Designing your own destiny

Designing your own destiny


Entrepreneur, designer, activist, and communications superstar Sonya Lennon reflects on a series of mishaps in the aftermath of her Leaving Certificate which taught her escaping the conventional route can set you on the right path, along with the right mix of education and training.


Leaving Cert mishaps

In the 1980s, while on course to study art in the National College of Art & Design after her leaving cert, a freak fire at her school Loreto on the Green destroyed her entire art portfolio. Not one to focus on life’s negatives, Sonya looked at her options.

“One thing was for sure, it was too late to recreate my portfolio.” She tells us. “I filled out my CAO application even though I knew deep down that studying for a degree wasn’t the right path for me. I was offered Arts in University College Dublin but it really wasn’t what I wanted.”


Exploring passions with Further Education and Training

Sonya went with her gut feeling and opted instead for a Post Leaving Cert (PLC) course in Communications in Coláiste Dhúlaigh. It was here she says that she found her superpower - communications.

In order to hone her skills further, Sonya applied for a course in the Institute of Art & Design in Dún Laoghaire, hoping to specialise in TV and Film. However, misfortune - or fate – stood in her way once again as a clerical error with her application form meant she wasn’t accepted.

“I took that year and moved to France. I initially worked teaching English as a foreign language but I soon ended up working in fashion stores and I became infatuated.”

Sonya returned to Ireland and combined her two passions, fashion and communications, studying a Public Relations course in Rathmines College of Further Education with the goal of specialising in fashion PR.


The rest is herstory!

From there Sonya went on to work as a fashion editor at D-Side magazine and as a stylist for TV, film and on international campaigns, as well as designing for high-end fashion lines.

In 2008 she became the face of RTÉ’S Off the Rails which she says gave her the confidence to found the charity Dress for Success Dublin, an organisation promoting gender, and launch her own highly successful clothing line with long term friend and business partner Brendan Courtney.

“In order to find your dream career, you need to ask yourself three simple but serious questions: Is this my passion? Is it financially viable? Am I good at it? If the answer to all three is ‘yes’ then you know you are on the right path.”


Find your path with further education and training, whatever your passion there is a course for you on


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