This much I know: Designer Mary Grant

I am at my happiest when I am doing something creative.

That can be painting a wall or updating an antique piece of furniture. I always wanted to make a living from doing something with my hands.

I was a very shy type of child, not outgoing at all. I blushed at everything, I still do. It’s a curse really.

My earliest memory is when I figured out how to take the bottom out of my cot before I was big enough to climb over the top.

I set up business in 1993 with my first bridal collection sold through the Design Centre in Powerscourt Townhouse. It didn’t occur to me that I would end up designing my own collections when I started college. What I really wanted was to be able to draft patterns. Then I went down the rabbit hole and discovered a whole world I had never dreamed would become my future.

It’s a constant juggle to achieve any kind of elusive work life balance. I habitually work very long hours, but once I sit down at night, the work head is off. It’s probably not an ideal balance but it works for me.

I’m extremely disciplined... except when I’m not!

The best advice I ever received is that ‘the longest way around, is the shortest way home’. What I took from that was: do it right the first time.

The trait I most admire in other people is an outgoing nature.

My biggest challenge in life so far has been juggling raising three kids on my own while running a business. It’s starting to get easier as they are now in their late teens.

When I want to switch off entirely, I will set the alarm very early and head to the beach for sunrise, or I will wait until everybody has gone home and head there for sunset. I especially love west coast beaches in the winter when the waves are impressive. I also love driving, the music gets turned up and I become both the lead and backing singer.

I try to be health conscious, especially having three teenagers. We have home cooked meals every day. I’m not a gym bunny, it bores me senseless. I’m a bit of a freak, I love getting stuck into housework.

My main fault is that I’m a perfectionist. I’m all in or all out.

My idea of happiness is having peace of mind.

My idea of misery is living with people who are difficult.

If I could swap bodies with somebody else for a day, it would be with a person fighting for survival in a warzone, to experience what that would be like.

If money was not an issue I would do exactly what I am doing now, but I would do it in a different way. I take calculated risks, but it would be good to put some safety nets in place.

If I could change one thing in Irish society I’d change the secondary level education system so that kids get to embrace and explore their individuality. It’s probably because it is where I am at with my own kids. I’d also like to change the perception that everybody has to go to college. Some kids would be better encouraged towards apprenticeships.

My greatest fear is becoming dependent on anybody when I am older.

I’m definitely a lark - not a night person at all.

If I could pass on one piece of advice about life to the next generation I’d say: you are your own person, get in touch early with who you are, what you believe in, and embrace what is unique about you. Life is a better journey when you are happy in your own skin.

I’m a complete technology geek, I’m always learning something new. If I was a school goer today, I’d be interested in exploring technology and engineering.

My main skill is definitely juggling things. I encourage people to develop a unique package of skills. That is what creates your USP. Mine are design and photography and technology.

So life has taught me that you come into this world on your own and you leave it on your own and everything in between is a journey.

  • Mary Grant’s designs are available from her shops in The Powerscourt Townhouse Centre Dublin and 7 Cutlery Road, Newbridge, Co Kildare and online at


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