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Country Life: Sara Davies shares her 5 top tips for starting a small business

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Sara Davies started Crafter’s Companion, her multimillion-pound business, while she was still at university. She has since been a judge on Dragons’ Den and a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. This year, she launches her own BBC show, encouraging people to pitch their inventions. We met Sara near her hometown in County Durham to discover what goes into the making of an entrepreneur extraordinaire.

Every Monday evening, 14-year-old Sara Davies, then Johnson, would drop in on her neighbours. She was on business. Sara was renovating a room in their homes. Each week, she would collect a small payment.

After a year, she would use the money to buy materials from her parents’ wallpaper and paint shop and hire a decorator. “It was a nice little revenue model. What I do now on shopping TV is not overly different,” she laughs.

Sara founded Crafter’s Companion, the multimillion-pound business that has made her name, at university. Today, it sells stamps and stencils, crochet kits and colouring pencils. But it owes its success to a tool Sara invented for making envelopes in her student digs and her ability to sell it on a shopping channel. Within half an hour of demoing it on air, she had persuaded 8,000 people they needed an Enveloper in their life. Crafters not only loved the product; they loved her.

For the next 10 years, Sara grew her craft business. Then, in 2019, she became a judge on Dragons’ Den, followed a couple of years later by a whirl on Strictly Come Dancing. Now, she’s back in the Den and is about to start filming her own BBC show, encouraging people to pitch their invention. “I’ll be able to empathise with them because I know what it’s like coming up with an idea.”

Sara’s drive has always been accompanied by empathy, warmth and a desire not to let anyone down – staff, friends, her children, herself. Growing up, she was quiet and unassuming. “I was shy… I lacked self-confidence. I went through school being in the background of everything.”

She didn’t mind knocking on neighbours’ doors because she was running a business. It was a family trait. Sara’s dad, Frank, ran a small transport company. Her mum, Susan, ran the local wallpaper and paint shop. Her parents showed Sara the value of hard work, while putting family first. The shop had been set up by Sara’s dad as the sort of business her mum could run while she looked after Sara and her younger sister, Helen.

Read the full interview here.