A chat with Entrepreneur and Interior Designer, Hannah McCarthy

Inspiring Females

We love celebrating females in the entrepreneurial space. This month we chat to Hannah McCarthy. Hannah is an Interior Designer and the Founder of the Dockyard Collective, which is a creative space that’s home to a collection of local brands, including Kaali.

Read on to see what Hannah has to say about her entrepreneurial journey, her inspiration for the Dockyard Collective and of course, an interior design tip or two.


The Dockyard Collective is an amazing new space in Simon’s Town – what inspired you to launch this concept store?

The location and space of Dockyard Collective with its beautiful views over False Bay inspired me to turn this much loved space into a designer multi-sensory shopping experience.

Our vision is to bring a mix of South African designer products, interiors and fashion lines; all carefully curated to appeal to a specific target audience. In addition, offer experimental elements such as our new Social Café and art exhibition space, enhancing the appeal to shoppers seeking a particular lifestyle.
The serenity of the space brings about a unique type of clientele; attracting the most interesting people. Definitely a place for the creative minds.

Why Simon’s Town?

Simon’s Town is one of the most delightful coastal towns in Cape Town, popular to overseas visitors and locals. Situated just 40km outside of the city en route to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Simon’s Town’s historical mile, St. George’s Street, has 21 buildings over 150 years old and includes a local museum, the navy museum, a toy museum and the Church of St Francis which is said to be the oldest Anglican Church in the country.

Simon’s Town receives the highest number of foreign and local visitors on a single day vs. any other local destination in Cape Town and the only town en route to Cape Point where tour operators and tourist buses stop for shopping and food. In 2016 Cape Point Nature Reserve recorded a remarkable achievement, attracting 1 million visitors through its gates, mostly all who have passed through Simon’s Town.
There is definitely a high focus on Simon’s Town as a tourist destination and it's fast developing.

What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?

The entrepreneur community has a certain energy. Being an entrepreneur, I am constantly rediscovering myself and my passion for what I'm pursuing, my strength in tough situations and my resilience when there's an obstacle. There is always something that I can do to improve.

The best part about being an entrepreneur is the ability to create something from nothing. It gives me the motivation and discipline to be the hardest-working version of myself and create my own definition of success, contributing to something larger than myself.

What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?

I was the founder of Women’s Golf Middle East based in Dubai, which is now a very vibrant and cosmopolitan city, but at the time (in 2008) when WGME was launched, it was still quite a male dominant culture.
The challenge was to build a new business as a western woman, dealing mainly with Arabic businessmen and at the same time honouring and respecting the Arab culture, values and traditions. It took two years for me to earn the respect and recognition for Women’s Golf Middle East to be part of the major golfing events in Dubai, hosting qualifying rounds for the Omega European Ladies Masters and Emirates Airline Invitational, hosted by Abdullah Al Naboodah.

Self-doubt creeps into every entrepreneur’s mind every so often. What’s your advice for overcoming this?

Doubts, as a whole, are healthy as an entrepreneur. They keep you on your toes and they keep you honest. 

Our goals are what drive us to challenge our own status quo and risk failure. In the bigger picture, things can get overwhelming and that's when doubt creeps up. My mantra when this happens is “Go back to the basics”, realign your focus and goals until you feel confident again. Become quiet, eat well, sleep well and exercise.

You’re an Interior Designer by trade – what’s your go-to item to spruce up a room?

Definitely rugs. Area rugs are the perfect way to mask less-than-perfect flooring and take control of the warmth factor in any room. Rugs can also add depth; your eye will naturally follow the color or pattern to the end. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to rugs, but much like window treatments they can serve as a focal point in a room, or as a soft background feature, meant to let other elements shine.

What inspires your creativity? 

For me, design is storytelling. I bring the vision of a project to life by creating an evocative story through color, textures, patterns, and forms that are full of beauty, adventure and soul.
Each project is a unique exploration of curiosity and experimentation. Intuition and psychology can play a large part in the design process. Finding the harmony in many different perspectives and influences is key to a successful project. Clients are my biggest muse. I always opt for a mix of something old and something new.

Drink of choice?

Wine is my favourite drink of choice. Wine is such a sophisticated drink with so much that goes into the making of wine, which is an art in itself. Living in Cape Town, it is such a big part of the social culture we get to enjoy here.

Dream holiday destination?

I've been fortunate to travel to quite a few amazing cities around the world during my 14 years living in Dubai. Believe it or not, Italy! It has always been my dream holiday destination and I have never had the chance to travel to Italy. I would love to take my time and do a road trip through the country and experience every element of the culture, architecture and savour the culinary delights of the region.

Favourite spot in Cape Town?

I love the Piano Bar in De Waterkant, Cape Town. It's a New York inspired quaint bar with live piano music, creative cocktails, tapas and a fireplace. It makes me feel like I am somewhere outside of the country.

A bit more about Hannah...

Hannah was born and raised in Namibia. After completing her studies she worked for the Delegation of the European Union in Namibia as a project analyst before she relocated to Dubai with her family in 2000. Changing careers, she entered the fashion world and joined the Chalhoub Group working with fashion brands Chanel, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, TODDS, as well as a few other labels under the ownership of Ingi Chalhoub. After taking time off to recover from an accident, she became involved with the Dubai International Film Festival and worked in various capacities from Festival Hospitality, Programming and Festival management for 4 years.

In 2008, Hannah pursued and launched her own business in Dubai, called Women's Golf Middle East. She became an active figure in the golfing community, partnering with the Omega European Ladies Masters and Emirates Airline Invitational, hosted by Abdullah Al Naboodah. She was also the Golf Columnist for the Gulf Newspaper and wrote for various other publications. 

In 2013, she moved back to Cape Town to pursue her passion for Interior Design. The Dockyard came into being after she spent a year owning an interior store in Simon's Town and realised the potential for growing a business in this fast emerging town.


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