Business / women / Women in Business

Small Business Week Interviews Shari McConahay

Interview with Shari McConahay. Co-Owner, Vice President and Director of Marketing for Extreme Halloween, Inc.

Tell us about your business.
We are a family owned and operated web based retailer of costumes and costume related merchandise. We have a network of 13 websites and also sell shoes, boots, novelty items, wigs, and theatrical makeup. Our target audience varies but our main customer are women and moms.

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
Being a business owner mean so much. It is a very hard, yet very rewarding job to have. Being in a family business adds another dimension to life as an entrepreneur, I work with my dad and my husband too. I grew up in the family business when we had brick and mortar stores, first a card and gift shop and then the costume shop. I worked in the stores growing up and while in high school and college. Then I left the business to finish my bachelors degree in psychology; intending to go out on my own. While at school, I took up the computer as a hobby and got the idea to put pictures of the costumes in our store online for the purpose of selling them online and then shipping them. This blossomed into a growing business and after graduating college, it became such a big part of the business that my dad and I decided to partner up and separate the online business from the store. Within a couple years the online business was outselling and outperforming the store with 7 times the profits. In 2003 the store was closed for good and now all of our efforts are concentrated on the online business. So in answer to the question, I became and entrepreneur by accident!

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
My dad has definitely been my greatest influence. His knowledge of the costume business is renown in the industry.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
My greatest accomplishment for our business is that we are the #1 independently owned costume business online, we compete with big corporate businesses out there.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
My grandmother, who is THE “Annie” of our name sake www.AnniesCostumes.com always used to tell us: “Buy for a little and sell for a lot, and don’t buy anything that isn’t going to sell.” It has always been a joke in our family, but it has been something that we still follow, or at least think about when purchasing our stock.

The best advice that I have been given and would like to give though, is to always re-evaluate your business and the environment and make changes when they need to happen, or BEFORE they need to happen. Don’t be afraid or opposed to change, it has to happen to persevere over the years, nothing stays the same!

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Many people think that being your own boss and having your own company is easy, but it is not easy. As the saying goes, “When you are your own boss you get to pick the 80 hours you work per week!”.

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you succeed?
Seek out others in your industry, join groups and associations.
National Costumer’s Association (NCA) www.costumers.org
South Florida Interactive Marketing Association (SFIMA) www.sfima.com
Keep an eye on your competition: www.SpyFu.com
Online Marketing Reading: www.MediaPost.com

What is the Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
Increase the conversion rate on our websites.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Always keep reading up on topics that affect your industry, never stop learning and lead with an open

How can our readers find you online?
Website Network: www.ExtremeHalloweenNetwork.net
twitter.com/sharimcconahay
twitter.com/anniescostumes
Company Blog: www.ExtremeHalloween.blogspot.com

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