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VIP chats with Louise Cooney; “I decided to invest in myself and my brand”

Louise Cooney
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

Working on not one, but two brand new businesses, we’re delighted to have nabbed Louise Cooney for a few hours. It’s been two years since we last caught up in glitzy New York, and a lot has changed for this Limerick lady. Now happily settled into a gorgeous new Dublin rental with her boyfriend, Mark, who she met during the pandemic, she’s got her business boots on, with the laces tied tight! Since returning from the Big Apple, Louise has been focused on a number of exciting projects; the first, being the launch of her activewear brand Cloo, and the second, a wine spritzer which is set to hit shelves in the near future. “Life is all about striking a balance,” she tells us with a smile. And we couldn’t agree more!

Focusing on career moves and plans for expansion across the board, Louise is busier than ever but wouldn’t want to have it any other way. “I’ve a lot of plates in the air, but I’m being careful and proceeding with caution. I want to get it right,” she says. Following a gorgeous shoot in Dublin’s Zanzibar Locke, we sat down with Louise to chat about romance, social  media, the importance of switching off and investing in herself.

Louise Cooney
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

Louise, you’ve so much going on at the minute… where do you find the time for it all?
I feel like I’m in a million different places. I guess this is the way I’ve always wanted to be, I like being busy. Normally the beginning of the year is great for downtime but this time around, it’s absolutely not the case. I’m happy though and it makes time fly. I feel like I’m working towards my goals and it’s a nice way to start the year.

Let’s start with the new place. You just moved into a gorgeous apartment a few weeks ago, are you all settled in?
Oh I love it! It’s always fun discovering a place and getting used to all the quirks of a new spot. The light here is amazing, it’s so airy and bright. Sometimes less is more and that’s the vibe I’m going to try and keep with this space. I’ve a gorgeous painting that has every colour you can imagine and it’s a nice way to brighten up a clean, minimal place. I think it’s important to be cosy too, so lots of candles.

You previously had plans to buy, is that on hold now for the minute or have you scrapped that idea entirely?
It’s not that I’ve scrapped it because I hope some day I’ll own a place. I wanted to buy as an investment but instead of getting a house, I decided to invest in myself and my brand and create something I’ve always wanted to do, which is Cloo. That’s where those savings have gone! Hopefully one day I’ll buy but I love this place for now.

Louise Cooney
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

And of course, you moved in with your partner Mark, that’s a big step in the relationship and very exciting for you both.
Yeah, it’s our first time living together and so far it’s going amazingly. It’s so nice to get that extra time together and not have to plan to see each other. We would have spent a lot of time together before but it feels different and it’s so nice. I love it.

Tell us about the relationship, where did you first meet?
We met during lockdown and we got the chance to get to know each other properly. There was no frills, nowhere to go, so we went for lots of walks and talked. Now it’s nice to add in some fancier parts and getaways as we develop our relationship.

You kept your relationship very private on social media for a while, do you think that’s important to be able to hold a few cards close to your chest?
Completely! He never signed up to this, social media or anything along those lines so I want to be careful and respect his privacy too. It’s all about finding the balance. I can do me, be open and share a lot and he can do him. We just find the halfway mark and do whatever feels comfortable for both.

Louise Cooney
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

As someone whose job is primarily based online, do you feel pressure to constantly share everything?
Yeah, definitely. It’s the nature of the job and it’s 24/7. The longer you do it, it becomes a routine. You have to re-evaluate and think about why you’re sharing certain things, what works and what doesn’t. It’s a job at the end of the day. It’s tough to figure out because it’s a new industry, but I just try to suss it out as I go.

How do you deal with any negativity which may come your way online, I can imagine it’s quite tough at times…
It can be tough. I’ve been doing this for a long time though and developed a thick enough skin for the most part. I try to pay attention to constructive criticism. For the most part, it’s about staying in your lane and focusing on what’s important to you. I have to remind myself of that.

You’ve used your platform a lot to talk about mental health and the importance of being kind… it’s a subject very close to your heart, isn’t it?
It’s really important. Online has become such a big part of our world over the last two years and we haven’t had as much real-life meet ups or interactions. It’s become so important to us, but you have to act the same way online as you would in real life. I’m glad there are services available which are free of charge like Pieta and the Samaritans so hopefully people who feel isolated or attacked online have those to get the help they need.

Louise Cooney
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

How do you personally look after your mental health, what steps do you take to lift yourself up if you’re going through a difficult time?
One of my New Year’s resolutions in January was to be more on top of my self care. For me it’s about getting enough sleep and eating the things I need. I try to journal and write down three good things that happen every day. I get a bit of exercise, even if it’s just a little walk – it goes a long way. I love to read too, and enjoy my monthly book club so much…it’s great for escaping and helps me switch off. I like to hang out with loved ones as well, switch off my phone and just be present.

So tell us how Cloo came about.
As long as I can remember, active wear has been a big part of my wardrobe. I really got to know what I like, the fits that are flattering and the styles that look cool. For me, I want to stay active and it’s when I’m at my happiest. I want to look good but feel comfortable, and have something I’ll wear again and again and again. That’s how Cloo was born. Then I had to figure it all out. I met with someone who dealt with manufacturers who was able to point me in the right direction. I sketched up designs, got in touch with packaging experts and graphic designers. It’s a minefield but when you’re passionate about something, it can all be figured out. I’m wearing all the hats and that’s how you get to know business.

Could you see yourself opening a pop-up shop down the line or would you prefer to focus on digital sales for now?
I want to get a space in a shop and hopefully that will be happening this year. I just want to allow people to touch the clothes, try them on and see the quality before purchasing. It’s definitely on the cards for 2022. I’m working on some additional drops for this year too, some coming soon! There are new additions and some variations for summer too. I hope people will like them!

Louise Cooney
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

You’re also launching a drink brand soon, isn’t that right?
Yeah! That’s been in the works for two years. I’ve working with West Cork Distillers to create it, but it’s a brand new wine spritzer. I remember the first email was sent when I was still living in New York so it’s been going on a long time. I’ve been involved in every step of the way from the tasting to naming it to packaging. It’s so exciting and I can’t wait to see what people think of it.

You’re a busy woman, Louise! Have you always been so entrepreneurial?
I guess so. My granddad founded Tipperary Water so I’ve been so inspired by him. Now there’s a new water called Global Hydrate and my uncle is running that. I’ve always wanted to have my own thing that I’m passionate about and that I can stand behind. It’s exciting to work so hard and see something you’ve created in physical form.

With all this going on, tell us you find some time to relax and unwind!
[Laughs] I’m getting much better at it. Now it may just be a lie-on, cooking some food and sitting down to watch a programme, but I enjoy it. It’s a pretty busy year with what I’ve got lined up at the moment but I’m hoping to also continue working with brands that I love and to be able to put my own creative stamp on things. It’s all good.

Louise Cooney
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

INTERVIEW: Michelle Dardis
PHOTOGRAPHY: Lili Forberg
HAIR: Hilary O’Reilly; hillary.ie
MAKE-UP: Michelle Kinsella using Charlotte Tilbury
STYLING: Zeda The Architect

Check out clooactive.com for more on Louise’s range.
This shoot took place in the beautiful Zanzibar Locke, at Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge. Visit lockeliving.com for details or check them out on Instagram at @lockehotels

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