By Marisa Reidy
SHE’S probably best known as the hugely successful pop star who made up one fifth of former chart- topping group, The Saturdays, but Tipperary native Una Healy has proven that there’s a whole lot more to her impressive CV than just pop!
Just last month, the budding entrepreneur launched her very own show collection, Una Healy Original, to great fanfare – an experience which she says has been ‘a dream come true.’
Una told Connect that the collection has been in the pipeline for over a year now and says it feels surreal to finally see her creations on the shelves of some of Ireland’s leading footwear stores.
“I’m absolutely delighted to finally see this become a reality”, Una told Connect. “It’s so exciting to see the collection come together and see it being received so well already. To be honest it’s a dream come true for me.”
The self-confessed shoe fanatic explained that the concept first got bandied about over a year ago, when family friends first put the idea to her.
“It kind of all started out when family friends in Monaghan, who own a shoe shop, were talking to someone else who had designed shoes and thought it would be a great idea for me to create my own collection,” she explained. “I loved the idea and we began looking into it, but it’s definitely a year or more since we had our first meeting about it.”
But even with all her drive and enthusiasm for this exciting project, Una says she still questioned whether or not this dream of hers would ever become a reality…
“Even though we were discussing things and talking seriously about the collection, I never imagined it would actually happen, so to see the collection come together is so exciting for me. It’s definitely scary seeing my face and photos of the collection everywhere,” she joked “but it’s so exciting and the support so far has been wonderful.”
The collection itself features over 100 different styles, Una explained, and reflects the styles and trends she herself likes. She is very hands on with the design aspect of the collection, and says there’s something to suit everyone.
“The collection is full of everything I would wear myself and I would have a huge part to play in the design,” she said. “We discuss current trends and the collection reflects the styles I’m into and what’s fashionable at the moment. There’s everything from flats to mid heels to high heels in a range of colours and styles, with over 100 styles altogether, so there’s a huge choice.”
Despite throwing herself into the new collection, Una says that music still remains a huge passion of hers and explains that despite no longer being part of a hugely successful pop group, she is currently embracing life as a solo artist.
While she misses being part of the group – which split in 2014 – and the fun times with her fellow band mates, she says she loves being able to express her own style of music in her solo work.
“The Saturdays was a huge part of my career for sure and I do sometimes get nostalgic and miss the company of the girls, but there comes a time when you have to move on,” Una said. “I’m really lucky to still be writing and performing and it allows me to show something different and the style of music that I love. In a way it’s like starting all over again.”
Having released her brand-new single entitled ‘Never See Me Cry’ in March – the first release from an EP due later in the year – Una is currently gearing up for a solo tour, which incidentally kicks off with a show in Killarney’s INEC on June 16th.
“I love the INEC, it’s a great hub for music so the gig will be a lot more stripped back. It will have more of a folk and country feel to it,” she says – rather unsurprisingly, given that her famous uncle is none other that renowned country star, Declan Nerney.
“It’s all about enjoying the experience and enjoying what I do. I always do my best to put everything into the gig and give people the show they deserve. I also love hearing feedback from people who say they really enjoyed a show and speaking about what my songs mean to them, so that’s really how I measure my success. The Killarney show will be a mix of my own original music and some covers.”
Una is of course now based in Northampton where her rugby-star husband Ben Foden is contracted – but despite her hubby’s exploits on the field for the English, Una says she is – and will forever be – Munster by heart.
“It doesn’t matter if Munster are playing Northampton, I’ll always shout for Munster and he knows that,” Una joked, admitting that she loves to get to home matches at Thomond Park as often as she can.
Una’s pride and joy, of course, are her two small children – six year old Aoife Belle and Tadhg (3), who are also regular visitors to Ireland. And with Irish names like those, how could they not be reminded of their Irish roots?
“I go back quite a lot with the kids with work and gigs and it’s important for me that they know they are half Irish and where they come from,” she said. “We were actually back home in Ireland at Easter and we had a lovely time.”
Una credits her husband Ben with helping support her career, saying that he is very much a hands-on dad, which allows her to fulfil her career dreams.
“We absolutely share the responsibility 50/50 and for both of us being a parent is our number one job,” she said. “The children are without doubt my number one achievement.”
So how is Aoife Belle taking to mommy’s new shoe collection – every young girl’s dream, surely?
“She reminds me so much of me sometimes,” Una jokes. “Like all little girls, she loves trying on the high heels over her own shoes and particularly likes anything that’s pink and sparkly of course. She’s delighted with the collection of course.”
Una’s new shoe collection is currently available online @unahealyoriginal.com and at leading footwear stores across the country and she says she is hugely excited about the buzz that it has already created – and what lies in store!!
“The shoes are currently available in most stores across the country and I honestly have been thrilled with the feedback and support the collection has been getting,” she said. “It’s allowing me to relive my youth in a way and that’s great.”