Dragons’ Den has appointed crafting expert Sara Davies as its youngest ever Dragon at the age of 35.
The businesswoman, from Coundon in County Durham, will replace Jenny Campbell – who quit the series in February – on the 17th season of the BAFTA-nominated show when it airs on BBC Two this summer.
The entrepreneur is the founder of worldwide crafting company Crafter’s Companion, a retail business specialising in craft tools.
Newcomer: Dragons’ Den has appointed crafting expert Sara Davies as its youngest ever Dragon at the age of 35
The business, which Sara started from her bedroom at the University of York when she was 21, now has an annual turnover of £34 million a year and employs more than 190 staff.
She will join Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones, Tej Lalvani and Touker Suleyman as budding entrepreneurs try to convince the multi-millionaires to invest in their ideas.
Sara, who has a son, Olivier, with her husband Simon, said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted to join the other Dragons for the new series of the show.
‘I’ve always been very passionate about investing time in and sharing my expertise with other entrepreneurs and hopefully I’ll be able to help some of the contestants to really take their businesses to the next level.
Pose: Sara will join (L-R) Touker Suleyman, Deborah Meaden, Tej Lalvani and Peter Jones on the panel; Jenny Campbell (second left) quit the BBC Two show in February
‘I’ve been a fan of the show since it started, I was even invited to pitch on the show 13 years ago so it feels like I’ve come a full circle.
‘It wasn’t all that long ago when I was in the position of the contestants so I really feel like I will be able to relate to their stories and their journeys so far.
‘I understand the highs and lows of building a global business from the ground and taking that initial product idea all the way to market.
‘I’m looking forward to getting started and hopefully being introduced to some businesses that I can really get excited about.’
Beginnings: The business, which Sara started from her bedroom at the University of York when she was 21, now has an annual turnover of £34 million a year and employs more than 190 staff
Television: When Sara heard that a TV shopping channel was devoting part of its programme to card making, she begged for the chance to demonstrate her new Enveloper product
The mother-of-one described how she had a ‘lightbulb moment’ when she spent a spent a year working for a small company supplying products to the craft industry as part of her business degree.
‘All the other students were going to flash firms in London, but I’m a real homebody and was determined to stay in the North-East,’ she said.
‘I was dating Simon — we had met at 15 and didn’t want to be apart for a year. My tutors were furious when I chose this small company with eight employees, but it was my smartest move because I got involved in every aspect of the business. The experience was invaluable.’
It was then that Sara discovered a gap in the market – a product that could make envelopes of any size.
Discovery: Sara had discovered a gap in the market – a product that could make envelopes of any size
She said: ‘We sold 8,000 on the launch airing. My Enveloper was one of the most talked about products they’d ever had’
She says: ‘I’ve always been creative — I baked, knitted and crocheted with my mum and grandma. But I never made cards and I had no idea the market was so massive.’
Sara spent months poring over designs and making prototypes with her father, Frank, an engineer. Finally, she was ready to take her design, christened the Enveloper, to a local joiner who agreed to make a small batch from MDF.
And when she heard that a TV shopping channel was devoting part of its programme to card making, Sara begged for the chance to demonstrate her product.
She said: ‘We sold 8,000 on the launch airing. My Enveloper was one of the most talked about products they’d ever had. That was October 2005.
‘By Christmas, I had sold 30,000 — my poor joiner barely slept. I couldn’t believe it.’
Honour: Sara is the recipient of over 25 business awards and in 2016 she was recognised for services to the economy with an MBE on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list
Throwback: The new Dragons’ Den addition was just 21 when she discovered a gap in the market (Pictured with husband Simon)
Sara is the recipient of over 25 business awards and in 2016 she was recognised for services to the economy with an MBE on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The mother-of-one is no stranger to the small screen, having appeared on a number of shopping channels in the UK and USA, as well as hosting her own craft programme, Be Creative TV.
The businesswoman said she was ‘absolutely delighted’ to join the beloved BBC show for its seventeenth season.
Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, described the new addition as a ‘formidable business woman’.
He said: ‘Sara is a formidable business woman and I can’t wait to see her start in the Den’.
Throwback: Sara is mother to son Olivier, five, with husband Simon, 42