants visit when searching for that something special.
For good reason: Cronin knows good vintage, having been in the game since the 1980s. Back then, she was the proprietor of Xanadu on King Street, and later on Drury St; an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of antique finds that would draw the likes of Bono and the individualistic bohemian set of the era. (Fun fact: you can see the interiors of Xanadu in this Barclays ad from 1980 starring the late Peter Sellers.)
The Dubliner always knew she wanted her own shop, reminiscing on a childhood trip to the iconic Biba store in London that spawned the desire to one day have her own brick-and-mortar to sell her wares.
“I distinctly remember turning to my mum and telling her I wanted to do something just like that when I grew up. Biba was the most magical shop I had ever seen, there was nothing like it in Ireland and I remember that excitement so well. I went to NCAD and studied fine art which was great when it came to starting my own creative business,” Cronin told IMAGE.
After taking a break in the early aughts to become a mum, she got back to business in 2004 when an opportunity to join in stylist Aisling Farinella’s The Loft Market retail project in the Powerscourt Townhouse arose. Fast forward almost fifteen years and Cronin is still a resident in the Dublin 2 space, this time with her daughter Alison [Rooney] by her side, at the helm of her own standalone store.
“I thoroughly enjoy what I do and I think customers pick up on that and enjoy the experience too. If you are passionate about something it shows through your work,” Cronin said.
A choker necklace, handmade by Jean Cronin, on the cover of IMAGE
“I have had so many experiences I feel proud of… owning a small independent business comes with its own rewards, meeting really interesting people from all walks of life and getting feedback from my lovely customers makes me feel proud.”
“I love the sustainability of vintage, nurturing and then passing on to the next person,” Cronin continued. “I love taking care of pieces I pick up and then passing on my finds to the next person to care for them.”
Of course, there are many pieces that she could never part with.
“They all carry a memory,” she said. “One piece, in particular, is a Chinese robe from the 1700s, given to me by my parents — this is sentimental and a magnificent piece.”
Of her buying process, and her own shopping habits, she concluded, “I never set out looking for anything in particular, something just catches my eye and I fall in love with its print, material, etc. I love really interesting and rare vintage. It’s such a vast area. I’m very lucky that I still have contacts I made in the ’80s who collect for me. I will never know what I’ll come across, and that’s the joy of it!”
To learn more about what sparks joy for Jean, visit jeancronin.com