Inspired | Local Women Magazine | March 2017

Local Women March 2017

Local Women March 2017 (North West edition)


Hello ladies,

Spring is in the air, and it’s a great time to step back and reflect on your business. Maybe there’s something you could be doing better or perhaps there’s an opportunity just waiting for you to develop? In this column, Siobhan Allan shares her incredible journey with us. We’ve had a behind-the-scenes peek at where she’s going with her high-profile film and tv business, the Extras Dept. We offer our top tips for making your own videos. And Anna Macauley, the Savvy Retailer, offers her trademark no-nonsense advice to retailers as we wrap up this financial year.

As always, it’s your comments and questions that inspire this column. Get in touch on our Facebook page or website. We’d love to hear from you!

Sarah and Camilla

Managing your retail business

The Savvy Retailer, Anna Macauley

The Savvy Retailer, Anna Macauley

This months question comes from a retailer. “I find the next couple of months really tough on trade as customers are still paying off Christmas and they don’t seem to have an appetite for shopping. Do you have any tips to get me through the final quarter of the financial year?”

Anna says ‘Firstly, most retailers are in the same boat, so don’t think you’re alone.  Where your focus for the third quarter was on driving sales, your focus will change now to three key areas.


Fragmented lines and sale

You need to decide whether this stock needs to be marked down to clear or put into your stockroom for a future sale. Some retailers do have a ‘last chance to buy’ area on their sales floor, but only do this if you can afford the space.


Merchandising new season stock

Sale stock should now be de-emphasized and your customer should see new season stock when they enter your store. Even if they are after a bargain, showing off your new lines will encourage a return visit after their next payday!


Invest in your business

Now is a great time for staff development, so plan in time to retrain, revive and refresh your colleagues and that includes you! This will help you and your team refocus on tasks and help to boost efficiency.


the speakeasy club

So you’ve decided to make a promotional video about your business. Where do you start?


At Bespoke Communications, here’s what we’ve learnt about making the process as streamlined as possible.

  • Know your audience. Who’s your best customer? Do you know a real, actual person who is your ideal customer?  Imagine you’re speaking to them one-on-one. That will help you to keep it real, and avoid the waffle.
  • Develop your message. What’s the goal of your video – how do you want people to feel? Maybe you’d like them to learn something?  And don’t forget your call-to-action. What’s the next step you’d like people to take?
  • Get out there and perform! Practice before you book the professionals – use your phone or iPad at home to get used to presenting. You’ll need to be yourself, but maybe just a shinier version 🙂

The Speakeasy Club can help you to brush up on your camera presentation skills – with advice from tv presenter, Sarah.



Lights, camera, action – can Siobhan Allan make you a star?

How many of us have grown up dreaming of the glamorous life on a movie set?  How would you like to rub shoulders with the stars?   Here in Northern Ireland, we have all watched as our film industry has gone from strength to strength.   We’ve seen global blockbusters like Game of Thrones and The Fall being filmed here. And through the work of Siobhan Allan and her business partner Carla Stronge, we now all have a chance to be part of the action! Siobhan and Carla set up Extras NI ten years ago to help film productions source non-speaking extra performers for their film sets.  At the Extras Dept, the team say ‘we love your face’, so it’s suitable for all ages and all shapes and sizes. If you haven’t tried extra work yet, why not log onto and give it a go?


The Extras Dept - The Fall

The Extras Dept – The Fall

So Siobhan, how did it all get started?

My daughter, Sam, had graduated from university and landed herself a job with a production company filming here in Northern Ireland. She phoned me one day to say that she needed to source 250 extras for her film, and that she had no idea how to find them.  I downed tools and helped her to recruit her extras from all over Northern Ireland and beyond.  During that first escapade, Sam introduced me to her good friend, Carla, who has an in-depth knowledge of the film industry.  I was ready for change in my career, and together Carla and I decided to give Extras NI a go!

The Extras Dept - Game of Thrones

The Extras Dept – Game of Thrones

Did you ever imagine how the company would grow?

Last year, our extras on film sets in Northern Ireland took home £1.9 million in pay.  I need to pinch myself to think how the company has grown over the last ten years. We now have over 17,000 registered extras on our database.  But remember, film sets are not all glamour.  The days are long and there is a lot of sitting around. Our role is to make sure that all of the less exciting aspects such as health and safety and insurance are taken care of, and that our extras are looked after.  We have to make sure that our extras have a great working experience, and that the production companies’ experience is hassle-free and seamless.

The Extras Dept - Dracula

The Extras Dept – Dracula

What’s next for you?

The film and television industries in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are continuing to grow, so we are looking forward to taking on our biggest challenge to date. Extras NI has rebranded and relaunched as the The Extras Dept in March 2017.  We’ve introduced a brand new casting platform and plan to move into the Republic of Ireland market to open a Dublin office. We have firmly established ourselves over the last ten years in Northern Ireland, and our film production clients are increasingly asking us to help them fill their extras roles in the Republic in the same way that we do here.  Another significant milestone is that Emma Sweeney, who has been Extras NI manager for the last 4 years, will become a partner in our company this year. There are clearly exciting times ahead for us all!

The Extras Dept - The Lodge by Disney

The Extras Dept – The Lodge by Disney


So what’s been your favourite moment over the last ten years?

That’s easy! That was the day that I walked on a film set to be greeted personally by the American actor and comedian, Bill Murray. My daughter Sam had been working with him, as an Assistant Director and Bill had been really impressed with her work.  He came over to me especially and told me that I had one helluva kid! The memory of that moment makes me feel very proud.