Ronan Maher talks to Catwalk Modelling Agency founder Mandy Maher
Name: Mandy Maher
Occupation: Owner and operator of Catwalk Modelling Agency
Newsworthiness: Mandy has organised the second annual Glamour in Galway event, which takes place at the Salthill Hotel on Sunday 20 November from 11am to 7pm.
While some people merely pay lip service to the ‘supporting local business’ concept, especially when money is tight, it is something Catwalk Modelling Agency founder Mandy Maher lives by.
The local businesswoman, who runs her modelling agency from her base in Kinvara, is again hosting ‘Glamour in Galway’, a beauty, fashion and pampering event that will be held at the Salthill hotel this Sunday.
The inaugural event attracted over 1,500 visitors last year and this year they are hoping to match, if not exceed, that number. Mandy says they felt it was important to bring an event of this scale to Galway, to offer local beauty and fashion retailers the opportunity to sell their wares and broaden their customer base.
“We ourselves are trying to support the businesses in Galway and to have people [attend] so that they [businesses] can come in and do well out of it on the day. Otherwise, if they are not going to make money on the day, bottom line, they are not going to book next year,” she says.
Mandy says that the importance of such an event to the local economy is not to be underestimated, as people travelled from all over Ireland for the 2010 show.
“Obviously, we got huge support from Galway, but people from Dublin, Limerick and Cork travelled to go to the show for the day. That means it’s bringing money to Galway as well because women are coming, they’re staying overnight, they’re eating out, they’re buying, so it means there is money being spent in the city that weekend.
“I think it’s very very important that we look after people on our own doorstep and that we support businesses locally… I wouldn’t be in business only for the local people because they don’t ever pass us for work… that’s why when you are buying or when you are shopping I think you need to be conscious of looking after your own,” she says.
A native of Nenagh in Tipperary, Mandy has been living in Galway for over 20 years. She went to Limerick at the age of 16 to study as a gym instructor and to start her burgeoning modelling career.
Only a few years later, at the age of 19, she moved to Galway with her then boyfriend and now husband Ger O’Connor. Thirteen years ago, when she was in her mid 20s, Mandy saw a gap in the market for a modelling agency in Galway and has been heading up Catwalk Modelling Agency ever since.
“Any fashion shows or anything that was going on in Galway at the time, it was all models from either Limerick or Dublin doing the shows and I thought why not have our own girls do it,” she says.
Ger and Mandy make quite the team, as Ger is responsible for the production and lighting of all Catwalk Modelling Agency shows.
The Glamour in Galway event will offer women the chance to visit over 60 exhibitors offering special discounts and see a huge array of different beautification methods on show.
“It is basically an all day pampering event for women to come together, whether it’s mothers and daughters, sisters or friends to come and have literally a full day out of browsing, shopping, everything from clothes, jewellery, bags and make-up. They can sit down and get their hair and make-up done or get their nails painted,” she says.
The event will also feature three fashion shows, the first featuring wares from the Athlone Town Centre, the second an exclusive Brown Thomas show and the third showcasing boutiques from Galway and around the country. Brendan Courtney from RTÉ’s ‘Off the Rails’ will lead the makeover of four lucky competition winners who have already been specially selected.
“Their pampering starts the day before on Saturday… a full make-over is done on those [women] and they are revealed at the actual fashion shows on the Sunday itself,” she says.
Brendan Courtney will also tour the floor chatting to the assembled fashionistas and doling out the beauty tips. Also appearing will be world hairdressing champion Mary Kennedy and Ireland’s leading make-up artist Derrick Carberry. There will also be music throughout the day.
Going forward, Catwalk will host a Dream Wedding Exhibition in Leisureland on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 January 2012 featuring daily fashion shows, bridal beauty makeovers and workshops.
Glamour in Galway takes place at the Salthill Hotel on Sunday 20 November from 11am to 7pm. Tickets cost €15 and are available from www.glamouringalway.com or at the door on the day.