‘I want to continue to grow a high-end brand’
Inside Track: Maria Reidy Signature Events founder Maria Reidy
Maria Reidy: “To be the best at what I do is what drives me.”
Maria Reidy Signature Events is a full-service event-management company that offers a bespoke service for clients including tech giants, global consumer brands and private clients. Having established the business in 2015, Maria Reidy now employs 17 people full- and part-time in event planning, accountancy, warehouse management, driving and event production. She has recently acquired a 4,500sq ft warehouse and office facility in Drumcondra, in Dublin.
What sets your business apart from the competition?
We are a company with a global vision and are renowned for our attention to detail, creativity and flawless execution. I think the best testament to that is that once we secure a client they remain with us – we have very loyal clients.
We also stock a range of premium event-rental items such as furniture and decor that ensures our events are unique for our clients. We have a huge warehouse full of such items whereas many other event-management companies outsource these items.
We work both on- and off-site for clients depending on their event requirements. Many of the tech companies require events to take place on-site at their offices, while other clients, such as those in the aviation space, require us to host events internationally.
What was the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
When I was in college and on a J1 I worked for a high-end restaurant called the Paddocks in Cape Cod. It is no longer there but was run by an amazing couple, the Zartarians, with whom I had a great relationship. They not only gave me the bug for high-end hospitality, as their customers included people like the Kennedy family, but they gave me a lot of responsibility at a young age.
They were an example of the true American dream and had worked their way up from having a food cart on the street to having a beautiful high-end restaurant. They always taught me that you are only ever as good as the last client you serve. They also taught me never to ask an employee to do something that I would not be willing to do myself.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
Not hiring senior people in the early days of the business. I was afraid that I couldn’t afford it, it put an awful lot of pressure on me at the time and I worked seven days a week as a result. People always advise you to hire people before you need them, but when you are starting off it is scary to hire someone senior and pay out a lot of money in a salary. I have a great team around me now, and it has really enabled me to grow the business, but it is only with hindsight that I can see I should have done it earlier.
And your major success to date?
Expanding into international markets last year was a huge boost to the business as well as growing the corporate side – working with top tech businesses such as Facebook and Google has been a major win for us.
We’ve been delighted to create brand activations for companies such as Mazda, Pandora, Flahavans and Centra too. Brand activations, by their nature, tend to attract media attention, and therefore lead to other work off the back of them, which is great for business.
Acquiring our new premises has been a huge jump but a brilliant one as we now have more office space, a showroom, a large warehouse space in which to store decor and furniture and a consultancy space for clients.
Who do you most admire in business and why?
I admire Irish businesswomen such as Oonagh O’Hagan, Louise Phelan and Paula Fitzsimons – founder of Going for Growth. I recently completed the 2019 cycle of Going for Growth and found it invaluable. I learned so much from all the women I met and was privileged to be mentored by Oonagh in the programme.
What one piece of advice would you give to the Government to help stimulate the economy?
I now employ 17 people and feel that more incentives in terms of tax breaks for those creating employment would be great. I would also say that increasing the VAT on food from nine to 13 per cent has had an effect on business.
What’s been the biggest challenge you have had to face?
The business scaling rapidly in the past two years and trying to move into the new premises while continuing the momentum with clients has been a challenge. Taking the risk to move into a new premises as well as working internationally has been a great success but also a huge learning curve. It’s been a case of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.
How do you see the short-term future for your business?
Expanding and growing our corporate clients here in Ireland as well as internationally is a key focus for us. We are also hiring at the moment as growing our team in Ireland is a key focus at present.
What’s your business worth and would you sell it?
The last four years have gone by so quickly that I feel that I am only just starting. I want to continue to grow a high-end brand that is renowned for what it does. To be the best at what I do is what drives me so I wouldn’t say it’s for sale at the moment. It’s not to say it wouldn’t be in 10 years’ time at the right price.