It is spooky season and Saudi entrepreneur Filwa Al-Hejailan, founder of Kingdom of Costumes, “the first online costume shop in Saudi Arabia,” is getting ready for the festivities.
When speaking to Arab News, the entrepreneur said that the idea of Kingdom of Costumes came to her in 2013 when she was planning her sister’s 30th Alice in Wonderland-themed birthday party.
“I found that there was a gap in the market. I realized we didn’t have enough costumes in Riyadh. So, I had to order them all from Amazon UK and US, and it was a stressful and nerve-wrecking process as they weren’t guaranteed to reach us in time,” Al-Hejailan told Arab News.
“When I searched the market, I also realized there weren’t any online costume shops in all of GCC except one in the UAE which sold mostly children’s costumes and hardly had a selection of adult costumes,” she added.
Al-Hejailan launched her website, which sells outfits for children and adults, on her own in October 2013. Now, seven years later, she has a team of five employees — all women.
“I saw that women can do everything that is required,” she said.
Kingdom of Costumes, which has now become the local supplier of party garments for Amazon Saudi Arabia, also sells wigs, masks, large angel wings, swimming mermaid tails, cinematic contact lenses, special effects makeup and other accessories.
For this season, Al-Hejailan said angel wings, contact lenses and costumes for Netflix’s “La Casa De Papel” series are the most ordered.
The business might sound fun to many, but Al-Hejailan said it comes with a lot of challenges that got her thinking of quitting multiple times.
“The biggest challenge I faced is shipping-related issues, such as cash on delivery and dealing with delays in shipping and customs which have negatively affected the time-sensitive nature of the business,” she said. “I noticed people are in a habit of buying costumes last minute. I’ve been through extremely nerve-wrecking moments for both myself and customers.
“To be honest, I did consider quitting a few times because of the pressure, but then when I saw how much some customers – such as moms – appreciated and needed Kingdom of Costumes for their children, and how much joy it brought to children, teens and also adults, such rewarding feeling has encouraged me to keep going,” added Al-Hejailan.
Even though the peak of the business is during Halloween, Al-Hejailan does not consider this a “seasonal business.”
“It actually operates all year round and caters to many school events, birthdays and other events that are not related to Halloween,” she said.
Besides Kingdom of Costumes, the entrepreneur also has a home baking business, which she started during the pandemic. She has a culinary degree from Paris’ Le Cordon Bleu.