I hope when I look back on my career that I can say I was inspired by positive and creative people. On that list will be Jacqueline Honor- Sullivan, owner of the The White Door, which now has two stores in Dunleer Co. Louth and Exchequer Street, Dublin 2. From a career in banking, Jacqueline was on the quest to fulfill a dream of opening her own retail store and with two successful stand alone concept stores under her belt, she’s on the way to retail domination.
Stepping into a white washed, and sophisticated office above the Dublin store, Jacqueline’s stamp is all over her working environnment where she has created a calm but busy office and accompanied by right hand lady Tara O’Brien and a dedicated team downstairs in the store, it’s refreshing to see an owner so involved in the running of their own business and determined to grow it through nourishing its concept, adding to it and developing a well oiled retail machine.
“My first premises was in Dunleer, a nice village, friendly and accessible from the M1. It ticked all the boxes”, Jacqueline tells me over a cup of tea. But the success of the store as it is now was no easy feat for it’s owner. “Suppliers said no, I had to convince people it would attract business. I talked to Avoca, who gave me the first break”. Following the association with brand Avoca, within ten months, the brand base grew with labels such as Noa Noa and Nougat secured. So the gamble paid off as the Dunleer store now spans 3,500 sqaure feet, with a loyal customer base.
The White Door is developing not only as a store but as a brand name. When Jacqueline got hold of the premises, she sat in it one evening with a friend with plastic cups and a bottle of champagne, the product of which was the catchy name. Running behind the store is the White river which aptly provided the ultimate brand name which hopes to be synonomous with expansion while staying true to its conceptual essence. So with the store nicely established, Jacqueline wanted reach and what better way than to take the concept online. And to top that, in 2009 Jacqueline wanted in on the cosmetics market. “I trailed Poland, China, Australia and the US looking at mid-price range products”, explains Jacqueline, and thankfully finding a good quality product that allowed her to be 100% involved, became tangible in her own cosmetics range, Zorina. The collection hits all the angles you need from a cosmetics range and has made my make up bag pretty happy since I got my hands on some gloss and eye shadows that more than compete with higher priced brands.
But one of the phenomenons of The White Door that has got the Irish fashion glitterati chatting is that of Hello Skinny jeans. “In 2007, I was at Coiterie New York (NYC’s biggest retail trade show) and at a coffee stand. A tall woman was standing nearby and I looked at her jeans. I complimented her on them and asked what they were. The woman replied “they’re mine!” and from there we became friends”. So this chance meeting with Catherine Hart, developer of Hello Skinny jeans has led Jacqueline to not only stock them in store, she also owns the European distribution rights. As an owner of a pair of said jeans, I whole heartedly can say no other jeans I own fit like them, feel like them or look like them when on. The word skinny is not misused her. Honestly, I went down two inches in size due to the gorgeous fit, but they give the sexiest shape to my jogger legs.
But look, it’s not just the brands, its the support network, the staff, the media coverage and determination of someone who clearly has the intrinsic resolve to follow her heart. How can I not be inspired.
With sincere thanks to Jacqueline at the White Door for the fascinating insight into her dream.