I started a business with kids: Sarah Cooper of Black Zest Solutions

My name is Sarah Cooper and I am the Director of Black Zest Solutions, a marketing and design agency aimed at providing strategic marketing consultancy, idea generation and graphic design solutions. The organisation was launched in September 2010 discovering the need for innovative, up to date marketing advice, focused on creativity.

We also offer website design in Lancaster and the surrounding areas, aiming to use state of the art technologies to make a business stand out from the crowd.

My business you might say is far from crazy and outlandish however, the story of how I got there was far from normal!

At the age of 14 I fell pregnant with my first child whilst still at school studying my GCSE’s. This was definitely a low point in my life.

It was the moment when someone turned around to me and said I had failed, they said I’d be lucky if I achieved my GCSE’s and that they UNDERSTOOD! It was at this moment I realised that I would never let my situation hold me back.

From that day forward I was determined to achieve my dreams.

I attended Lancaster University and studied Marketing Management gaining a 1st class honours degree and I’m also currently undertaking a Masters in digital marketing communications part time, to ensure I keep my knowledge up to date.

I set up Black Zest Solutions in September 2010, with the aim of creating myself a full time job to support my family. Within 3 months of trading I had turned over £7,000 and realised the potential of the services I was offering.

Now I am working in the business full time, have a number of high profile clients including; Lancaster University – LUSU Involve, CancerCare and William Hare and I have a real passion for what I do. I believe that my awareness of emerging technologies alongside studying a part time masters in digital marketing communications, enables me to offer fresh up to the minute ideas to drive a business forward.

I often say to people that the day I had my son was the best mistake I’ve ever made in my life. It gave me a motivation above myself to achieve my dreams and gave me the drive to set up my business.

What I have realised is that setting up a business and juggling the stresses and strains of being a mum is far from easy. Getting the balance right between work and home is not a straight road but with a lot of late nights and even more hard work, you can end up loving your job, having time to spend with your family and the money to enjoy life.

My top tips:

– Don’t be afraid of hard work! Many people set up a business seeing other “mumprenours” succeeding. You need to be prepared to work long hours, give up your social life and be 100% committed.

– Being a Mumprenour is like being a juggler. You have to have many different hats on all at the same time. A mum, a housekeeper, a friend, a business women and sometimes a mediator! You need to learn to juggle a child on your hip, stir a pan of spag bol, whilst speaking to the CEO of an international company and still be able to sound professional!

Sarah is currently shortlisted for two awards and would love it if you could vote for her. The links to the awards are:
http://enterprisevisionawards.co.uk/new_business.php http://enterprisevisionawards.co.uk/inspirational_woman.php
Just click on one (or both) to vote. Thanks!

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