First Encounters: Naoise McNally and Susan Gallagher
‘We have a way of figuring things out’
Susan Gallagher and Naoise McNally of One Fab Day. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Susan Gallagher is a software engineer who started wedding website One Fab Day with Naoise McNally soon after getting married in 2009. She worked in IBM, and studied interior architecture before becoming a web developer. She lives in Kilmainham, Dublin, with her husband, Adam Bermingham
I knew [Naoise’s husband] Ronan through Adam, who I’d met in 2004 when we were both working in IBM. A year later, Ronan started going out with Naoise. I hadn’t met her, then we went to a wedding, and were at the friends’ table. We were chatting to each other for the night and got on really well. Naoise’s great fun, able to talk to anybody.
Later, she asked me to help her out with some work. I’d gone freelance: I wanted to do something more creative, so did a degree in interior architecture at night while I was still in IBM. The recession hit and there was no hope of a job in that field. I still left IBM, figured I’d always find a way to do something. Then Naoise gave me a job taking photographs of houses, later asked me to work on a web project, and also to do Ronan’s website. That was the first real web design project I did and I really liked it.
Naoise was the one who encouraged me. She’d be telling people “Susan’s a great web designer” while I was going, “what are you doing?” She was braver than I was back then. I’m more like her now, it’s rubbed off on me. When she thinks someone’s good at something, she really pushes them.
I got everyone involved in my wedding in 2009 in Cloghan Castle. I got my dad – who’d never made a cake before – to make one. My mum decorated the place with flowers. I don’t like traditional things – I think I get that from my mum, she got married in a blue dress. Weddings nowadays reflect people’s lives, they’re more individual.
It was around this time we got the idea of a wedding blog. Naoise and I never took a conscious decision to set up a company. We were two self-employed people who’d do some projects together, a friend you could discuss problems with, like, what do you do when someone’s not paying you. So it wasn’t a big jump to set up One Fab Day. Naoise said, let’s give it a go and we took the plunge.
Naoise’s wedding was just a few months after her father died and I don’t think she realised how tough it would be for her until afterwards. She threw herself into it, she’s such a strong person.
We both would like to have families some day; we’ve talked about what we’d do when that happens, but we’ll figure that out when we get there. It’s weird, we have a way of figuring things out, I can’t explain it. We never fight even though we’re both strong-headed.
For fun, Naoise and I love shopping together and because of our age, we end up at a lot of weddings.
Naoise McNally is co-founder of online wedding magazine One Fab Day. After studying business and Russian in TCD, she worked for Daft, then started non-profit company Ireland Involved. One Fab Day now employs eight people and gets 200,000 hits a month from Ireland and abroad. She and her husband Ronan Lyons live near the Phoenix Park in Dublin
Susan and I met at a wedding in 2006. I knew about Susan because her boyfriend Adam and mine, Ronan, were friends from school. We really began to become friends ourselves after I asked Susan to take photographs of houses for Daft, where I was working at the time. Then I started a non-profit and asked Susan to help on web development. From that, she started her own web development company.
We ended up working together a lot and it was the basis of a really good friendship: when you’re a freelance, it can be quite lonely. It was bonding to be able to support each other. She was getting married to Adam in December 2009 and I’d just got engaged, so I was asking her a lot about wedding planning.
She got married in Cloghan Castle outside Loughrea – it was a really cool winter wedding. We’d decided just before her wedding that we’d launch a wedding blog for a bit of fun. Her wedding was so different, but she had to find everything herself. We said, do you know what, we can’t be the only people here who don’t want a traditional wedding with the meringue dress. From November 2011, we decided to work on the website full-time. It was a magazine more than a blog, with lots of original ideas, impartial information and advice.
We knew we could trust each other. We’re really good friends but we have our own separate friends. It’s like a marriage, you have to have your own thing. We go shopping together quite often; I can walk around a shop and pick an entire outfit for Susan, I know her really well, and I’d put money on her being happy with my choice.
Susan and I are both ambitious. We’ve just been accepted on the DCU Ryan Academy Female Propellor Programme, an entrepreneurship programme for women running businesses. The idea is that at the end you’re investor-ready, know how to pitch.
My father died two years ago, a few months before my wedding, and there was a lot of turmoil; it was very emotional, very stressful and Susan was a huge support. And it’s tough starting a business: there’d be times when Susan would be upset and I’d be saying, come on, we’re going to do it – and vice versa. It never happened that we’d both be down. You need someone to be a cheerleader for you. When we got the Ryan Academy thing we went
for a nice lunch – our celebration was to walk around Brown Thomas, dreaming of the things we’d love to be able to afford