In 1995 Sahar Hashemi and her brother Bobby founded Coffee Republic, the UK’s first coffee bar chain. Within 5 years they built Coffee Republic into one of the UK’s most recognized high street brands with 110 bars and turnover of £30m.
Hashemi was a lawyer and her brother was an investment banker. They gave up their highly paid professional jobs and staked everything on a dream. They made Coffee Republic one of the main players in the ‘coffee revolution’ that transformed a nation of tea drinkers to one obsessed with ‘triple grande vanilla skinny lattes.’ How they came to build a nationwide coffee chain is a fascinating and inspirational tale of the ups and downs of following your dream.
Hashemi left the day-to-day management of Coffee Republic in 2001 and wrote a book about her journey of entrepreneurship, Anyone Can Do It – Building Coffee Republic from Our Kitchen Table. Anyone Can Do It has become the 2nd highest selling book ever published in the UK on entrepreneurship after Richard Branson’s book – according to Nielsen Bookscan. Hashemi believes that if she can make it as an entrepreneur, anyone can make it.
In 2005, she launched her new business Skinny Candy, a brand of sugar free confectionary, low-fat sweets and chocolates. Skinny Candy was sold to confectionery conglomerate Glisten PLC in 2007.
Her most recent book, Switched On, published in 2010, focuses on 8 habits that foster a more entrepreneurial mindset for employees. It is based on her experience of the transformation in culture when a small entrepreneurial company becomes big and successful, when the obvious and easy entrepreneurial habits are often forgotten as bureaucracy take over.
In 2011 Sahar was nominated by Director magazine as one of its Top 10 Original Thinkers. The magazine praised her view that “Entrepreneurially minded talent shouldn’t have to leave large corporations in order to achieve fulfillment. Entrepreneurial behaviour, including ideas like bootstrapping, prototyping and celebrating failure, can help turn stuffy corporations into creative environments. They can also transform automatons into valued, engaged employees”.
In 2011 she was invited to join the Entrepreneurs Forum set up by UK Business Secretary Vince Cable to give informal personal advice to the government on enterprise policies.
In June 2012 Sahar was awarded an OBE for services to the UK economy and to charity.
She was also awarded: Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Top 10 original thinkers by Director Magazine, ‘Pioneer to the Life of the Nation’ by her Majesty The Queen, 100 most influential women in Britain by Daily Mail, one of the 35 top women in British business by Management Today and 20 most powerful women in Britain by Independent on Sunday, Top 5 in a Shell Livewire survey of inspirational role models.