Sally Fielding is founder and director of Sally’s Cottages, a holiday cottage lettings agency based in Cumbria, the Lake District with 475 cottages to let.
Sally started the business with just £1,000 to invest in it 15 years ago. Holiday cottage bookings totaled £8million last year. She attributes the success of the business to energy, determination and hard work.
Sally has shown that you can do it all. She built the business while starting a family. She took just two days off after having babies – they came to work with her in the early days. She has also shown that you can build a business in a man’s world dominated by private equity. She has shown that you can be a feminist but still enjoy jumping off a jetty in sparkly golden hotpants for a photoshoot. She has shown that if you believe in yourself, you can make it work.
There are so many strong women in the North who just get on with it, without a fuss, without recognition, without even thinking about the fact that they are totally awesome. Northern Power Women forces us to take a step away from the day-to-day for a moment and really recognise the contribution that these women make to society.
I’m proud to have created a multi-million-pound company out of £1,000. Even today, the only material goods we own are our computers, desk and office. When visitors buy from us, they’re buying a dream, a chance to stay somewhere for a while. It is the sheer energy of everyone who works with us that makes this possible.
I’m proud of the fact that even though we’re small, we have far reaching tentacles. Village pubs survive because new guests use them every week (whereas locals would buy meals less frequently), it’s the same story with village shops. Other local people have set up cleaning, photography, copy-writing and maintenance businesses off the back of ours. It’s wonderful.
There seems to be an age old assumption that if you want to achieve, you have to do this down South. This becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy as potential high achievers then feel they have to move South in order to further their career, which means that it takes more effort to build a Northern business full of amazing people as everyone has gone down South.
Fortunately not everyone moves down South. Just the knowledge that there are totally inspiring people working hard in the North can be enough to encourage other awesome people to stay.
The more we showcase Northern talent, the better we can attract additional talent, creating a culture of creativity and energy, where people can work in fields that interest them.