‘You are better off paying more for something that will last’

Me & My Money: Melissa Steele, founder, Loom Irish Linen

Melissa Steele, founder, Loom Irish Linen

Melissa Steele, founder, Loom Irish Linen


Are you a saver or a spender?
Probably a bit of both. If there is something I really need to save for then I can be quite diligent. I also like to have a buffer in my savings account for a rainy day. However, if I come across a “must-have” item that I really want to buy, then heart often outrules head on the spending front.

Do you shop around for better value?
In recent years I have tried to buy better, less often, particularly when it comes to fashion. When you look at pay-per-wear on certain items, you are almost always better off paying a bit more for something that will last you a long time, rather than a cheaper item that might only last for one season.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
When I left university I bought a one-way ticket to Australia. I can’t remember exactly how much it cost, but as a jobless graduate it seemed very extravagant at the time. The experiences it allowed me, however, were priceless.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
In January 2020, after an indulgent Christmas, my husband and I bought a Peloton exercise bike. Little did we know that we were about to be plunged into a pandemic, and a daily spin class created the outlet we needed to say healthy in both body and mind. The best money we’ve ever spent.

How did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
Online and locally. Since setting up my business, shopping locally has become increasingly important to me. I get great satisfaction from supporting other small businesses as I know there are real people behind them doing a happy dance every time you place an order.

Do you haggle over prices?
No, I get far too embarrassed.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?
I’m not sure whether it was as a result of Covid-19, but the arrival of our first baby in the middle of the second lockdown has certainly stopped me spending money on myself. It’s now all about Rosa. As it turns out, babies are very expensive indeed!

Do you invest in shares?
No, but I would like to. I might need to work on my saving first.

Cash or card?
Card. I can’t remember the last time I used a cash machine.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
A latte from my local cafe, Dooks Fine Foods – always good value if it sets you up for the day. I am loving the rise of cafe culture in rural Ireland, and we’re lucky to have such a good one on our doorstep.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Yes. I saved up for a deposit to buy my first home. It was a long and slow process but very rewarding in the end.

Have you ever lost money?
Setting up a business requires plenty of experiments at the start – some of which work and plenty that don’t. Ultimately, as long as the wins are bigger than the losses, I take it as a signal to keep going.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
One of my greatest passions in life is horse racing, so when it comes to that, I’m not opposed to a wager. I’m generally a €5 each-way kind of girl, but Phoenix of Spain winning the 2000 Guineas in 2019 afforded a fruitful visit to Kildare Village on the way home.

Is money important to you?
Money is important to me in so far as it drives me to succeed. Having a little bit of it can give you a lot of freedom in life. However, if this pandemic has taught me nothing else, it’s that the health and happiness of family and friends is most important of all.

How much money do you have on you now?
Just enough coins for the shopping trolley.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea