I was born in County Kerry, Ireland as the second oldest of twelve children. Growing up on a farm meant there were few store-bought items in our home. I was born into a working world, learning to knit at my mother’s knee when I was just three.


After moving to San Francisco in 1990, I began doing what I did best – creating hand-loomed knitwear in my tiny apartment. I sold my creations to local boutiques and within a year was discovered by Barneys. My knitwear line grew into a full collection that led me to open my first retail store on Claude Lane in the city’s Union Square neighborhood. My sister Teresa runs this store to this day. There are now 15 Margaret O’Leary boutiques across the United States.


I design for myself and for my friends, finding constant inspiration from the feedback I get from those who live in our clothing. I work with cashmere because it creates a sensation of inner warmth as well as physical comfort. 

For inspiration I travel far and wide, shopping vintage stores from Clignancourt, Paris to the Alameda flea market. I find the past can inspire the future, if you can absorb the inspiration. I have journeyed a long way from my roots in rural Ireland but I draw on my experiences every day and I am grateful for every moment.