The definition of a serial entrepreneur is someone who starts and leads one business after another or, multiple businesses at the same time. And that certainly describes WiRE Member, Sarah Lewis, who is only 27.
In 2014 Sarah was working in a PR and marketing job, she often daydreamed about leaving and starting her own business. One day her dream started to turn to reality when she visited a local garden centre having been tasked with making table centres for her sister’s wedding.
That visit changed her life when she saw a ‘To Let’ for tea rooms and decided there and then to set up Lily’s Secret Vintage Tea Room at Swan Pit Nursery in Gnosall.
Going back a stage, Sarah’s journey started in 2007 when she trained as a chef and hospitality supervisor at Stafford College and then later at Harper Adams University taking a foundation degree in Marketing and Business Studies.
It was during her time at Harper Adams that Sarah began selling vintage china and collectables at events around the county, honing her selling skills and starting her love of vintage and her self- employment journey.
With just two weeks to set up her tearoom business before a Bank Holiday, Sarah used all her marketing, social media and blogging skills to grow her business. Along with baking and serving scrumptious cakes and bakes, Sarah puts on regular events and craft workshops and courses at Lily’s and also offers full catering services at private events and celebrations.
The outside catering side of her business really took off when she met the director from Cosford Air show whilst networking. Impressed with Sarah’s vintage themed catering, Sarah was offered a contract to run a pop up Vintage Tea Room at the Air Show. Now in her third year, Sarah has expanded her presence at the show to run a Vintage Village and at the 2017 show will provide all the corporate catering for this prestige Midlands event.
Working with other traders, other vintage events followed such as a Vintage Market at Middleport Pottery. The success of these ventures led her to set up Polka Dot Catering, the first of Sarah’s spin off businesses so that she could grow and separate the two sides of her business.
But Sarah was not to stop there. In the last year, just 3 and a half years since she started her tea room, she has set up two more businesses.
2017 saw the launch of Fizz Festivals following a meeting at a WiRE –iGrow workshop where she met Esther Wright of ElevenTen Consultancy & Event Management. After discovering a shared love of fizz, posh picnics and events they decided they wanted to work together putting on music events in the grounds of stately homes. Starting this year in with a Proms on the 9th September at Chetwynd Deer Park, the goal is to run five family friendly fun festivals next year.
Sarah said she missed being a trader and wanted to start a retail business to cover those gaps in the winter when the events and tea shop visits drop off.
And so was born The Beer and Cheese Lady! Using Midland’s based suppliers the business which is in the process of being set up will run online but will also trade at markets, food festivals and run special events such as corporate team building. It’s not just beer lovers that will catered for with two local brewery’s providing the beer, Sarah is looking at including gin in the future.
With Sarah doing many speaking engagements and being asked for advice from other tea shop owners another new business was born The Tearoom Academy www.facebook.com/SarahLewisAuthor/ and Sarah is somehow finding time to write a book to help others.
With so many businesses on the go, Sarah Lewis Enterprises Ltd was set up on the 1st April 2017. But watch out Sarah has 14 other domain names registered!
In recognition of her success Sarah has been nominated and won numerous business awards. One of her favourite being Small Business Sunday. Where six businesses that tweet #SBS are chosen and retweeted by Theo Paphitis joining an exclusive club that includes a certificate, yearly networking event, business support, seminars and the further opportunities.
Sarah is certainly an inspiration, driven as she is to set up and run successful businesses, she thrives on hard work and is not afraid to take risks – ‘What’s the worst that could happen!’ she says. Indeed, good luck Sarah you deserve it.
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Thanks again to our brilliant network leaders Lena Churm, Sandra Owen and Kim Gilmour for making our networking meetings friendly & inspiring and you cannot help but have lots of fun with Lena around! Whichever networking group you love to be a part of, we are all ladies in business together, who can learn from one another and support one another in ways only networking can so. Telford & Wrekin WiRE meet at the Marches Growth Hub at the University of Wolverhampton Telford Innovation Campus on the third Thursday of each month at 9.45am. Blog written by Kim Gilmour – Connect Consultancy