Pretty Bird: Irish fashion range for women in farming industry
Grace Roche was frustrated with not getting overalls and boots that fitted her properly
Grace Roche : owner of Pretty Things farm clothing for women. Photograph: Seán Dunne
Attitudes towards women in farming have evolved, according to a woman who considers herself as having a “slash career”.
Grace Roche, who lives on a 110-acre farm in Kylemore Abbey, Co Galway, with her husband Ray, is a farmer trying to have it all – combining a full-time day job with a creative endeavour.
“I grew up on a suckler farm and have three brothers, so I have always been involved in farming and the lifestyle that accompanies it,” she says. “I married Ray, who is a dairy farmer, so for the past six to seven years I have been working with him on the dairy farm.”
Having grown tired of using her husband’s overalls on the farm, she decided to create a new Irish fashion and lifestyle range for women in the farming industry.
“Pretty Bird is the name of my brainchild, which in many ways was born out of frustration for never being able to get overalls and boots to fit me properly. The role of women in farming has evolved, we are not just the mothers and wives of farmers but we are the farmers too, so the range was badly needed in Ireland. ”
Ms Roche identifies as she says as a woman with a “slash career” – a phrase which has been coined by creative millennials.Her day job is with Momentum Consulting. “I work as the head of EU projects which has helped me hone my business skills, particularly in the last year, when I worked on developing learning materials for entrepreneurs all across Europe. I suppose myself and my husband both fit into this new term as we both have full-time jobs, but the farm isn’t a part-time job. We also work on that full-time before and after the day job.”
The young couple, who joined the many exhibitors at this year’s National Ploughing Championships, acknowledged the difficulties in rural Ireland for farmers trying to earn a living from the farm.
“We have been lucky that the business has been going from strength to strength, and it seems to be the right fit for many women in Ireland,” says Ms Roche. “We are not just in the background anymore, many women run their own farms and businesses and have a career. It’s not like it was 60 years ago. The future is bright for women interested in farming in Ireland.”