Through The Glass Ceiling
She went from coffee innovator to candy creator and is also a successful writer and public speaker of great renown. But as Cristina Jaleru discovered, Sahar Hashemi is one woman who thinks glass ceilings are there to be broken.
Sahar had left a career in law to pursue this business dream without any prior knowledge of retail, management or even coffee for that matter. But asked if making a success of business is harder for a woman she is adamant:“We very much create our own glass ceilings but it’s about pushing through them. Certainly in this country it would be a very sad thing if a woman couldn’t get ahead or could only get ahead if there was a man to support her.”
She does, however, admit that all her business ventures and ideas come from issues she struggles with – in this case maintaining a trim figure.“Weight has been always something on my mind. So I tried to do something to get rid of all the guilt. It’s a great place to start from, a business providing what you need yourself.”
From skimmed milk lattes she moved into sugarless sweets in her latest project, Skinny Candy, a company addressing the problems of millions of women who have a sweet tooth they want to indulge occasionally without a sugar overload.
Sahar abandoned her first baby, Coffee Republic, after about five or six years because she got bored. But Skinny Candy she wants to see growing up, having been born in 2005. “It takes so long to get a brand up and running and I’ve got a great partner now, so I am looking forward to a longer journey,” she says
Her book ‘Anyone can do it’ is about finding your voice and the strength in yourself to succeed.
“It happened to be cathartic and therapeutic at that time in my life. I was also in a period between careers, and didnt know what to do and that was it. It took me one year. I hate writing but it was a real labour of love.”And it’s written with such gusto, conviction, business acumen and common sense, that it’s on a reading list at London School of Economics. They say that those who can’t, teach but Sahar defies this adage. She speaks at motivational events around the country. Encouraging audiences to work for themselves and put the fun back into work.
She is a firm believer in enjoying what you do and doing what you enjoy. As for the qualities that brought success, it seems to be the old 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration recipe. Hard work and perseverance are highest on her list. Time management too.
"If you want something done, give it to a busy person” she insists between taking phone calls.
And yet there’s one thing missing so far from this equation - family.
“I just haven’t met the right person, it’s not a question of lacking spare time.”And she has no qualms about being able to manage that balancing act in the future. It’s all about confidence, passion and being prepared to work at it- sounds very Sahar Hashemi.
Perhaps that’s another book….Cristina Jaleru