2019 has been an exciting year for us here in McElhinneys - as always there are highs and lows, but we journey on with your help, and we hope for another successful year as we begin a new decade into 2020! Our 'Top 10 Moments' Blog has become a real highlight for us to reflect on our favourite memories throughout the year, so without further ado, here are our Top 10 Magical Moments of 2019.
Doing What We Do Best, Fashion Events
2019 has been the year of high-fashion for McElhinneys, with countless events, catwalks, fashion shows, TV appearances and more. A highlight for us was the launch of our monthly 'Feel for Fashion' event, which was a meetup we organised each month, which each month focusing on a different theme or topic. We covered topics from Styling your Shape, to Using Colour with Confidence, to finding the Perfect Denim Fit and were so excited to share our collection and the expertise in store. We also took part in fashion shows, including two events with popular Irish Blogger, Lisa's Lust List, and had a couple TV appearances including Ireland AM with stylist Mandy Catwalk.
L-R: Lisa's Lust List Live (Image Credit Frank McGrath Photography) | September Feel for Fashion - Days in Denim Masterclass | Statement Sleeves on Ireland AM with Mandy Catwalk
Supporting Emerging Talent & Designers
We were delighted this year to lend our support to local, emerging talent, young designers and local small companies to help give them a platform for their work. Helen Murray is a Digital Print and Womenswear Designer based in the North West of Ireland. A recent graduate of the BA Fashion with Promotion course at LYIT, Helen was the winner of the McElhinneys Fashion Award 2019 at the DEFINE Donegal Irish Fashion Design Showcase, and part of her prize was her designs being showcased in our front window.
Picture Credit - Rachel McLaughlin, Donegal Woman. Pictured: John Andy Bonner, Sharon Maxwell, Dana McMahon, Helen Murray, Nollaig Crombie and Crona Connolly at Define Donegal in Convoy Woollen Mills
Another highlight this year was in May this year, we were delighted to join forces with the Fashion & Textile Design Centre (FTDC) in Derry to bring the first North West Designer Expo to McElhinneys. Nine local designers, with products ranging from contemporary Irish Linen, hand woven Irish tweed, printed scarves and dresses, millinery to high fashion and sportswear. We are incredibly lucky to have such a wealth of talent here in the North West, and we want to ensure the North West remains a stronghold of talent by giving these companies a platform.
Our Very Own Bubbles & Brunch Workshop
We wanted to bring a day of glamour to the ladies of the North West, so we planned the most fabulous day we could manage. Bringing together some of our favourite personalities, we welcomed Lisa McGowan, aka Lisa's Lust List as our Fashion Host, makeup artist LMD for a beauty demonstration, and Dr Roisin Fitzgerald for a live cosmetic treatment demonstration - and together we created our very own Bubbles & Brunch Workshop. These amazing hosts entertained with 100's of ladies who gathered in Lough Eske Castle, coupled with plenty of bubbles, an unbelievable goodie bag and our own pop up shop, it was a definite highlight of our year!
L-R: Lisa McGowan & Amanda McDermott | Louise McDonnell on Stage | Dr Roisin Fitzgerald
Raising Funds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it is something we mark in our calendars every year here in McElhinneys and 2019 was no exception. This October we wanted to raise vital funds in aid of Donegal Hospice, who tirelessly help those in need of Palliative Care in the North West of Ireland.
This year we raised funds through a number of events, including a Staff Pink Uniform Day, our Annual 'Think Pink' Afternoon Tea and our Makeup Mayhem Marathon - which was a new event which saw local Makeup Artists give up their time to do all day makeovers in our Beauty Hall in exchange for a donation. We also raise awareness every year through our Breast Cancer Awareness Ambassador, and this year that was Mary Gill. Mary allowed us to share her story through video, and was the guest speaker at our Afternoon Tea. In total for the month we were delighted to raise €2,942 for Donegal Hospice.
L-R: Mary Gill our Ambassador for 2019 | Isobel Doherty from Donegal Hospice pictured with McElhinneys Staff | Artists at work for our Makeup Mayhem Marathon
Our Most Exciting New Season to-date for our Autumn/Winter 2019 Launch
To celebrate the launch of the Autumn/Winter 2019 Season we decided to host our very own 'Fashion Festival' in store, with a jam packed weekend of events from a Styling Session with Rebecca Rose, to finding your perfect colours with 'Colour Me Beautiful' consultant Jacqueline Browne, spin to win in our Boutique, speed glamming in our Beauty Hall and even mini massages in our Footwear Department!
Local Bloggers & Influencers gathered in Ballybofey for McElhinneys AW19 Press Launch
The highlight for us, however, was the transformation of our warehouse in to the perfect location for our Press Launch ahead of the busy weekend. Showcasing the Seasons latest trends with a live catwalk show, we welcomed a group local bloggers and influencers to celebrate the launch with us and it was an excellent night!
McElhinneys Staff at the AW19 Fashion Festival Press Launch
Learning New Tips & Tricks with our Beauty Masterclass Events
We have had another amazing year of Masterclasses here in McElhinneys Beauty Hall from all of our best loved brands. We have had an amazing year with renowned artists and beauty experts travelling from all over the globe to showcase their talent in our Beauty Hall. We were delighted to welcome back some familiar faces, including Fortunato Benavoli who is the Lancôme National Makeup Artist and Alan Pan who gave a lighthearted and informative Masterclass for Estée Lauder. We also welcomed a new beauty arrival, Inglot Cosmetics, with a fantastic launch event and Masterclass with MUA Megan Doherty. Last but certainly not least, we were so excited to welcome MUA Louise McDonnell in store for a Note Cosmetics Masterclass - and what an amazing event that was!
L-R: Fortunato Benvoli for Lancôme | Inglot Cosmetics Launch | Note Cosmetics Masterclass with LMD
Celebrating Local History with Ballybofey's 400th Birthday Bash
2019 marked the 400th Anniversary of our town, and to celebrate there was a number of amazing historical events planned in our local area over the 27th-28th September. For our own celebrations we decided to host a Vintage Wedding Dress Display from a selection of our past McElhinneys Brides. Using social media to put the call out, the response to display dresses was absolutely overwhelming with 100's of brides offering their dress for the weekend. We created beautiful displays throughout the store and in the front window, with a bio for each bride detailing their experience in our Bridal Rooms along with each gorgeous dress. It was such a fabulous weekend!
Displays in store and in the front window of the Dresses from past McElhinneys Brides
Fashion for Familiar Faces
We were delighted to partner with some amazing high-profile celebrities, influencers and bloggers to help showcase our stunning fashion around Ireland and further afield this year. You might recognize a couple of familiar faces including... fellow Donegal native Majella O'Donnell, blogger Lisa McGowan, Ciara Doherty from Ireland AM, stylist Rebecca Rose, singer and jungle queen Nadine Coyle presenting at the BBC Children in Need, blogger Holly Carpenter & model Kate Grant presenting at the American Influencer Awards in Los Angeles - all of these amazing ladies dressed by McElhinneys!
2nd Annual Staff Sleepout for Simon
November 2nd marked the night of our 2nd Annual Staff Sleepout for Simon, and this year an even bigger group this year took to the streets to sleep out for one night. Our aim was to raise vital awareness and funds for the North West Simon Community, who help those in our community without a home, or at risk of losing their home. Sleeping outside the front of the store, the group of 40+ slept out from 8pm until 5am, and the fundraising continued in store for the entire month of November.
Some of the McElhinneys Staff who participated in the Sleepout for Simon
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Our favourite time of year without a doubt is the run up to Christmas every year. The atmosphere and buzz in the store and throughout the town adds to the excitement, and as always we kick off our celebrations with our iconic Window Unveiling, which took place this year on the 10th November. Despite the rain and wind, the crowds gathered on Main Street Ballybofey for this new Christmas Tradition, with live entertainment from Goats Don't Shave, a festive visit from Santa & Mrs Claus and of course to be the first to see the theme of the 2019 windows.
The theme of the 2019 windows, which was a closely guarded secret until the unveiling, was revealed as the ‘Jingle Jungle’. The theme of the windows this year was created to emphasize the importance of preserving natural habitats of animals, both at home and abroad, and ties in with our 'We Care' Sustainability Campaign which was launched in early 2019. The Jingle Jungle is a fusion of tropical wildlife mixed with the magic of Christmas to create a unique Universe to explore. Coloured lights illuminate the new world from the outside, with rainforest sounds filling the streets to bring the window to life in every sense. Within the window you can spy Monkeys, Gorillas, Orangutans, Elephants and more creatures enjoying the festivities of Christmas, plus a grand waterfall cascading down majestically amongst the foliage. Over 10,000 lights, 80 garlands and an abundance of festive greenery bring the Christmas windows to life.
So, you can see we've had an amazing 2019, and we cannot wait to see what is in store for us this 2020 as we begin a new decade, and edge ever closer to our 50th Anniversary in 2021. Thank you once again to everyone who continues to support us every year, and Happy New Year to all!.
- Niamh x
Visit us online: www.mcelhinneys.com