Do you know what a Huntress is? When I first came across Hailey O’Bright’s job profile it sounded like something straight out of Game of Thrones. However, her story is a lot more pleasant!
The Idea Hunter is a business that brings amazing street cred to the Account Management position. I am thrilled that Hailey was able to take five and talk to me about her career.
Tell me a bit about your business
Our company – The Idea Hunter specializes in finding the coolest, most unique performers, and entertaining ideas around North America and bringing them to corporate events. We really add the wow factor to an event. As a huntress, I manage client accounts, organize entertainment for events, hunt out new acts and everything in between because we are only a company of 4 people.
My mom started the business and it has been growing for the last 14 years. I am her succession plan and want to take over the company when she retires.
What inspired your mom to start this company? What was she doing before it?
My mom had run her own fashion accessories company for 16 years. She was actually the first to start distributing Spanx in Canada. During a business trip she picked up Swarovski crystal tattoos, and one of her customers asked if she would come to her daughter’s bat mitzvah and apply them on guests as an activity. This is where Party Extras was born.
What is Party Extras?
Party extras was her first company. The idea was that she brought in fun interactive extras to events, like the tattoos, airbrushed t-shirts, embroidered knits. She later rebranded when she transitioned to corporate.
Before she knew it, her social clients were becoming corporate clients and she fully transitioned into corporate and rebranded as The Idea Hunter. My mom’s story has taught me that in order to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be open to change and risk, and grab onto opportunities when they are in front of you. My mom’s background in fashion has had a huge positive impact on our company. We apply the same theory about trends to our talent, which is why we are always searching for the new and different in entertainment.
Even now my mom says, “its all about the accessories”. Every little detail matters and that’s what takes a performance from being good to great.
So tell me a bit about yourself, where did you go to school?
I went to Laurier and graduated from their business program. I also completed 3 co-op placements. I began my studies with a focus in accounting and by fourth year had happily transitioned to a specialization in marketing.
What sparked the transition?
General Mills went through a restructure last August and I lost my job. To be honest, I was not overly excited about my role there, and I don’t think I would have ever had the guts to quit and take on a more entrepreneurial role with my mom. However, when I lost my job it was the perfect opportunity to try something new. I am very grateful that things worked out the way that they did.
This situation taught me a lot. You always have to be prepared in your career for the unexpected because nothing is certain. I also learned that while something can appear to be negative, it is sometimes a gift from the universe so make the best out of every situation and role with it. I like to think I turned lemons into lemonade.
What did you want to be while in school?
In high school, I wanted to be a teacher. I was even voted, most likely to return to my high school as a teacher.
What happened to change course from this?
My high school was quite large, so they offered many business courses. I was acing the classes and really enjoying the material that was being taught. I also felt that there was a better opportunity for a higher salary and long-term growth with a career in business. My parents also encouraged me to study business, so I knew I had their support.
What type of training did you need to complete to be in the career field you’re in now?
I worked in the consumer package goods industry as a brand strategist for 3 years before transitioning into my role at The Idea Hunter. While it’s a completely new industry (events), my skills are completely transferable. My path was unique, as many people in my position studied event management.
What about other jobs you’ve held?
Prior to working at The Idea hunter I worked as a brand strategist on Pepsi (2 years) and Yoplait yogurt (1 year). This role was very focused on analyzing the external environment to understand how we could continue to gain market share in competitive categories. I also got to work with agencies developing new package designs, marketing tools and even commercials.
What changes/shifts have you seen happen in your industry?
The industry is following the technology trends just as much as any other industry. New young blood coming into the events industry has a great opportunity to use social media, apps and new tech tools to enhance their events. These are things the more experienced people in the industry are struggling with.
What type of female would you recommend going into your field?
To work in the events industry, you need to have great communication skills and be extremely organized. We are in the top 10 most stressful industries, so being organized and on top of things is super important. Otherwise, it can become very overwhelming.
I also find those that are “people pleasers” like our industry. There is a lot of running around and making sure the client is happy so if you are motivated by wowing other people this is the industry for you.
What do you do each day to progress your career? Any habits or routines you follow to ensure personal and professional success?
My day starts at 5:30am with a workout. This is the best way for me to focus myself and bring a positive energy to my whole day. I feel amazing when I leave the gym and I feel like I can accomplish anything. I also eat very healthy. By living a healthy lifestyle, I strengthen my willpower, and I take this into my work. I am more focused and goal oriented.
I attend any and all networking events. This is something that I learned from my fabulous mother. She is the networking queen! People want to work with people that they know and feel connected to. In the events industry there are so many companies to choose from, so having connections with people on top of great service is super important. Yes, it can be tiring and sometimes I just want to go home after work but building relationships is a huge key to the success of The Idea Hunter.
What are some aspects of your job that people might not consider before entering it as a career?
When people hear “events” they think it is a lot of fun and glamorous. I’m not saying that its not, because I love the events we attend. However, there is a lot of planning, long hours and tiring details to manage to execute a perfect event. It also takes up a lot of personal time because many events are in the evening and on weekends. You need to love this line of work in order to be able to do it and stay passionate about it.
Who are your career role models?
My career role model is definitely my mom, Janice Cardinale. She came into the events industry with a background in fashion and built a business that has a roster of client’s people would kill for (i.e. Jays, TIFF, Holt Renfrew, Bell media, Shoppers Drug Mart, etc.). The thing about Janice is that she is fearless and aggressive with what she wants. She talks to everyone, goes to every event, volunteers, sponsors events and always stays connected.
How is it different working for your mom in comparison to a boss you have no personal ties too?
There are pros and cons. On the one hand I feel much more emotionally connected to my job because I know that everything I do impacts my family’s success. I feel like I have something worth waking up for now and fighting for. I never thought I could love my job, but working in a family business has showed me what that can feel like. Its amazing! Its also been amazing spending so much time with her, as I feel a lot closer to her. We are building something together and that’s pretty freaking cool. You just don’t feel that way when you are putting in the hours for someone else. I never committed the hours or passion to another boss the way I do now.
On the other hand, it definitely has its challenges. I have to balance how much I push back on things and sometimes bite my tongue out of respect for her, as the owner of the company. However, the reason why my working relationship works so well with my mom is because we both bring completely different skills and knowledge to the table. We know we need each other, so not matter what disagreement we may have we just move on and focus on the business.
Is there a strong female representation in your field?
There is a very strong representation of females in the events industry. We tend to be very detail oriented and creative. However, there are also a lot of males as well and I think the mix is promising. Any gender can be a leader in this industry.
What predictions can you make about your job over the next few years?
In the next few years I will be running The Idea Hunter and I am very excited about that. My dream for the Idea Hunter is that we will be providing entertaining ideas for even more events across North America and internationally than we are now.
I always like to leave our readers with something tangible to take away. Could you tell us what websites and apps you utilize?
I also use social media a lot when it comes to hunting out new ideas or entertainers. This includes Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
My most used app is Google Maps because I need to get around this big city to events!