Petria Lenehan launched her namesake women’s wear brand in 2015. Now living in upstate New York, Petria references her Irish heritage to create a beautifully designed and crafted collection of clothing and accessories. I first encountered Petria’s designs in her lovely Dublin shop, Dolls. A subsequent move to New York meant Petria closing her shop (her sister’s neighboring delicious cafe, Bibi’s, expanded as a result) and selling her brand Petria Lenehan mainly online. She recently participated in Field + Supply and is planning some pop-ups for the coming year.
Where do you source & make your clothes and accessories? Fabrics like Donegal tweed, Irish linen and Scottish cashmere are sourced from Ireland and Britain and the collection is produced in Ireland and NYC.
What are your best sellers? Irish tweed coats, linen dungarees and Scottish cashmere accessories.
What are the challenges selling online compared to a physical store? While selling online opens the business up to a worldwide and far reaching audience, I fully understand the importance for the consumer to try on and come into direct contact with the product. With so many independent brands online there is a lot of competition. Although this can be positively challenging, it can also be difficult to break through the noise on social media and maintain a strong enough presence in the market.
What are the advantages? There is great freedom in selling online and not having to be in one place. The overheads are significantly lower and there is less risk.
Petria Lenehan portrait by Rich Gilligan
Who inspires you? Margaret Howell.
What inspires you? Nature, Art, the Irish landscape, NYC.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. was a shopkeeper! I ran a shop in Dublin for 8 years selling women’s clothing.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? In running a small business, you are responsible for everything that goes on and have to quickly learn how to react to the inevitable and unforseeable obstacles and mishaps in a calm and constructive way.
What task do you like to delegate? Tax returns.
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? Always remember why you started the business and what drives you.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? You will not please everyone. Figure out who your customer is and look after that customer.
Which famous person would you like to visit your shop? Ilse Crawford.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? An interior designer.
What is your perfect day off? A long walk and cooking dinner with family and friends.
Your favorite coffee shop or restaurant? Bibi’s café run by my sister in Dublin.
I wish I could… build up my design business and open a brick and mortar shop selling my own brand of clothing for women, men and kids alongside interiors.
On the Future of Retail
“I think that shops will become more specialized as people seek out a more unique experience when they go shopping that they can’t experience online. I hope to see shops and designers/brands working closely together to create a more mutually beneficial relationship.”
Photography courtesy ©Rich Gilligan