People were looking to Cathy O’Donoghue for design tips long before she started offering her advice professionally.
In fact, although she left CIT with a degree in Interior Architecture, she has only recently embraced her love of considerate design full time… and she’s never been busier.
Launched last year, Cathy’s business Flamingo Interior Design is behind the achingly cool commercial fit-outs at the vast Kopper City salon on Half Moon Street and The Brow Factory in Douglas.
Her Instagram feed is a festival of eye-catching residential projects, big and small, as well as plenty of inspo from her own retro-tastic home, which she shares with her partner Louis and daughter Nancy (4).
This is how she’s WORKING IT…
When I left college I worked in kitchen design for two years. Some soul searching led me into my other passion; vintage clothing, for seven years I ran a bricks and mortar store in the city as well as an online store, which I ran from home.
I decided I wanted to go back to interiors, I knew I wanted to do it alone. I don’t think my style appeals to everyone and I wanted to make sure this came across strongly in both my branding and online presence. For me, it was the only way to go.
I didn’t know for sure there was a market for my business. However, as the vintage clothing business was coming to a close (this happened due to an increasing lack of drive and funds), I was being asked by friends and family to help with their interiors. I spent about three months closing up shop and pep-talking myself into starting an interiors business. It’s an industry that was hit hard by the recession so I was quite cautious but I’m so glad I went for it in the end.
Gaining confidence in my ability and designs was the toughest part at the start. I’ve made and still make so many mistakes. It’s all part of learning so it’s all good! looking back, I regret nothing.
The best piece of career advice I’ve ever been given? It’s not necessarily career advice and I found it on Pinterest but I’ll have to go with “Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons”!
Building contacts is so important in a small city… and being nice to those contacts. I’m proud of how quickly I’ve grown in a year, I never really expected it.
My work wardrobe is functional. On site I’ll be in Doc Martens and jeans but I try to make a little more effort when first meeting a client.
The three things in my working week I love doing are brainstorming at the beginning of a project, sketching visuals and looking for inspiration locally and online.
When it comes to social media I just keep tipping away at it almost every day and responding to what gets the most interaction. It really is all about photos (and videos) these days so I try my best to only share photos that aren’t grainy or boring.
I stay organised thanks to my weekly planner, my Google calendar and self adhesive tabs!
The unique thing about doing business in Cork is you get to work with so many more smaller independent businesses. And generally knowing a family member or friend of nearly every client you meet!
2018 is all about dark and moody with a major 70’s influence. Most clients I’ve dealt with are quite open minded. They’re risk takers, which I love.
I think it’s important to chat to other designers, especially if they work on their own too. Ask advice, praise each other’s work, share sources. It can be lonely working for yourself so this kind of interaction is necessary.
I work most weekday evenings until 10pm or 11pm so I always try to squeeze in an episode of whatever is trending on Netflix and a cup of tea by the fire before bed.
What’s next for Flamingo Design? Well, I’ve just started another hair salon redesign and I’m in the middle of a few residential projects. Who knows what the future holds!