Joan Cashman, founder of the Colour and Image Academy
When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?
When I was very small, I wanted to be a princess, but my relatives had notions that I’d make a good nun! We have a canon in the family and the nuns used to visit with bags of sweets. I would play along with this idea of joining the order to make sure I was first in line for the sweets. However, my mother knew me better, she kept all my old school copybooks that were littered with drawings of women in pretty dresses, all beautifully coloured-in with my crayons. I’m not sure an interest in fashion and makeup is what the nuns were looking for!
Tell us about your career progression to your role today:
Growing up, I was always surrounded by music and many a great session we had in our house. I started to play the accordion at nine years of age. In my teens, my brother and I formed our own four-piece band – I played keyboard and button accordion, John played bass and piano accordion, we also had a live drummer (as opposed to electric drums) and lead guitarist. We had crowds following us up and down the country! We could end up playing three to four nights during the week and then weddings on weekends.
Back then I held down two jobs; in addition to playing music by night, I was head of accounts and credit control for an Irish food giant by day. When I married, I gave up both jobs to focus on the family business and raise our two small children. I missed the buzz of being surrounded by people and needed an outlet for my creativity.
I got my colours done when I was 18 and it opened up a whole new world to me! When the kids started school, I decided to train with Colour Me Beautiful. I had no real intention of ever making a career of it, but I couldn’t ignore the calling. I loved telling people what suited them, and they seemed to love hearing it, so the word got around!
One day in 1995 I saw a small little studio in the Savoy Shopping Centre that I knew would be perfect. From the minute I opened my doors, bookings just rolled in. I won the top international awards every year with Colour Me Beautiful and in 2000 I was headhunted to take over the Irish division.
I enjoyed every minute and was honoured with the Outstanding Contribution Award within the industry. As if I didn’t have enough to do, I also took on the role of the international trainer (UK and Europe). It was a mind-blowing experience and a wonderful opportunity.
As the industry evolved, I saw a gap in the market for a style and makeup school. Finally, with my husband’s encouragement, I took the plunge to go it alone.
In 2006, I opened my very own Colour and Image Academy in Cork’s Carey’s Lane and have never looked back. I have the privilege of training fashion influencers, designers, beauty bloggers, boutique owners and women with exceptional creative flair who want to work for themselves. The phone never stops but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?
It’s hard to pick just one thing. Making people feel good about themselves and giving them the confidence to make positive career and personal changes. The cards and messages I get from happy clients who thank me and the personal stories they share. The connection with the audience when I do my style night fundraisers around the country.
I also enjoy the variety; I could be styling front-of-house hotel employees one day and hosting style nights/hen parties the next. The following week I might be running my training courses, doing one-to-one private consultations, training personnel for large department stores or running workshops on interview dressing in colleges and regional development centres… the list is endless. No two days are the same and I love that.
What motivates you?
I’m so passionate about what I do, I’m obsessed! My mind is always on it and trying to improve on it. To quote Diane Von Furstenberg, “to inspire confidence is the best gift you can give anybody” and that is what I do every day. I help women (and men) to make the most of themselves by giving them the confidence and easy step-by-step guidance on how to do so.
What advice would you give your 15 year old self?
Don’t be so self-conscious and don’t worry so much. You are enough!
If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?
I perish at the thought! It would have to be something creative.
What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?
Maintaining a happy family life and raising two amazing children that have grown into well-rounded adults with successful careers of their own. Career-wise, my greatest career achievement has been my decision to open my own academy without a doubt. I'm also very grateful for my international awards and recognition I have received over the years for my contribution within the industry.
Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?
Oh my mother for sure, she had such strength and resilience, she was my motivator and my backbone.
What is the life dream now?
To continue to support, mentor and empower people through my work. I also plan to spend as much time as possible enjoying my family and when they have kids of their own to spoil them rotten.
How do you switch off?
At the minute sitting down with a cuppa and watching ‘MasterChef the Professionals’. I also still love music, whether it be playing the accordion myself or going to a gig with friends.
What is your favourite Cork memory?
April 1995 - the day my sign went up over my door in the Savoy Shopping Centre.
What is your favourite place in Cork?
My home is my sanctuary! Patrick St especially at Christmas is a close second.
Do you have a favourite quote or motto?
“Create your own visual style… Let it be unique to yourself and yet identifiable to others” - Orson Welles
When are you at your happiest?
When I’m being creative, which I fortunately get to do every day with work. I'm also in my element when I have all the family home for Christmas, which always involves wholesome home cooking, lots of laughter and a good old singalong!
Life is too short for regrets!
What is your hidden talent?
I can still bang out a tune on the accordion when the mood strikes. And I love to cook.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
That I trained as a bio energy therapist and I studied practical philosophy. I’m very much into positive energy.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
I have courses starting in February in colour analysis and makeup artistry. Each course is five days – from 10am to 5pm daily. I have limited availability so if you are thinking of changing your career or want a part-time income and you have a love for fashion then just pick up the phone and give me a call. I would love to hear from you!