My Story - Chapter 5 - Growing the Brand
In the early days, I worked with just my mum. I remember our very first event, it was for 30 white chair covers with baby pink bows, for a 21st birthday at Durham Marriott. We were both so nervous decorating those chairs, wanting them to be just perfect.
(When I look back now, in some busy weeks we can decorate 1500 Chair Covers and that’s in just one franchise. How we have grown).
That first event was so important to me. I suffered from desperate anxiety and low self confidence after being bankrupt. It was the losing control and independence, so for someone to believe in me enough to pay their money and ask me to decorate their special event, was the first step back on the ladder for me both financially and mentally.
As time passed, the enquiries kept flooding in and our preferred supplier status was growing in some fabulous hotels. With them referring us to all of their clients, I had a ready made sales team.
In our first year mum and I decorated 88 weddings. I turned over £79,000.00. To a bankrupt mum, that was a lot of money. I reinvested every penny I made to grow the brand and before too long I was in a position to try to negotiate with the bank to save our home. Long and painful story short, I put in the sales pitch of my life and they agreed that if I could pay the arrears and start paying the mortgage again, they would hand me back my house.
I sold all of my jewellery, all of my equestrian kit, saddles, clothing, you name it, I cashed it. I also borrowed more money off my mum and dad (who I can happily say have been paid back), and to my son and my absolute delight we saved our home. The one place we felt safe.
Next... Personal Growth
"Sarah is everything a successful entrepreneur should be, creative, tenacious with a clear vision on how to develop her business. She never ceases to impress me with her energy, attention to detail and most importantly, is always comfortable leading from the front with her hands on management style..."
Nick Holmes - Former MD at Rockliffe Hall, Non Executive Director positions at Gisborough Hall, Swinton Estate and Ramside Hall
"Having set up my business when I was 23, Sarah's advice and experiences in the wedding industry were a vital part in the success of my Simply Bows and Chair Covers franchise. As a franchisor, Sarah has always been on the other end of the phone to help me with my dilemmas and pass on her experience and business advice..."
Joanne Smith - Simply Bows and Chair Covers Lancashire
"Sarah was asked to support the wedding product here. Right from the first meeting she was professional, personable and down to earth. She found out as much information as possible, including attending events to get a feel for our product first hand and give her the best insight..."
Ruairidh Taylor - Hotel Manager, Gisborough Hall Hotel
"I hope our paths cross again before too long because I think you’re a brilliant example to budding doubters like me and a flipping great individual too! Thanks again for the inspiration you are and always be aware that folks like me, who’ve had the good fortune to meet you, are better for it..."
Alan Green - Corporate Photographer
"Sarah is an extremely good listener and will look at projects from all angles and give help and advice from her perspective.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Sarah as a mentor and indeed will be back in touch with her soon with regards to my next business venture..."
"I was so inspired by Sarah’s story, where she had been, what she had endured and the phenomenal success she made Simply Bows and Chair Covers I just knew I had to be a part of this great business model.
I have now been running my franchise for the last 4 years and I love it. Sarah is very supportive, knowledgeable and I know if I need advice she will always be there..."
Adele - Simply Bows & Chair Covers, South Wales
"I joined the team at Simply Bows & Chair Covers Northumberland in 2015, this was a big step for me but Sarah gave me some good advice and lots of support. This was the best move I made and I have not looked back. Thanks to Sarah's guidance and time that she has invested in me, I feel stronger and more confident not only in my work but in life in general..."
Debbie - Simply Bows & Chair Covers, Northumberland