Sarah John, 33, from Swansea recently entered the annual NatWest Everywoman Awards in the Aphrodite category and has received a special mention in the Daily Mail’s Inspire magazine as one of the top six mumpreneurs in the UK.
The Aphrodite award celebrates women who started a business with a child under the age of 12, and having begun her Welsh craft brewery in 2015 following the birth of her daughter Esme, she knows all about the ups and downs of business life with a young child, as Sarah explains:
“Before starting the business I worked in sales and marketing but thought I want to work for myself. I am very driven and ambitious and as I fell pregnant and had my daughter at the same time as starting the business I don’t know anything different.
“Day to day life is very busy, a juggling act but I like it. When I’m in work I focus on work and then at home I can focus on Esme. It was difficult at the start, especially when Esme was a baby. I used to take her to all my meetings and even have some meetings at home.
“But the last five years have flown by and we have grown and expanded much faster than expected which is amazing. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck our business was hit overnight as about 80% of our turnover came from pubs. But it became clear people were still drinking beer at home so we set up our online shop and we changed our focus to the supermarkets, where sales went up by 50%.”
Talking about the magazine’s feature she said, “I was really surprised – my business partner had put me forward so I had no idea. It’s really flattering and when I look at the other women in the category, I can’t help but feel I am punching above my weight.
“It’s an amazing national recognition especially as the awards are so high profile. To be in the top six for the whole of the UK and to be celebrated by the likes of the Daily Mail and NatWest is staggering.”
Now offering more than a dozen pale ales and stouts, including a chocolate and salted-caramel brew, the multi-award winning Boss Brewing beers can be found in Asda, Morrisons, Co-op and Tesco, and the good news is that Boss Brewing is still on target to increase turnover this year to £750,000. Looking to the future Boss Brewing has further plans to expand, as Sarah explains:
“We will continue to focus on home drinking and e-commerce as well as selling to national pub groups and retailers. We are looking at deals with Ocado and Amazon, and plan to grow our online shop. We already export to Canada and some countries in Europe and hope to expand further into Japan, Italy and France.
“To be successful you have to believe in your product and have passion for your business. We have been really lucky as what business we have lost in the pub trade we have gained in the home drinking sector.”
The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths added:
“This is a wonderful achievement for Sarah and the Boss Brewing company in Swansea. It really does put Welsh food and drink companies on the map, showcasing the great entrepreneurial spirit SME businesses have in Wales and in particular those led by women.
“It is important to celebrate and identify the inspirational female founders whose creativity and resilience will help us weather the current economic storm as Covid-19 is impacting the Welsh food and drink sector and threatens business survival.
“In the current climate, entrepreneurs around the country are demonstrating their flexibility and vision as demand for new products and services create an unprecedented opportunity for innovation and enterprise.
“The Welsh Government, acting under the guidance and on the advice of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, is taking action to support the sector.
“We want to maximise the number of food and drink businesses that survive the Covid-19 disruption and sustain supply chain networks. We need to minimise job losses and support the sector to recover and return to sales growth. Therefore it is critical that if your business is suffering you need to get the help and support needed.”