RSVP Magazine

Businesswoman of the week: Gillian Farrelly of Halloween HQ


Gillian Farrelly is a very busy woman right now, as it is all system ago at the head of Halloween HQ – the one stop shop for all things scary.The first Halloween HQ store was opened in Cork in 2012 and since then, the brand has been growing from strength to strength.This year, 2016, there are almost 60 superstores across the UK & Ireland opened for the Halloween season.Each year Halloween seems to get bigger and better, and Halloween HQ’s aim is to make their store your one stop shop for all things scary.

Here, Gillian tells us what it’s like working for Halloween HQ at their busiest time of year…..
Tell us about your job
An opportunity arose within Halloween HQ in 2015 as the business was experiencing exceptional growth and needed someone to manage the recruitment side.   I came in to fulfil this role primarily which required recruiting up to 150 staff across all our stores nationwide (this was out of >1000 CV’s and 200 interviews!) Halloween HQ is a short term fast paced business so it’s a huge challenge to keep the staff level and quality appropriate to the pace of expansion in the business.  I am also involved in training the staff, implementing store policies and procedures and looking after the overall operation of the stores.  I also liaise with marketing and PR agencies, the buying team and Director, a bit of everything really!
So what do you do when it’s not Halloween time? 
I have 3 gorgeous children that keep me very busy in the meantime!   I also love to catch up with family and friends again after all the Halloween madness!  But when it came to a close last year I decided to do a post-grad in Innovation & Creativity for Entrepreneurship in UCD for 6 months, and then got stuck back into Halloween HQ in June.
Why do you think Halloween HQ has been so successful?
Halloween is just getting bigger and bigger every year.  Huge effort has gone into our social media advertising. Our Facebook page has grown to 45,000+ likes so our brand is growing from strength to strength. The Halloween HQ team are extremely motivated and work very hard to make a success of what they do.  We entered the UK market in 2015, which went well because the gap in the market was there – there was no other pop up Halloween shop like us.  We then merged with The Calendar Club’s Halloween business in 2016, to become the biggest pop-up Halloween operation there is outside the US with nearly 60 stores across the UK and Ireland.  This resulted in the company ‘Party HQ’ being formed.
Would you notice people getting more and more into Halloween each year?
Definitely!  There are so many Halloween events happening nationwide with house parties, school parties, Halloween trains, pumpkin picking, witches walks, scare in the park etc. all requiring costumes, makeup, decorations, everything we stock!  Decorating houses is a big part of it now, where it never was before, also Special FX makeup is so popular now.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
I worked in the bank for 15 years and although I enjoyed it, there was always constraints within the role and you have to work within quite a rigid structure.  With Halloween HQ, I enjoy the freedom of making decisions and being able to implement new ideas.  I love meeting new people all the time.  I love how every day is completely different you don’t know what challenge is going to be thrown at you.  I love the buzz of the shops – the queues out the door, and the fast paced ‘think on your feet’ environment.  When it comes close to Halloween it’s all hands on deck and you could be doing anything from hiring last minute staff to serving customers or ordering more stock!
What would you say is your biggest motivation?
My children.  They motivate me to experience the best that life has to offer.  I want the best for them.  I want to be a good role model for my children by showing them how you have to work hard and study hard to make a good life for yourself and let them see how rewarding that can be.
What is the most important lesson that you have learned in your career?
Don’t be afraid to try new things and do things differently! And also be adaptable to change.
What’s your next big goal?
I’d love to see Party HQ (the merged Halloween businesses) expand into the United States and across Europe. It will now incorporate not just Halloween, but an all year round party headquarters. We will be opening permanent Party HQ stores around Ireland from next year.
What’s your best advice for people decorating their homes this Halloween?
Just go all out!  Try something new, something different. There’s so much variety out there. You can change your whole house around, before you do the whole thing again for Christmas!
Is your own house decorated?
I’m getting there. I’ve pressure on me now because of where I work, so the neighbours are all expecting great things from my house!  I’ll pull it out of the bag this weekend hopefully!

Check out the full website HERE or have a look at the full list of Irish Halloween HQ Stores HERE


1 Comment

Eamonn Sweeney

I’ve spent four days trying to get a delivery from Halloween HQ after spending eighty euros on a costume on Sunday. No sign of it and it’s for a childrens party tomorrow. I wonder if your Businesswoman of the Week could do anything about that?

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