Dreaming Always: How Nessa and Leona made it all come true
The dream is in the detail for Nessa Hurley and Leona O’Sullivan Breen.
The visionary pair are behind Dreaming Always, a modern platform where creative women can connect.
In the past year however, the friends have managed to do something few brands accomplish so quickly; they’ve pushed their lifestyle website out of the fluffy blogosphere and into a special and important space, carefully constructed to support the dreams and aspirations of other women.
The evolution has created a loyal community of fans for whom they now hold tailored events designed to engage, entertain and spark conversation.
Despite being based in different parts of the world (Nessa works as a marketing consultant for various brands in Ireland and Dubai, while Leona is Global Social Media Manager at VM Ware in Cork) the duo’s collaborations continue apace, with big plans for 2018 in the pipeline.
In their own words, this is how they’re WORKING IT…
We met a few years ago when Leona ran her own styling workshops and events with Le Chat Noir Vintage Events & OhMeOhMyDIY events. We bonded over our love of vintage styling, weddings and interiors and found that we worked well together on events so Dreaming Always was born.
The idea was to create a platform where we could meet like-minded women, to make connections, to start conversations, to be inspired and to dream. When we decided to set the website up, we were both pregnant and both working full time. We wanted a creative outlet – a place to escape – that allowed us to focus on our favourite things – interiors, style, places and motherhood, as well as event planning and styling. We wanted to create something a little different – events with a purpose… we started hosting our Mama Meet-Ups which have since evolved into Meet-Ups for all women where big conversations happen and more than nappy creams are discussed. We wanted to bring an element of self-care to our events. Women taking time out of their busy lifestyles for themselves.
We started Dreaming Always when we were both living in Cork two years ago. Nessa has since moved to Dubai with her husband and little girl Emie-Rose. Leona lives in Cork with her husband and two kids, Archie and Mabel. The dual location has been working well for us to date but we both know that we will be back together in Cork before long as we work best together.
We toyed with the idea of Dreaming Always for a few months. We wanted to get our message right. We didn’t want to just be another blog… the market is saturated with blogs right now. We wanted to have a voice and to speak honestly about experiences that we have had as mothers and women.
Cork is small so you can get things done quickly once you set your mind to it. There is a supportive network in Cork that just makes doing business so enjoyable.
It took us a while to define ourselves and to figure out the direction we wanted to go with our features and events. It has also taken us a while to gather a loyal following but now we are surrounded by the most inspiring group of women who support us and encourage us in the most incredible way. We have created a little community of women who look out for each other, who celebrate each other’s wins as if they are their own, who keep each other motivated when the going gets tough and who have created opportunities for each other and that’s exactly what we set out to achieve.
Not everyone is going to ‘get’ you. There are so many people that don’t understand what it is that we do. We always stay true to ourselves… what you see is exactly what you get.
We have found in quite hard to grow our social media following. In the past we have felt a bit dejected and put off by the lack of engagement we would get after posting a photo that took weeks of planning to create but now that we are more confident in ourselves and the Dreaming Always brand, we don’t worry about that because we know that the people that do follow us are following us for a reason and want to visit our page. Seven genuine ‘likes’ mean more to us than 700 people who really don’t get us and what Dreaming Always is all about.
Looking back, we would stop being so hard on ourselves and believe in ourselves a bit more. It is way more fun when you take yourself less seriously.
Three things in our working week we love doing:
- Choosing our photos for social media – we are very particular as we don’t just post for the sake of posting. There is a lot of thought put into each photo and caption and we work a lot with photographers to make sure that our content is visually appealing and creative.
- Meeting with brands about our Meet-Ups – we could chat to people over coffee all day every day.
- Chatting to and getting to know people on our Instagram – we cannot describe our admiration and love for the women we have met online over the last two years.
We just hosted a beautiful event with a gorgeous interiors store in Cork called Interiosity in collaboration with Aoife from Pomco PR. It was for the launch of their Christmas collection and it was just such an incredible night. We were so delighted to work with such a beautiful brand. There was such a buzz in the room and we felt a lot of love that night. We all created a little bit of magic together.
We run social media accounts for lots of different types of businesses so we know how valuable it is to a brand. It shows your personality and shows what you believe in. We think that all brands are responsible these days for promoting some social good, for having a voice and for using their platforms to get a message across to their followers. Rather than simply pushing your brand’s product or agenda, how can you positively impact someone’s life through your social media channels? Once you have this nailed, you are ahead of the rest!
How do we stay organised? We are not organised. We can’t even lie. We both work very late at night… long after the babas are in bed. We take any excuse possible to eat out. It’s our favourite thing to do.
It is all about video in 2018 so for those camera-shy people, you need to step out of your comfort zone. We still cringe doing videos – I don’t think we will ever get used to it!
We have big plans. We were supposed to launch our own brand of products in 2017 but we just didn’t get a chance so 2018 is our year. We want to meet more amazing women and work with more brands that we love. We just want to do what we love between Cork and Dubai.