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Cork Independent

Style & Beauty

Charisma Fashions turns 25

Wednesday, 27th February, 2019 3:28pm

Charisma Fashions is celebrating 25 years in business this year. To mark the milestone the Cork Independent caught up with owner Maria Connolly, who owns two stores in Charleville and Kanturk.


Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Milford, North Cork. I moved to Australia in 1987 as there was no work here. I worked as a beauty therapist and later moved into fashion. I set up Charisma Fashions in 1994.

How long are you working in


I have 30 years experience in this area, having worked with brands such as David Jones and Clarins. I’ve always been drawn to to fashion and beauty. I believe that how you look affects how you feel.

How did Charisma Fashions come about?

Towards the end of my time in Australia, I took five months off to look for premises for a potential business. I searched all over Ireland including Macroom. I decided to set up in Charleville where I rented from an aquaintance of my father’s for £50 a week. The night before the grand opening I twisted my ankle and was stuck in hospital. My friend had to stand in and I was so worried about it, but when I got down to the shop, she had taken in over £800 in the first day. There was no support in those days however. Even as a single mum of two, the business went from strength to strength and six months later, I set up in Kanturk.

What is your day to day routine?

I work in the shop two or three days a week. I enjoy every minute, from opening up, organising the shelves and welcoming the customers. I give them help if they need it and chat with the locals, as many are friends of mine. They always appreciate the honest feedback and advice I give them. Many even come back in to show me photos of them wearing their outfits at events!

Favourite thing about working at Charisma?

All my friends and customers. I also love travelling to Paris and Milan to scout out new stock. I still get as excited as the very first time. Sometimes I’m nervous that I’ve bought the wrong thing, but it’s always worked out and I’ve always been on trend! I like to bring a competitive edge to the market in terms of quality and price.

How many staff work with you?

I have five part time staff spread across the two shops. It’s so important to boost local jobs in the area.

Plans and hopes for Charisma?

Currently I am concentrating on improving the online side of the business. I’m taking a business accelerating course with LEO to help with this. I also attend the North Cork Business Alliance meeting every Friday morning which is a great source of support.

Why has Charisma been such a success?

I have great staff, some of whom have been with me since almost the beginning, one lady has been with me 22 years and another 21 years. Our customer base is also a huge factor. We have women who have shopped here for years now bringing in their daughters. To have that loyal support locally is so important. I would like to thank our local customers, their support means so much; they educated my kids, they bought my house.

Tell us about your event on 22 March in Charisma Kanturk?

Local stylist Joan Cashman from the Colour and Image Academy will be in store from 6pm to give a demonstration and share her expertise while you shop. There will be food and a raffle on the night. Tickets cost €5 and are available from both stores. All proceeds will go to Marymount Hospice, a charity close to my heart as my father died from cancer.

Tickets have been flying out the door so pick up yours now. Keep an eye out for details of an event in the Charleville shop in May.

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