Get to know Eimear McCann
Eimear McCann, originally from Mullingar, has been entertaining children since the age of 16. For the last 9 years she has had her own entertainment business, Little Laughs, offering a wide range of activities to suit any kid’s party or event. Here she talks to PartyWizz about her career, what makes her tick, and offers advice for hosting stress-free parties.
How did you get into kid’s entertainment?
My family are all fairly practical but none of them are in the industry, so I’d say it was a fairly unexpected career choice. It started with Face painting which was the first skill I learnt. When I was 15, my step father bought me a set of face paints. Although no Picasso, I was into art at school so the Face painting came quite naturally to me. After a bit of practice, I started to paint the kids at school and those of family friends.
And how did it become a business?
After charging a few family friends for face painting, I seemed to have a flair for it, so I set up a stand at the Horse show and charged a pound per face painted. At the end of the day I had 50 quid which was great for a day’s work for a 16 year old at the time. I knew I was on to something.
And how did you become inspired to take it further?
I kept up the face painting and, when I was around 19, I started working with a circus family. They had amazing skills such as juggling and fire eating, and I started to expand my own skillset including balloon modelling. Plus, I learned more about the industry along the way.
And how did you come to set up your own business?
After travelling for a while, I moved to Dublin. I did some freelance work and then decided I had enough knowledge and experience to go it alone. So, in 2009 I set up Little Laughs and have never regretted it. Working for myself is great; I love the fact I’m not answerable to anyone. And it gives me the flexibility to work from home much of the time so I can take care of my own kids as well.
And how did you build the business?
I started with just myself and then I slowly started to take on more entertainers to join me. At the same time, I started developing the repertoire of what we offer. We started with the magic and puppetry packages but now offer everything from Pamper Parties, to Arts and Craft activities and Slime parties. The latest addition to the range of activities is slumber parties; we deliver and set up beautifully made Teepees so you can easily host a sleepover at home.
What makes you different as a business?
One thing is the wide range of different packages we offer. We also offer activities for older kids which are often quite difficult to find. So, for example the puppets and magic is popular with the 3-8 year olds, but the arts and crafts and pamper parties are perfect for older kids, and the Teepees are great for the 8-13 year olds.
Also, despite the fact that the business is now bigger than just myself, I am still very hands on and offer a personal touch in everything we do. We are also pretty creative and can also tailor the party to suit special requests or interests and try to make each and every party special.
Finally, I offer advice to parents who need it. People really appreciate suggestions, especially mums who are doing parties for the first time.
Can you give us some of your top tips for hosting parties?
Yes of course. The first thing would be to order pizza to reduce some of the pressure on the day. I’ve seen so many mums who never get to enjoy the party because they spend the whole time in the kitchen preparing the food!
Secondly, make sure you have a good space for the entertainer and there are not too many distractions for the kids. Having the party in the playroom is not a good idea! Try to cover toys and other distractions.
Finally, don’t leave out bowls of sweets at the start of a party. You’ll get the effects of the sugar rush very early and the kids will be wired!
What have been the biggest challenges in developing the business?
I’ve been slowly building up a team of talented entertainers. The main challenge has been finding enough really good people. I only want to work with the best so that’s really what dictates how fast we can grow.
So, 22 years later you are still entertaining children, what keep you doing what you do?
I love kids; it’s their innocence. And I love what I do. It can be hard work and there can be challenging kids but I love their reactions. When you hear from the parent who has booked you that their child is so excited and counting the sleeps to their party, that’s so sweet to hear.
Also, now I have my own two kids as well, I have a greater empathy with the parents booking me and the kids themselves.
Has anything changed in terms of the industry in that time?
Children’s expectations have changed. It used to be the case that children were more able to entertain themselves. Now they increasingly need to be entertained. Also, kids will nowadays, tell you exactly what they think about the party and about other parties that they’ve been to. I remember one kid who had already been to a party earlier on the same day, high on sugar, tell me excitedly that the party he had just come from was terrible and that he hoped this one would be better!
What are your plans for the future?
Its all about growing the business and expanding what we offer. For example, we have just opened a wonderful party venue in Santry, so people who don’t want to host a party at home can use our space. A lot of venues such as the GAA clubs tend to be rather bland. Ours space been designed specifically for kids and looks really fun and pretty.
What do you think of PartyWizz
It’s great. It makes things so simple and the website is excellent. So easy to navigate and find what you need.
If you’d like to book any of Little Laughs’ fantastic party packages, click here: