My Money: Natalie B Coleman ‘My biggest financial mistake was not buying a property earlier in my life’

Fashion Designer Natalie B Coleman. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Natalie B Coleman

Monaghan-born fashion designer Natalie B Coleman has dressed everyone from Laura Whitmore and Lily Collins to Mary J Blige, Charlene McKenna and some of the Derry Girls. Coleman, who is also a fashion design lecturer at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, won the Tatler Irish Designer, Woman of the Year, and the Irish Fashion Designer of the Year awards in 2019.

The National Gallery of Ireland commissioned an accessory collection from Coleman to complement an exhibition it opened this month of Lavinia Fontana, the 16th-century Italian painter who is widely considered the first woman in Western art history to become a professional artist.

Coleman, whose next collection will be launched next year, lives outside Carrickmacross with her two children Eden (7) and Odin (5).

What did you learn about money while you were growing up?

Not very much. I took extra classes in economics, but more out of defiance – because it was in the boys’ school and wasn’t offered to us female students rather than applying myself to the course.

I always had after-school jobs from a young age, like delivering leaflets, working in a local store at the weekends, babysitting, and picking potatoes.

But (the money) was very much gone as soon as I got it: I had a kind of ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ philosophy and almost didn’t value money because I was so badly educated about finance and investment and thinking long-term.

There is a huge gap in financial literacy between the genders, especially in education, which I think is being addressed more now.

What has your career in fashion taught you about money?

For me, (fashion) was always about the result, and I had a kind of ‘whatever it takes’ approach to getting there.

But, over time, I have learned to be more mindful and appreciative of my own time and my own value.

When were you most broke?

When I was a student and left home for the first time.

Has the energy crisis prompted you to make any changes to your lifestyle?

I try not to use the dryer as much. I don’t drive (yet), so things have not changed so much for me.

What’s the most expensive place you’ve ever visited?

I think Dublin now is one of the most expensive places! I worked in Iceland years ago and it was pretty dear but apparently it is now much more manageable compared to Ireland now.

Do you still carry cash?

Very rarely. I use Revolut.

What was your worst-ever job?

Washing dishes in a restaurant in Galway. Though the advantage was getting all the food I wanted.

What was your biggest ever financial mistake?

Not buying property earlier is up there.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I’m a mix of both. Having kids has changed things – before that I was definitely a spender.

Do you have a pension?

Yes, through my job as a lecturer at NCAD.

What was the last thing you bought online?

A Noah Verrier print of a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. I bought it for myself for Valentine’s Day!

What three things would you not be able to do without if you had to tighten your belt?

Coffee, holidays with my kids, and new books.

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