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 a turnover of £30m.
Giving up her career as a lawyer in London, she staked everything on a dream – and made Coffee Republic one of the main players in the ‘coffee revolution’ that transformed a nation of tea drinkers into one obsessed with ‘triple decaf half-café lattes.
Sahar left the day-to-day management of Coffee Republic in 2001 and published a bestselling book called ‘Anyone Can Do It- building Coffee Republic from our kitchen table’' which has been translated into 6 languages and is 2nd highest selling book on entrepreneurship after Richard Branson’s book.
Her Majesty The Queen and Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos named Sahar ‘Pioneer to the life of the nation’. Daily Mail and 35 top women also named her one of 100 most influential women in Britain in British business by Management Today. In a Shell Livewire survey of inspirational role models Sahar was among the top 5 along with James Dyson and Dame Anita Roddick. She has been on the cover of Director Magazine, Management Today, Observer Magazine, New Business Magazine, Business 550 and Voyager.
In 2005 Sahar started Skinny Candy, a high profile brand of sugar free sweets, which she sold to confectionery conglomerate Glisten Plc. in 2007.
In 2017, Sahar is appointed as the co-chair of UK Government's The Scale-Up Taskforce alongside Small Business Minister Margot James. The taskforce is launced as part of the government's Industrial Strategy and is focused on helping high growth businesses reach their potential at home and overseas. She is also currently a member of the advisory board for the Fashion Trust, which is part of the British Fashion Council.
Sahar is also back in the coffee world and is involved in Change Please Coffee. It is a disruptive coffee brand that recruits staff from local homeless shelters, trains and hires them as baristas to run their coffee carts around London. The brand's aim is to compete with well known high street coffee brands by offering customers something none of them can - a chance to change someone’s life.
Her most recent book ‘Switched On: 10 Habits to Being Highly Effective in Your Job, and Loving it ’ about entrepreneurial mindset for employees was published in March 2010. Sahar says, "The future is all about being entrepreneurial in the employee context. You need to bring your whole personality – not just the ‘professional’ you - to work. Move outside your comfort zone, ignite your innate creativity and forget the ‘this is how we’ve always done things’ mentality. Don’t fear failure, fear complacency. You need to see having fun as an essential part of professional success. Living and making a living should be the same thing."
In 2011 Sahar was nominated by Director magazine as one of the Top 10 Original Thinkers, alongside individuals such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and Jonathan Ives, Vice-President of Design at Apple and designer of the iPod. It praised her view that, “Entrepreneurially minded talent shouldn't have to leave large corporations in order to achieve fulfillment. Entrepreneurial behavior, 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 Minister Vince Cable to give advice to the government on enterprise and business policies. She currently sits on the Consumer Council of EON UK Plc.
In June 2012 Sahar was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honor’s list “for services to the UK economy and to charity”.
An internationally recognized speaker, Sahar’s captivating and uplifting speeches are unique as she converges her own enthralling ‘story’ with key themes of change management and employee engagement. By telling her very personal journey, she connects with the audience on an emotional level and brings to life the passion, determination and open mindedness needed to succeed. She makes a strong impact, igniting the audience with a ‘can do’ spirit and the tools and habits to ‘make it happen’.