Entrepreneur Taps Spooky Market

Halloween children costumes

Growing up, Kate Maloney started thinking about her Halloween costume a couple of hours before hitting the streets for Smarties and Fun Size Twix. The event commanded little of her attention. But as an adult, she’s preparing for it all year.

Maloney has built a career around Halloween as CEO of CostumeCraze, an online retailer. The company’s lengthy prep work culminates in a frenetic October when employee numbers quintuple and hundreds of thousands of packages go out its doors.

Costuming wasn’t always her career plan, but that how things fell into place. In 2001, Maloney, a BYU entrepreneurship student, teamed up with her brother Matt to market a software program that helped online retailers generate more search engine hits. No one was buying the software—and they took out a second mortgage on their mom’s house. While the software wasn’t selling, their test website, which sold monk robes, started to take off.

kate-maloneycostumecraze“Be flexible,” Maloney advises would-be entrepreneurs, a lesson she learned early. “Don’t keep wasting all of your money because one idea didn’t work. We had something else that was working very well and now the mortgage has been paid off.”

What once was limited to monk robes has expanded to a warehouse with thousands of options for children, adults, and even pets. In a matter of years, CostumeCraze has become one of the world’s largest online costume retailers. For Maloney, the hard work she has put into the company is well worth it.

“Nothing can compete with having your own business,” she say. “I’ve worked harder and more hours here than I have at anything else in my life, but you don’t realize it because you enjoy it so much. You get satisfaction seeing the idea from the beginning to the end.”

Maloney, who won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2010, says she doesn’t let being a woman—or her relative youth—dictate how she manages her company.

“The biggest thing that goes wrong is a woman remembering she is a woman and thinking it matters,” Maloney says. “It shouldn’t define the way you are going to run a business.”

A true entrepreneur, Maloney says she has another business idea every single day. When life’s routine nuisances bother her, she tries to think of ways to solve them instead of letting them go. But for now, she is committed to growing and improving CostumeCraze and trying to find a way to make the business stronger in the costuming off-season. Of course, Maloney, who says she enjoys the excitement of the unknown, keeps other options open.

“If I had the opportunity to step back a little bit and pursue my other ideas, that would be great too,” she says.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2009 issue of Marriott Alumni Magazine. Read more class notes in Alumni News.