Sarah Lynn is the confectionery store-owner that won the BBC Apprentice 2017 along with recruiter James White with whom I spoke last week. I know that ladies should come first, but I wanted to tie the interview in with the official launch of Sweets in the City that took place in London on the 7th June 2018. I wasn’t there, but I know that artist Nathan Wyburn created a portrait of Lord Sugar in sweets.
Talking about pictures, somebody once said that attitude speaks louder words. Well, look at this ← boardroom picture of Sarah I took by screenshotting the final’s video as I couldn’t find any decent pic of her on the Internet – and you know why? Because she never ever looked at the camera nor used her pair of stunning eyes to try to impress you. She was just too busy making sense.
At no time in 12 weeks did Sarah act like a typical reality TV contender. She worked hard, she cooperated nicely with (any) individual in the show – even with people like Joanna after the latter basically spent 12 weeks screaming like a fishwife and pissing everyone off without ever delivering anything if not by pure chance. You know, I couldn’t. Ever. Cooperate With. (Or Even Talked To). Somebody. Like. Joanna. God, I still see her in my nightmares – she scares the hell out of me. But that’s what people like Sarah are made for – this is the true superpower of born leaders (not mere managers), to inspire people and take the best out of any single entity they meet.
Hey Sarah – thank you very much for finding the time to do this, and congratulations for winning The Apprentice!
Oh, thank you, Silvia.
Did you just launch Sweets in the City, right?
Yes, exactly, we just launched the new Sweets in the City website and the letterbox treats: people can personalise their sweets and send them as a gift by post.
So, congratulations for this as well!
Yes, thank you!
How does it feel to win The Apprentice together with another person for the first time in history?
Oh, it was incredible! It was such a nice end to the show – you know, some people got disappointed because just one of us would normally win, but it was nice because we both get on very well, and so Lord Sugar doubled the investment. And I was so happy for James as well… you know, if we both had the same business or product maybe that would be weird, but because we do completely different things, it doesn’t feel like they are similar industries, so it’s different media, different focuses – you know, we’re also different ages and different genders… I think they are so many differences between us that we’re quite lucky in the way businesses don’t compare, so we both just do our own things.
A lot of people criticised the fact that you don’t actually produce the sweets, that you just package them… what do you think?
You know, among the lots of things we do and the products we sell, we try to sell the best versions of each one of them and different products to people – and we’re also developing a range of our own products, and that will be launched soon – and I’m very excited about this!
Wow, that’s interesting! And oh, I also wanted to know what was your dream job as a child.
Oh, as a child I wanted to be a lawyer, really, and after that there were so many things that interested me but then I always enjoyed business and everything that was related to management and working with people, so at the end of the day I decided that I wanted to run my own business.
But did you eventually study Law to become a lawyer?
I didn’t study Law, no – I studied History & Politics at University, because by the time I was 18 I didn’t want to do Law anymore, so I thought I would just do pursue a Degree and then learn about business and how it works, so I worked throughout University and learned business that way.
Mmm… what star sign are you? Don’t tell me you’re Libra…
Ahahahah I knew that!! I’m so good at guessing star signs!! But let me get back to the serious questions… how and when did you realise that you didn’t want to be just a regular employee – that you wanted to work for yourself?
I think from a very young age I always liked to be independent and I always thought it would be fun to run my own business: I liked the idea of doing something on my own entitlement and do what I could, really… so, yeah, that’s where it all came from.
And why have you chosen sweets and not something else?
I love confectionery. And I was travelling with my husband – I was working in a management consultancy at the time – and while we were away, we were thinking about the different things I may do – and what of the things I always used to do in my job involved a lot of corporate gift buying for clients – so things like chocolate, Champagne, flowers. I always thought that it would be nice to send sweets but they always look a bit cheap or not very nice: I’d always wanted to do something very stylish that people would love to send and receive.
I think this is a good way to make sweets more “accepted” by people – because you know, everybody now is saying that we’re eating too much sugar…
I think that everything should be in moderation: it’s the treat, it’s the gift – you know, just like chocolate has always been a gift, it’s not something people should be eating all day, every day. You know, it’s meant to be a nice treat for occasions, birthdays, events… and when it comes to people who have dietary restrictions, we can have sugar-free, gelatine-free and gluten-free options, so there’s a lot of choice for people on the website.
If you were not selling sweets, what would you be doing right now? What was your plan B?
I’ll probably be selling something, because I love sales and building a brand, so I would be probably working in something in this area, maybe still in the food industry… I love food, this is something I am really passionate about… you know?
Of course I know, I’m Italian!
Oh, really? My family are part Italian, my grandmother – the mother of my father – is Italian! She’s from Ravello and makes an amazing Lasagna haha… and I love pasta, I love all the Italian food…
Haha, that’s great! I’ve got the last question about your business: what piece of advice would you give to someone struggling to find their way between regular employment and self-employment or business?
I think you can remain in your job and start your business on a small scale while you’re still earning some money, and spend your evening and weekends building your business so you can launch in the best way possible. And I would say: if you’re on a budget and have financial restrictions, just start small and put the business model on work and see how it’s going, and then, if it’s working, go for it: a lot of time you won’t need a huge cashflow or investment. So I would say this would be my main piece of advice.
Would you like to add anything else at all?
I think I just want to say that I’m over-excited about all this: the last six months we worked a lot behind the scenes to try to get everything ready, the product range right, the website right, the production stream correct… so, it’s a very exciting time for us… I hope that in the next months everybody will visit the new website and that they’ll like what they see!!
Brilliant! Thank you very much for your time, Sarah!