Founders Interview | Sarah Lynn @ Sweets in The City
Hi Snackmaster Community!
I’m Sarah - founder of Sweets in the City, a confectionery business I jointly own with Lord Sugar after winning BBC One series ‘The Apprentice’ in December 2017.
My business focuses on providing premium confectionery products for customers that enjoy indulging in a little sugar now and again but want it to really be worth it.
Before my love affair with sweets began(!) I grew up in North London and studied History and Politics at Royal Holloway University of London.
I entered the world of work in 2003 and spent a few years developing my business skills at a communications consultancy.
Alongside my working life I am married and have two beautiful sons – so am a proud advocate for busy working mums!
Why did you become interested in the world of snacks & drinks?
It was probably inevitable I would end up in food – as I come from a family that love theirs(!). My father has also been connected to food businesses all his life through his food packaging business.
What inspired you to do what you do?
A desire to do something fun, that makes people smile, and that allows me to be creative and grow on a daily basis.
What current & future trends does your product meet?
Our products cover a lot of ground that people might see as ‘trend’ led – Vegan, Gluten Free, Natural Colours and Flavours – but really when it boils down to it we are just about creating the best tasting product in the best possible way – I mean why wouldn’t you opt for fruit-pectin’s and natural colours etc when they look and taste as good as non-Vegan and artificial options!
What did you do before starting your company & what made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
I worked in music as a runner when I first graduated, as well as a comms consultancy and various other areas – I took the leap before my first son was born, as I knew as time went on it would get trickier to make the leap!
What has been the hardest part of starting your business?
Being the person that the buck ultimately always stops with is sometimes stressful, but I love being able to make an impact in the confectionery space and to do what I love – I feel very lucky for that.
What has been the BEST mistake you’ve made & why?
The best mistake in hindsight was a painful one that taught me not to put all my hypothetical eggs in one basket.
In the early days we had a very big customer that we allowed to dominate too much of our creative time and growth, and we ended up being a little bit stung when they reduced their order volumes with minimal notice to allow a cheaper imported alternative to take precedence -and we had to quickly work very hard to build sales elsewhere to fill the gap.
It was a real lesson never to let too much of your volume business be reliant one or two customers or stockists, and the best bit of the pain in the longer terms was that the replacement did not work out as customers were savvy and complained about the downgrading - so we won the business back after 12 months!
What do you think are the key skills required to make yourself & your business a success in the world of snacks & drinks?
Innovation and tenacity are both key – as well as forward thinking and being adaptable to the changing world we find ourselves in.
What is your favourite meal?
Too many to choose from – impossible!
What do you do to make yourself relax?
Bath, Spa, Walks and Reading – not that this is often with two young boys 😊
What is your No.1 thing you want to achieve/do on your bucket list?
So many work related goals – but a number one non work goal is to go on an epic safari with the boys to South Africa.