I was born in County Kerry, Ireland as the second oldest of 12 children. Growing up on a working farm in rural Ireland meant there were few store-bought items in our home, so I learned to knit on my mother’s knee when I was just three.
After moving to San Francisco in 1990, I began doing what I did best – creating hand-loomed knitwear in my tiny apartment. I sold my creations to local boutiques and within a year was discovered by Barneys!
My knitwear line grew into a full collection that led me to open my first retail store on Claude Lane in the city’s Union Square neighborhood. My sister Teresa runs the store to this day. There are now 14 Margaret O’Leary boutiques across the United States.
My collections evolve from a design sensibility that marries luxury with the effortless chic of my adopted home in Northern California. I design for myself and for my friends, finding constant inspiration from the feedback I get from those who live in our clothing. Cashmere is my go-to yarn because it creates a sensation of inner warmth, as well as physical comfort.
For inspiration I travel far and wide, shopping vintage stores from Clignancourt, Paris to the Alameda flea markets. I find the past can inspire the future, if you can absorb the inspiration. I have journeyed a long way from my roots in rural Ireland, but I draw on my experiences every day and I am grateful for every moment.
– Margaret O’Leary