It can be hard to find joy right now with our world so upended and human suffering laid bare before our eyes. But lucky for us – and we are so lucky – we get to spend today with one of the most positive people we know, businesswoman, Pippa O’Connor Ormond, who, with a blend of commercial savvy and karmic good vibes, has built a fashion empire from the bottom up.
But, it’s not just Pippa we have cheering us up today – we have baby Billy too! Four-and-a-half months of cuddly pudge and baby laughter, it does magic things for the soul! BIlly’s not a complainer, either. Neither is his mum. In fact, Pippa has a name for those who bring the vibes down. “Drainers,” she calls them, “I am all about positivity and I literally cannot stand to be around people who are negative all the time. And unless someone is dead or dying, I don’t stress,” she tells us in this warm interview.
It’s a great motto to live by – if you can. If live affords you that luck. But, luck they say you make. Be open to receive and project goodness back. Essentially it’s manifesting, which Pippa has being doing for years, long before manifesting was even a thing. “ But imagine”, she says sorrowfully, “if all we all could manifest peace right now.” Following an hour of oohing at baby boy number 3 (Ollie is now 9 and Louis is 6) we sit and chat about Poco’s Ukraine fundraiser (they raised €36,500 for the Irish Red Cross a drop in the ocean of tears, Pippa knows, but better than nothing nonetheless), she confesses to being the not-so-proud owner of a messy wardrobe, we talk about the economic impact of war and about what it is like to be a mum of three gorgeous boys.
Pippa, you’re a bit dreamy! You do seem like you are still in that lovely baby bubble!
Totally! [laughing] I still am besotted, as are Brian and the two boys. We are all obsessed!
Us too today! Also, because Bill is so chill! Not a peep out of him. But…mammy is chill.
Do you think I’m chill?! [laughing] Ah, I probably am more chilled now on baby number three. Not that I was a stresser. But take today, if it was my first baby and his first photooshoot, I’d be thinking, when’s he going to feed and when’s he going to sleep, but now I’m like, whatever, it doesn’t matter.
So, what is it nature or nurture? What do you think?
The only time he really gives out, which is rare, is when he’s hungry. And I know when that is now so I don’t let him get to that hangry stage. I do think babies are born with a temperament, but I do also believe that it is what they are surrounded by. He’s a happy baby, touch wood, because it can be hard, especially with the tiredness.
You don’t look tired at all.
Oh, I do [shocked]. Makeup! (FYI: We used some Pippa’s own collection, UP favourites like the best selling ten palette on her eyes and also the Perfect nude lipstick.) I am wrecked. He’s only waking once in the night at 4.30am, and he may go back to sleep at 5.30am, but I don’t. Eventually that takes its toll.
So, lots of coffee and Red Bull then?!
Revive Active! It gives me a boost. I genuinely feel if I don’t take it for a week I will be more sluggish. I also think people underestimate water. Three litres a day will save me, my skin, my hair, my head. Water is so important. We can all do it, but we forget. And we all mistake hunger for thirst. I fill up water bottles when I fill up the boys and have them in the fridge ready-to-go.
Everyone is busy manifesting these days. But, did you, unbeknownst to yourself, manifest a happy family and thriving business years ago?
I was only chatting to Roxie Nafousi (author, podcaster, manifester) on her podcast about this recently. I think I was manifesting before I even realised what I was doing. Before I married Brian, ten years ago, I watched The Secret and that is probably where is started for me. I had The Secret book and the app on my phone and everyday still I get The Secret affirmations. It always has been something I have done, and believed. I am all about positivity and I literally cannot stand to be around people who are negative all the time. I, of course, have bad days, but I just try to pull myself out of a funk and shake myself and remember the things I’m happy and grateful for.
Speaking of which, can you believe you’re a mum to three boys?
No! But I think I’m destined to have boys. Even if I did have more kids, I’m sure I’d have all boys!
And yet you’re such a girlie girl!
Brian Dowling thinks it’s hilarious how I’m like queen of the castle, who loves fashion, but yet I’m surrounded by lads! Even the dog is a boy!
Has having sons thought you about men?
I suppose it has. What I’ve learnt is that they’re not as complex, for example, as me! They say what they want and feel. They’re easier to read. They’re direct.
They’re directness can sometimes feel sharp, though? You wouldn’t mind a bit of dressing up the truth, sometimes!
I like their directness actually. Brian is very to the point. Sometimes he can be sharp, sometimes I will say, “Oh maybe don’t say it like that, maybe say it this way”. Louis is very like that too. I’d sometimes say to him, “Oh, Louis, you can’t say that, and he’d look at me and go, ‘But why?” [laughs] Ollie is different, he’s a much more sensitive boy. And he takes everything in. He’s really invested and interested and proud, in a way, of what we do. You can see his little face when we open a new shop.…
Aw, he’ll be following into the family business!
Oh god, I hope not [laughing]. I hope he chooses something a little easier.
Is it that hard?
You don’t make it look hard. You make it look easy…
And I don’t like that people think I make it look easy. I don’t purposefully try to do that. I’m not the type to cry and be stressed publicly…unless someone is dead or dying I don’t get stressed. But business is hard.
Have you mange recently to step away and take a little maternity leave?
I haven’t really taken any. I had Billy on the 22nd of October and then two weeks after Billy was born we opened Movers, the shoe shop on Harry Street, opposite the Westbury, in Dublin. I wasn’t involved in the actual opening of it, but I did go in the day it opened. I wasn’t physically working but I have been working behind the scenes. If I added up the hours it would only be a couple of hours a day, nothing crazy. But it’s easy and I love it, and if I’ve had a bad night with him and am wrecked you won’t see me on social media or down at the pop-ups. I don’t put pressure on myself.
And that’s one of the pros of being the boss. The cons being the responsibility, the graft…
And the salaries! But there’s pros and cons to everything. Some people would hate not being able to take the six months maternity leave and put ooo on their email. But I don’t see it like that. I think of myself as very lucky.
WFH is the real clincher. But you were WFH and using social media as an advertising platform long before the pandemic forced everybody online.
Absolutely. I love how flexible I can be. I can literally be anywhere and still get things done. We have a shoot happening at the moment out in Cape Town and I’m sitting here with VIP! When you have good people in place everything can run smoothly.
How big is the team now?
We are still relatively small. There are 5 full-time staff and then web and advertising and maybe 15 for a pop up shop that lasts three or four months. At anyone time we could have 30/40 people on the books. We also have a production manager who goes and checks out our factories a couple of times a year.
What are the factories like?
They are way more advanced than you’d probably imagine, really clean and very automated. Some of the machines nowadays use a pint of water to wash jeans whereas years ago it was gallons and gallons. Nearly everything is made sustainably now and if not, that’s what you’re working towards. Most of our factories are in Turkey, Portugal as well. Out footwear and a lot of our cotton t-shirts are in Portugal. Most of our denim is in Turkey in Istanbul and Izmir. Brian and I go and visit twice a year.
With oil prices through the roof, and inflation rising rapidly, where does that leave you Poco? Because shipping and delivery is massive for you guys.
Shipping is huge. Massive. If something cost €10,000 in the past, it now costs you €30,000. It’s insane money. China used to the place to go to for packaging but now China is one of the most expensive places now to get packaging, labels and stickers. But not only is shipping expensive but you can’t even get a container now, it’s gone crazy. It is a concern for sure.
No wonder there’s be no maternity leave! All that in your head when you’re trying to get a bottle into Billy!
Exactly [laughs]…luckily I have Brian for all the headaches.
We would imagine the pandemic was good for a predominantly online business like yours, but the economic impact of war has new challenges.
Getting deliveries in during the pandemic was challenging because everyone suddenly who wasn’t online, wanted to be. And the all the bigger companies were swooping in and taking over the factories and suddenly we were a smaller fish in a massive pond. The only way around it was to up our quantities and buy more fabric.
Which leaves you exposed…
Totally. And the market changed quickly too. All of a sudden people weren’t buying denim and wanted lounge wear. So we reacted as quickly as we could, and I think we did a good job with our cotton, our lounger and our t-shirts, and joggers. You had to react fast if you wanted to stay afloat.
It must have felt good being in a position to run a fundraiser for the Irish Red Cross’ Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
You just feel so helpless, don’t you? Even today doing this shoot you’re feeling, should I even be doing it? The fundraiser was the least we could do. We allocated a certain amount of pieces on her the website to the appeal with all proceeds going to the Irish Red Cross. I thought it would take a couple to sell but within two hours all the sizes went, bar very few. The final amount raised was €36,500. People were so responsive and so quick and so generous. Which Irish people are anyway.
It was your 10th wedding anniversary last year and to mark it you and Brian renewed your wedding vows. A lot has happened in those ten years. You’re now parents and business partners. Did the vows have a different feel?
They did and I was very emotional! It was all a surprise and I got such a shock when we walked into the church. For the first time I was lost for words!
He posted a very gushy message on Instagram saying he was lucky to have you, that you were the better half of him, and he thanked you for loving him. Cute!
At least he knows how lucky he is [laughs]! As he says himself, he’s punching!
We weren’t in your house today but we were before and we know it’s spotless. You like tidiness and structure, is it how you best function?
A friend of mine came around recently and was like, ‘Oh, I’m glad to see you’re normal and that’s it’s not spotless!’ When I do my makeup and clothes in the morning I am very all over the place and I pull everything out and I mightn’t put them back for a couple of days. But my living areas I will want perfect, especially if people are coming over.
We’re still thinking about your messy dressing room! Would you ever have a floordrobe?!
Yeah, I would! Maybe for a day! I have one wardrobe full of my Lucy Nagle pieces and all my Poco sweatshirts – it’s embarrassing. Everything is just sort of flung in. I keep promising to get to it.
We expected a spring capsule collection section in your wardrobe, Pippa! And vacuum packed clothes bags zipped locked and loaded in the attic!
Not yet! But now that you’ve said it, I will [laughs]! When I do get to the clear-out, I go to bed feeling lighter and more at ease!
Brian is tidy too, isn’t he?
He is. Since we moved in here he’s been very tidy and that’s been four years. Maybe it’s because this is our dream home.
Okay, before you go give us your wardrobe staples you reach to each day.
My easy usuals are a pair of jeans. I might wear an oversized white shirt, with a trench coat or one of our oversized t-shirts. I like layering pieces and a nice cashmere cardigan. My style is very easy and comfortable, but I still like to be sharp. I wear a lot of creams, minks, greys, beiges and I just think they mix so much better into your wardrobe and that you get more wear out of them. I recently did a really bold pink neon jogger, with Lucy Nagle, so I do like colour but I’m just not mad on pattern. I no longer waste €30 or €40 on a pattern top from Zara because I just don’t get enough wear out of them. If you only wear something once, no matter if it’s €10 or €100, it’s too expensive.
Shot on location at The K Club hotel, Co. Kildare, kclub.ie