Margaret was born in County Kerry, Ireland and is the second oldest of twelve children which is “not uncommon for a good Irish family back then,” according to Margaret. Her passion for knitwear was nurtured by her mother, Rita, almost before Margaret uttered her first word. In those days it was customary for all knits to be produced by the family and it was rare for an Irish farm family to buy store bought knitwear.
After immigrating to San Francisco in 1990, Margaret created hand-loomed
knitwear in her tiny apartment and began selling her creations to local
boutiques. Within a year she was discovered by Barneys and the orders
multiplied. The knitwear line grew into a full collection which led Margaret to
open her first retail store at San Francisco’s Claude Lane. There are now eight
Margaret O’Leary boutiques up and down the West Coast.
Margaret’s collections evolve from a unique design sensibility that marries luxury with the effortless chic found in California. Margaret personally oversees the creation of her knits and sports wear, from initial design, selection of the finest yarns and cashmere, and production, to ensure the quality for which she is known.
For inspiration Margaret travels far and wide, shopping vintage stores from Cligancourt Paris to the Alameda flea markets. “The past can inspire the future, if you know how to absorb the inspiration,” says Margaret. In addition to designing her own collections, Margaret leads buying trips from Paris to Istanbul to find the great shoes, shirts, jeans and accessories that complement her collections in her boutiques. Margaret O'Leary and husband, Bill, live just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Mill Valley, California with their three sons, Jack, Chaz and Dan.