Sahar Hashemi OBE
Founder of Coffee Republic and Skinny Candy
Sahar Hashemi founded Coffee Republic, the UK’s first US style coffee bar chain with her brother and built it into one of the UK’s most recognised high street brands with 110 bars and a turnover of £30m.
Giving up professional careers (she as a lawyer in London and Bobby as an investment banker in New York) they staked everything on a dream and made Coffee Republic one of the main players in the coffee revolution that transformed the UK high street.
Sahar left the day-to-day management of Coffee Republic in 2001 and published a bestselling book Anyone Can Do It – Building Coffee Republic from Our Kitchen Table, which has been translated into six languages and is the second-highest selling book on entrepreneurship after Richard Branson.
In 2005 she founded Skinny Candy, a brand of sugar free sweets, labeled ‘hip’ by Vogue magazine. Skinny Candy was sold to confectionery conglomerate Glisten PLC in 2007.
Sahar’s most recent book, Switched On, published in 2010, focuses on eight 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, alongside Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Jonathan Ive. 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, Sahar 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.