Sapphire Bates is the business owner who doesn’t believe in competition. Sounds crazy, right?
Earlier this year, Lemon – a group of girls graduating university – decided to start up our own business. We had no idea what we were doing, but we had each other. We powered through and, after nearly six months, we’ve figured it out. We got lucky. Yet, most women going out on their own are doing literally that. They’re on their own.
That’s where The Coven comes in. Sapphire Bates came up with the idea for The Coven because she was bored of seeing women in similar industries be fearful of one another:
“Being bitchy to other people comes down to being scared of those who are doing something similar – whether or not people like to admit it. Really, this is what it comes down to – the fear that they’re gonna do better than you. I really believe we’re stronger when we’re together.
“I’m bored of bitchiness, basically. I wanted to start a campaign to get people spreading the love.”
After running her own business, The Flower Arranger, for two years, Sapphire realised the hardest part of it all was simply working alone.
“I spend so many days by myself, working alone. I was always asking myself ‘who’s going to make this decision? Oh, me I guess.’ I felt really lonely”.
Her solution? Connecting with other women who also run businesses on their own.
“I just thought about how nice it would be to have a community that brings all these women together, and gives people support all at once,” says Sapphire.
‘Community Over Competition’ is The Coven’s mantra. “The main aim is to make as many women feel supported as possible, but also encourage women to not be fearful of other women in the industry.”
Even though her own experiences with running a business haven’t been the easiest – “you wake up each day and you’re either completely in love with it, or you hate it. It’s like a set of scales – you’re always flipped on one side or the other. You’re never perfectly balanced.”
She loves the business side of things more than most, and for Sapphire, sharing her knowledge whilst providing support for other new business owners is rewarding.
Before she started The Flower Arranger (becoming the first florist to not actually like flowers – her words, not ours) she did a lot of ‘random stuff.’ This includes getting kicked out sixth form and accidentally running away to Thailand.
“I originally wanted to be a doctor, but as you can imagine getting kicked out of school was a massive disappointment to my parents. I studied fashion and retail for a while, working in Primark for a bit folding t-shirts. That was fun (I said that sarcastically, it definitely wasn’t fun).
“After dabbling in recruitment, then media, I basically couldn’t find anything I liked. My mum – who’s an angel – told me someone was looking for some help in a florist. She said: ‘you can just go and do some paid work experience and see if you like it’.
“After two and a half years I quit. I couldn’t agree on a new contract, so I left.”
After backpacking in Thailand, Sapphire settled but started running out of money.
“My bank balance was slowly going down, and it was just one of those things in the back of my mind where I was like ‘shit, I’ve actually quit my job’. I decided that I was gonna work for myself. And that was it.”
She started The Flower Arranger, and then The Coven was launched in June this year.
The range of businesses signing up to Sapphire’s mentor-ship is phenomenal. From bloggers, vintage clothing floggers, false nail designers, and wellness groups, to vegan bakers, furniture makers, and event planners – it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in to give and receive a lil’ support.
Sapphire says, “It’s not about people who have a massive Instagram following, or massive amounts of money in the bank… it’s just women who are successful in their own way, and who are doing some really cool stuff.”
So, if you’re looking for a place to help you run your business – no matter what it is – have a look at The Coven. It may surprise you.