[S]ally Fielding, owner of Cumbrian holiday cottage letting company Sally’s Cottages, is in the running for more silverware after making the shortlist in this year’s Barclays North West Women in Business Awards.
The awards are aimed at recognising the region’s top female talent and companies that have made an outstanding contribution to business.
In her submission, Sally explained how Sally’s Cottages has come a long way since launching 15 years ago with just one property and £1,000 in the bank. The business has been built on grit, determination and hard work, starting out with Sally doing everything from answering emails to cleaning cottages and building its first website. Today, it has a portfolio of more than 470 cottages, has grown at a steady rate of about 20 per cent year on year and recently invested £250,000 on a new, bespoke website.
Sally believes that much of the success is down to the family-run, independent company leading the way in the holiday cottage letting industry.
She said: “We were the first to take online bookings, the first to harness the power of social media and we plan to be the first to encourage the likes of Alexa to recommend our cottages when asked.
“In an industry increasingly dominated by private equity, we can take a great deal of responsibility for raising the profile of the Lake District, and Cumbria as a whole, through our incredibly popular use of Facebook, and we have increased the skills and salaries of our local, loyal employees.”
This latest accolade – in the Woman of the Year SME Business Award category – comes on the back of several honours last year, including regional and national gongs from Forward Ladies in the SME Growth category, best small leisure and tourism business in the Cumbria Family Business Awards and silver for Best UK Holiday Cottage and Self Catering Booking Company in the British Travel Awards.
Mum-of-three Sally, who grew up in Eskdale, said she was proud to show to other women that it is possible to have it all.
She added: “I’ve built the business while starting a family. It’s not easy – I took just two days off after having babies, but they came to work with me in the early days.
“I’ve also shown women that you can succeed in building a business in a man’s world dominated by private equity. I’ve proved you can be a feminist but still enjoy jumping off a jetty in sparkly golden hotpants for a photoshoot and I have shown that if you believe in yourself you can make it work.”
It is the second year of the Barclays-sponsored awards, following a successful launch in 2017. Shortlisting was supported by the University of Central Lancashire and the winners will be revealed at an exclusive awards lunch at Tatton Park, Cheshire, in July.
Karen Johnson, head of large corporates for Barclays in the North West, said: “Women from all sectors across the region are securing key roles in businesses and we want to recognise exceptional achievements for the contribution they are making.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to bring together the business community from across the region to share knowledge and ideas, helping to grow the north west economy.”