Get to know Genie Mackers
Juliette Rahill is one of the best known and loved children’s entertainers in Dublin. She founded Genie Mackers, a successful business that now also trains other entertainers to her high standards.
After 11 years of entertaining kids she is now also about to launch herself as a magician for grown-ups. We asked Juliette about how she got into the business, her inspiration and what the future has in store.
Quickfire questions with Juliette
What is your background and what did you do before kid’s parties?
I was an art student at IADT. During college, I supported myself with acting gigs. I also taught young children music and art and this is when I first began to work with children.
How did you get into entertaining and the party business?
I was playing the harp at an event when I was 17 years old. An events manager approached me and asked if I would play the harp for weddings.
He then told me he was stuck for a face painter at an event he was running that weekend and asked me if I could face paint. I had never face painted before but I loved art and thought I could pull it off so I bought paints that day and taught myself.
I enjoyed the gig so much that I then taught myself balloon animals. I observed other entertainers while face painting. I noticed things I did and didn’t like and put together a package I felt worked really well.
What inspired you to start the business?
I discovered that I love working with children – children are always looking to enjoy themselves, and it’s incredible to be able to do something designed specifically to create laughter and enjoyment.
I found I got a real buzz out of their capacity for fun. I suppose that was the inspiration..
I graduated as a graphic designer during the recession. There wasn’t much work in the area, but by then I knew I would never suit a 9 to 5 job, so I felt I had nothing to lose from growing my kid’s entertainment service into a business.
Did you always want to have your own business?
My dream as a child was to own a creche to the side of my house… that and be a hairdresser that only did plaits 😉
How did you learn the necessary skills?
Working as a face painter and balloon modeler, I had lots of opportunity to observe kid-centred events. It gave me a real insight into what was needed, and I came up with my own ideas.
My nephew was a great help too. He was 3 years old at the time and every time I would buy a puppet, game or magic trick I would practice on him. If I wasn’t getting a good reaction I wouldn’t include it in my show.
I do recall him being terrified of a gorilla I’d bought. That poor gorilla never got a chance to take part in my parties but I did hide him around my sister’s house – fridge, cupboards etc. It terrified her! So I got my own kicks out of him!
Why do you enjoy what you do?
I feel incredibly lucky to enjoy my job. No matter how bad my day is, I am forced to leave the madness at the door. When I enter a party zone I have a smile on my face and it instantly makes me feel better.
The job requires concentration – you can’t just phone it in – so once I walk into a party you forget about everything, and there’s nothing more gratifying than making a child laugh and knowing you’re making their day. I like that there’s a new group of kids every time – a new dynamic, new parents, new places.
In saying that I do often see a lot of the same kids which I LOVE. I challenge myself to remember their names even if the party was 2 year ago. It’s a very people-centred job and I suppose I am interested in people.
Tell us about the parties that you do in terms of what happens
Our most popular package is our Magical plus. In this package I start with face painting as the kids arrive. As the painting is a one on one process this gives them time for late comers. Once the face painting has finished everyone has arrived.
I then kick off the magic (my favourite part) and tell stories about Magic Land while focusing on the birthday child/guest of honour.
We move on to some party games where the kids can release all of their energy. If the children are under the age of 6 I take out Funny Bunny, our little rascal bunny puppet.
All of our parties finish with balloon animal prizes. This means they’re all going home with something, so the parent doesn’t have to worry about party bags.
What is different about what you do vs your competitors?
Humm good questions. Maybe our magical stories. We arrive dressed as whatever character the child has chosen and we remain in character throughout. The magical stories we tell throughout the party are very unique. We love to get a real feel for what is needed, and can tailor our package to the event.
What is your favourite kind of gig or have any been especially memorable?
I love seeing the same children over and over again. One little girl in particular I have entertained for every year since she was 4 years old. I recently did her 13 birthday party, despite the fact we usually only entertain up to 10 year olds.
I felt part of the family at that stage. It really is so lovely when that happens. I feel so privileged to be able to see kids grow.
Has anything ever not gone quite to plan?
Once I turned up as a fairy princess to the wrong house. The old lady that answered was very amused though. I was so early for my party I even managed to show her a trick or two before flying off. She was thrilled with herself 😉
Has the kids party industry changed since you started doing it?
It has grown over the years. I find more people want to have parties in their house and book entertainers. However I did start during the recession so it may have been like that beforehand.
How many shows do you estimate you have personally done? And the business as a whole?
I would say I have done about three thousand parties myself. Geniemackers would average about 9 thousand. I love the idea that we have brought fun and laughter to an estimated 135,000 children. That to me is so rewarding
Tell us something we wouldn’t know about you?
Hummm, here’s a random one. I am also a voiceover artist so you may hear me on Sunshine 106.8, Classhits, 4fm and Spirit radio adverts pushing who knows what.
What are your top 3 party tips for someone hosting a stress-free kids party?
- Try to get your child involved with the preparation of the party.
- Get your invites out first… the number of times a poor parent has had to reschedule because another child’s party was the same day…!
- Keep the sugar until the end of the party 😉
Why do you like PartyWizz?
PartyWizz is amazing. It is lovely not to have to worry about the admin knowing that it is in Hamish’s responsible hands.
So I hear you and a friend at Genie Mackers are going to be starting performing magic for grown-ups too?
Myself and Dee are so excited about our new venture into the adult magic world. We now offer close-up magic for adult events, pubs, weddings, 40th, 60th’s – any adult event where something extra is required. The mind reading/mentalism is our favourite at the moment. It is mind blowing!!
How did you decide to try that?
We joined the Society of Irish Magicians and noticed there were no other females, and so we thought that might represent a real opportunity. We get so excited by adult magic too
It’s been an incredible journey so far. All of the magicians have been so welcoming and kind to us. We have learnt so much from many brilliant minds.
Tell us about your fellow Magicienne Dee?
Dee is my hero!! When I had my little girl 2 years ago Dee took the reigns and kept Geniemackers going. It gave me the chance to focus on my little girl but I also learnt so much from Dee.
I was stuck in my ways for many years and having someone to run ideas by was invaluable. We then became the most amazing team!! Dee is like my right arm and I have no idea what I would do without her.
I started Geniemackers kids parties alone and I have to say entering the adult magic world with Dee is so much more exciting. Dee holds me accountable too 😉
We performed magic in several pubs around Dublin together recently and I have never laughed so much.
Do you think kids or adults are more difficult to entertain/fool?
Kids are more difficult to impress. I have tried the same magic on kids and adults.. The adults are blown away. They are happy to enjoy the magic and feel like kids again. The kids are constantly trying to figure out how it is done.
I remember someone saying that entertaining for children is like entertaining for extremely drunk adults… they grab the magic from your hands and heckle but I enjoy both audiences. No one event or crowd are ever the same so at this stage I think I could adapt to any situation.
What do you think about women in magic and do you think people have preconceptions about magicians being male?
We will soon find out…!
Do you have an ultimate ambition?
Dee and I often joke about going on Britain’s got talent.
We would love to go to India with Clowns Without Borders one day.
On a personal level I am just DYING to train my little girl up one day. Imagine how amazing it would be for her to have magical skills as a ten-year-old. Although I think at this stage she is already sick of seeing my daily magic.
You can book Geniemackers through her entertainer profile page.