Sarah, who runs Simply Bows and Chair Covers near Hexham, picked up the award at the NatWest Everywoman Awards, now in its 13thyear, which celebrate business excellence amongst female entrepreneurs.
The 44 year old was singled out from hundreds of business women from across the country and collected her award at the Dorchester Hotel in London. Judges for this year’s award included Cath Kidston MBE and Chrissie Rucker MBE, founder of the White Company.
Sarah beat off competition to pick up the award in the ‘Aphrodite’ category which recognises women who founded their businesses whilst raising children aged 12 or under.
Simply Bows and Chair Covers manufactures and hires luxury table linen and chair décor to an extensive client base in the wedding and event sector including hotels, corporate bodies and private requests.
Sarah set up her company in 2008 to save her home from being repossessed and create financial stability for her and her son, William, now 16.
At the time, Sarah was bringing up her son on her own and had been declared bankrupt following the collapse of the events business she had been working for during the recession.
Sarah decided to set up her own company, realising a gap in the market for high quality event linen after her brother’s wedding. She then applied for a government-funded grant enabling her to create a website, purchase a commercial vehicle and make samples of her chair décor and table linen. In the first year alone, Sarah delivered 88 weddings and turned over £79,000.
Now, Simply Bows and Chair Covers dresses events all over the UK through its franchise network of 11 offices. Sarah herself runs theSouth Durham and Teesside franchise working with leading hotels such as Seaham Hall, Headlam Hall, Doxford Hall and Wynyard Hall to name just a few.
Speaking about her award, Sarah said: “I’ve really had to fight to get where I am today but I’ve enjoyed every second of- you have to otherwise you couldn’t do it. I have a fantastic network of suppliers and clients in the North East as well as superb franchisees all over the UK.
“I’ve gone from claiming income support to reaching a turnover of close to £1 million, much of which is re-invested back into the business itself. But this award is for my family, my friends and the franchisees who are all part of this. I don’t think I am anything special. Of course I am proud of my business but, ultimately, I am a mum who wants a good life for her family and I will work as hard as I have to to do that.”
Sarah Pittendrigh set up Simply Bows and Chair Covers in 2008 and now has a franchise network operating from Aberdeen to South Wales and into Essex and Berkshire.
Sarah’s latest figures show that this year has been the company’s most successful to date with all franchises seeing an increase in the number of events completed.
Simply Bows and Chair Covers this year celebrates its seventh year in business and, since its launch, has completed over 7000 weddings and events and has fitted more than 250,000 chair covers nationwide.
Simply Bows and Chair Covers’ franchisees have also enjoyed high profile success with the Lancashire franchisee, Joanne Smith, dressing the wedding of the character Tracey Barlow in Coronation Street, after producers contacted her having seen one of her events and invited her to be part of the high profile storyline. And Kimberley Gosden, who runs the Essex office, dressed actor Gary Lucy’s wedding at the 5 star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London.
The business has preferred supplier status at hotels all over the UK including Seaham Hall, Doxford Hall and Eshott Hall in the North East, Swinton Park and Rudding Park in North Yorkshire, Donnington Hotel and Spa, Berkshire and Carnoustie Golf Hotel and Spa near Dundee, to name but a few.