From Finance to Entrepreneurship

Sarah Jones was in her mid-twenties when she set up Sprii, an e-commerce platform that retails everything for moms. Here she chats about her successful journey and being a mom to 1-year old Willow

Sarah Jones is in a flowy polka dot dress, sneakers, and running behind Willow, her 1-year old daughter, when we arrive at her home in Downtown Dubai. The yummy mummy moved here to dive into the world of finance with her first job in the Middle East. She soon found herself spotting gaps in the e-commerce market, a
void she knew she had to fill. “After four years undertaking a degree in Economics at Edinburgh University, I secured a position at Deloitte London in the retail M&A team and seconded out to the Middle East a few years later,” she says. After arriving in the sandpit, Sarah managed to spot the gap, secure funding and launch – the online site providing everything for mums. “I adore my day job and my team and now feel like I’m definitely in the right role – not only am I doing what I love in the world of e-commerce, but we’re also helping to make mummies lives easier.”

The leap into the world of e-commerce wasn’t new to Sarah. At the tender age of 14, Sarah was bitten by the business bug and set up an eBay business importing items from across the globe, to sell in the UK. “I think deep down if you end up being an entrepreneur, you were born with it in your DNA. For me, it wasn’t about making money, it was about “doing business” and from a very young age I loved the thrill of buying and selling.” But how did she switch careers? Prior to Sprii, Sarah worked in Mergers & Acquisitions and came across a businesses in the e-commerce space, however in the “Mums” vertical there were limited options and a lack of availability of international products in the Middle East online. “We launched an authentic experience from start to finish – excellent navigation on the website, the widest product offering at competitive prices and an incredible customer service team who always go above and beyond. This wasn’t being done by anyone else,” says Sarah. The word Sprii was derived from the term shopping spree. “We couldn’t afford the “ee” so went for the “ii” instead,” she laughs and tells me. Having your own business ‒ baby or no baby ‒ is hard work. “You need to love what you do because you’re mentally always “on” when it’s yours. You need to be ambitious and resilient and happy to ride the roller-coaster that is setting up and scaling a business.” Flexibility is an element most women like to focus on. The fact that you can drop your child to nursery or school, pack lunches, come home and play after work, but Sarah tells us in all honesty, she works just as hard as she did before giving birth. “I love Sprii, I love going to work everyday and feel so fulfilled when I come home, and then love my weekends with my family. For me, this balance works.”

Little Willow is busy playing peek-a- boo while we chat, trying to run away from the camera yet intrigued enough to stare back at the lense with her stunning big blue eyes. At this point,

I’m intrigued to know what 24 hours in Sarah’s life is like? “Wake up, tea and breakfast and then playtime with my daughter ‒ normally banging on a xylophone with her! ‒ or pushing her around the house on her pink car. Off to work for a full day of meetings 9am- 8pm and then head to paddle tennis or dinner with my husband or friend before bed! I’m not very good at sitting still,” she replies. Obviously being your own boss means there are a few challenges or disadvantages, especially when you have to split time between your child, home life and work. “Being an entrepreneur means being switched on 24/7 – there’s no off button and as anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m never off my phone! For your business to succeed, you have to give it your all – it’s a necessary sacrifice. Balancing a baby and Sprii is only possible because I have an amazing support network at home.”

As for challenges while the business was in its infancy, Sarah says she naturally came across loads. “Growing a business, hiring top talent, operating quite literally from your dining table, fundraising, securing the first few brands, scaling revenue – it’s really tough at the beginning but also incredibly exciting seeing something grow from the offset.” Overtime though, Sarah has learnt she can’t please everyone and it isn’t her job to try to. “Balance for everyone is different, so it’s what works for you. For me it’s working hard during the week and trying to switch off at the weekends.” Her advice for other moms looking to become their own boss? “Choose a business and industry you’re passionate about. Don’t expect it to be an easy ride, and know that it will be incredibly challenging and fulfilling.”


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