In 1995 Sahar Hashemi together with her brother Bobby founded Coffee Republic, and built it into one of the UK’s most recognised high street brands with a turnover of £30m. Giving up highly professional jobs, she a lawyer in London and he an investment banker in New York, they staked everything on a dream – and made Coffee Republic one of the main players in the ‘coffee revolution’ that transformed a nation of tea drinkers into one obsessed with ‘triple decaf half-fat lattes’ (Coffee Republic opened 3 years before Starbucks came to the UK).
Neither had any previous knowledge about retail or indeed coffee. But Sahar had developed a passion for the skinny lattes and fat free muffins she had seen in New York. How they came to build a nationwide coffee chain is a fascinating and inspirational tale of the ups and downs of following your dream. From the first conversation when the seed of the idea was planted, to getting a DTI Small Firms Loan Guarantee, finding a name and opening the first store, its a personal story about two people who stopped ‘thinking about it’ and ‘did it’.
Sahar left the day to day management of Coffee Republic in 2001 and wrote a book called ‘Anyone Can Do It – Building Coffee Republic from our Kitchen table’ which tackles some of the fears and answers some of the elusive questions about what it really takes to become an entrepreneur. The book reached no 1 in the Amazon business chart in 2007 became the second biggest selling book on Entrepreneurship in the UK, after Richard Branson (Nielsen Bookscan).
It is ‘suggested reading’ for the London Business School entrepreneurship course and Chapter 1 has been included as part of the syllabus of the Entrepreneurship summer school. The book has also been endorsed by the DTI, Prince’s Trust and IoD and has received wide press coverage.
She is a popular speaker on the international conference circuit, and has spoken throughout the UK, Europe and the Middle East for clients such as diverse as Microsoft, Novartis Royal Bank of Scotland and Accenture. She is also a popular choice for trade associations and government bodies such as Business Link, IoD and the CBI and has had widespread coverage in the media.
In 2005 she found time to set up a new business – Skinny Candy – a range of natural sugar free sweets such as cola bottles, chocolate raisins etc which are now stocked in a range of department stores and shops around the country, and is tipped to become another success. With the launch of the new company Sahar’s had to go back to basics and is indeed practicing what she preaches, putting into practice the lessons from her speeches. It was listed as ‘whats HOT!’ in Tatler and described as ‘a winner’ by Rosie Boycott in ES magazine.
Other achievements include being named a ‘Pioneer to the life of the nation’ by Her Majesty The Queen, listed in the 100 Most Influential Women in Britain by the Daly Mail, 20 most powerful women in Britain by Independent on Sunday and has been on the cover of countless business magazines and supplements including Management Today, Director, Business 550 and The Observer. She’s also a regular contributor to the media with appearances on media appearances include CNN Business Breakfast, BBC2, Radio 4, LBC, Radio 5 and BBC London amongst many others.
- The Entrepreneurial mindset
- Anyone Can Do It – the system of making it happen
- Intrapreneurship – sparking the entrepreneurial spirit within large organisations
Brand building and marketing- the entrepreneurs way
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“Your energizing talk on the necessity of passion to drive business growth was inspiring for everyone…Needless to say, our expectations were surpassed, and any conference organizers would be lucky to have you speak at their event in the future.” Infosys
“…Sahar was a great success at our workshop in Stockholm last week. She did an excellent job of taking on our brief about “brand” and converging it with her own story. The result was fantastic and hit all the right notes.” IKEA
“I just wanted to drop you a quick line to thank you for the fantastic job you did last Thursday evening at the RecruitRank awards. We have had some tremendous feedback – both on the night and in follow up thank you notes. You hit exactly the right note and inspired a lot of the audience.” RecruitRank
“It was the best speech of the conference…You were very informative and maintained remarkable poise in the face of high level of delegation and audience…Your speech not only kept audience glued to their seats but also drew the delegates in and held their attention… … Please accept our thanks for delivering wonderful motivational speech.” 6th Middle East HR Conference & Expo
“…thank you for your invaluable contribution to the LDA Business Opportunities seminar…your inspirational speech on your experiences while setting up Coffee Republic really helped to highlight the entrepreneurial spirit of London…” London Development Agency
“Yesterday’s filming went very well and Sahar was incredibly patient which we really appreciated, plus she said some really interesting things…” NorthOne TV
“…never before have I seen a talk make such an impact on an entire audience. For two whole days and evenings they talked about almost nothing other than Sahar Hashemi, what she had to say, and how she said it. It was almost impossible to discuss anything else!” IAA World Congress
“…a quick email to say thank you to Sahar Hashemi for speaking at B2B Midlands earlier this week….Sahar was just perfect for our event and proved very popular.” B2B Midlands
“…the delegates (and the crew) thoroughly enjoyed her presentation so we are all very pleased.”
Brilliant Events on Sahar Hashemi who spoke at a RBS Conference
“…very many thanks for a brilliant and very inspirational talk last night.” The DTI
“she connected with the audience at an emotional level and made a lasting impression” Microsoft
“you were a hit” ROCHE
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