Beautifully functional handbags for business women on the move.
Meticulously crafted in the finest materials available. Compliments are guaranteed.
How did it all begin?
Sarah was inspired to create the perfect handbag to ensure she was completely organised when on the move. She wanted to be confident and “look the part” in every situation. Whilst working full time as COO of a publicly listed company, she learned how to design and produce handbags herself. Following an apprenticeship with the ex Creative Director of Mulberry, Sarah designed the Dahlia. This beautifully functional tote bag soon became her every day bag and as friends and colleagues began requesting their own, the Sarah Haran brand was born.
What sets your business apart?
The Sarah Haran collection features unique “change up” functionality so that each handbag design can be customised to meet the specific needs of the customer. By day, the bags provide maximum functionality by organising your handbag contents, including space for a laptop and thoughtful interiors. The unique functionality also offers an easy ‘change out’ of one internal ‘content organiser’ for another, when a different daily activity is required. By night, the handbag can be transformed by detaching an internal/front clutch which can be used as a stylish evening bag. Such functionality helps women feel confident in any situation as we understand the challenges women can face day to day, especially in the workplace. We consistently receive 5 star feedback from our customers about our bags making their lives easier.
What is the concept behind your business or the problem you’re solving?
There are many handbag options currently available on the market from fast fashion to high end luxury. These options predominantly offer benefit choices across cost, quality, style and functionality. Each brand offers to meet one, two or occasionally three of these choices. The Sarah Haran concept offers all four benefits. This unique approach is targeting today’s modern, active women who wants beauty and function in one handbag. They want their handbag to be as individual as they are and remain stylish for every occasion. They also want quality but to pay a fair and reasonable price. With our unique bag-in-bag, day to night concept and functionality, women will be organised and feel empowered whatever they are doing. Our “change up” concept ensures women do not have to buy multiple handbags each year, they can simply update them. Our handbags are designed to work for you 24/7, in all situations, not just the office.
Where to next/What is your brand vision?
Sarah designed the perfect handbag to meet the day to day challenges of a career women on the move. One who appreciates quality, function and style. Sarah’s vision is to have a Sarah Haran handbag carried into every business boardroom or office in the UK.
What do you feel passionate about/what drives you?
When I started making handbags as a hobby I simply enjoyed designing handbags that were both beautiful and functional. I originally trained myself to make handbags and as my passion grew it turned into a career change that saw me start my brand. This passion has helped me confidently meet other women and understand how our bags can empower and give them confidence. I have become passionate about attending events and speaking about my journey so that I can offer a little bit of inspiration to other women.
Share an example of early life that has shaped you?
I lived overseas most of my early life and I learnt early on to be willing to learn new things and be flexible. I was travelling from a young age to boarding school and I think the experience of being at school, thousands of miles from my parents has made me very resilient. This experience has definitely shaped my life as I had to learn to adapt and become very self-sufficient early on.
Highlights of your business journey so far?
Highlights have been receiving the feedback from our customers, the 5 star endorsements and how we have changed the lives of our customers. Reaching our first year in business and achieving our sales goals has been a highlight, as well as being recognised for having a seriously excellent product by the Observer, The Guardian, Daily Mail You Magazine, Sunday Express, Marie Claire and Homes & Interiors, Good Housekeeping, and various online publications. It gives me confidence to keep pushing on!
Key lessons you have learned along the way?
I think a key lesson I have learned is to always be willing to be easy to do business with. There are so many opportunities out there and everyone approaches them differently but the lesson of being willing to listen, to take on advice and to provide an excellent service makes you easy to do business with. Not that you should roll over, but if the opportunity works for you then being open and honest and working to make it happen will help your business move forward.
Best piece of advice you have received?
Having been in business for over 30 years now, I have received much advice over the years. The one bit of advice that has always stayed with me is to always be easy to do business with. In my corporate role in IT this was particularly important, but I have found that making our brand easy to do business with means our customers receive a high quality experience. This has led to over 225 5-star reviews for our products with a net promoter score of +98%.
Advice to an aspiring entrepreneur or woman just starting her career?
Love what you do – you spend more time at work than anywhere else, so you must love it. Make yourself open and willing to think laterally and out of the box. Every day is a school day – be willing to constantly learn.
What funding route have you chosen for your business and why?
I am self-funded currently and believe this is the correct thing to do. I need to get my business to a level of success that will inspire others! When the time is right, I will look to raise funds.
Some of the challenges you have faced and how you overcame them?
In all the years I have been in business the biggest challenge is more often than not, sales and marketing. You can have the best product or service in the world but if you cannot sell it your business will not move forward. With Sarah Haran Accessories being a new business, our biggest challenge has been letting the market know we exist. Success is not overnight, but putting the effort in through a well thought out sales and marketing plan, and using feedback from our customers to hone the business, is how we have overcome this challenge.
Why is it important to support women-led business?
It is absolutely essential to support women-led businesses. Our future depends on getting as many women as possible in work creating businesses that fulfill their dreams and add to the economy. I think the future is now and women have so much to contribute. It’s our time!
My inspiration is...
My customers. Hearing their stories really inspires me to keep going!
My greatest fear is...
The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is...
Leaving a cushy, well-paid corporate job in a business I worked to create, to start something new!
Designer clothes that will probably outlive me and working out of hours on my business!
Mantra you live by?
Every day is a school day. Be prepared to learn.
Female role model?
My mother, Michelle Obama, Audrey Hepburn and Marie Curie.
Women-led brand you love?
There really are so many, but I think those that I have worked with stand out - Dai, Lily Blanche, Angel’s Share and Studio 10. All brilliant businesses that are led by women and working hard to make a difference in their chosen field.
Top productivity tool?
Slack and Google docs. Using these tools, I have worked with my team in their various locations.
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