Ahead of the first date of her Crafting for Christmas tour, North East businesswoman, Dragon's Den dragon and Strictly star Sara Davies sat down for a chat - and spilt everything, from her secrets for investing to how her time on Strictly has shaped her business nous. 

She was keen to share her business instinct and advice - especially given the tough economic climate that business owners are facing up and down the country. "Positivity and determination" are driving forces behind Sara's continued business success, and she encouraged anyone else with entrepreneurial dreams to "keep positive and keep pushing - and always try to think out of the box". 

Sara explained: "The Dragon's Den businesses that I have been most impressed with in the last few years are ones that are novel and innovative - and have brought a new solution to the table."

Starting her business at the tender age of 21, Sara knows what it is like to swim against the current and defy expectations. She said: "When I joined the show, I was the youngest ever Dragon.

"One of my friends suggested I should apply, but I thought that I would have to be older before I applied. She convinced me that it was my experience, not my age, that mattered. Sometimes you just have to go for it!"

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Still, Sara played her cards close to her chest when it came to discussing her favourite businesses on Dragon's Den. As an investor, it must be like being asked to pick her favourite child. 

Sara said: "There have been so many cracking businesses that it is difficult to pick one. I had a preconception that I would only be into certain kinds of businesses because of my background in crafts.

"But my opinion has totally changed - it's the entrepreneurs that you fall in love with, not the products. You can be confident in backing a phenomenal entrepreneur with a mediocre product, but not the other way around."

There is a myriad of ways that Sara's TV career has changed her skills for business. 

For Sara, "Strictly was a huge learning curve - going in, I thought it was just a dancing competition, but it was a journey of self-discovery."

"There's no vulnerability in business, but you have to get comfortable getting vulnerable when you are leaving everything out on the stage in front of ten million people every Saturday.

"It changed the way I do business. In a similar way, when I had kids, I had a whole new level of compassion and respect for working parents."

The popular TV dance competition inspired Sara to embark on a tour, to push herself out of her comfort zone. She said: "Before going on the Strictly tour, I had never done any kind of stage performance but absolutely fell in love with it.

"The tour company told me I light up when performing. My niche is crafts - I have a craft business - and they thought that craft would be brill on stage."

"It just had to be around Christmas, too - when you think of festivities, you think of crafts - so the notion of Crafting for Christmas was born. My mum did loads of it with us when we were young, and I've carried that on with my boys. I have so many tips and tricks to impart.

"I'll cover everything from foraging, upcycling, making cards, wrapping pressies, and putting together tablescapes. - I take people through everything I do for Christmas. But really - there's a bit of everything in the show - from Strictly dancing to Dragon's Den gossip."

Read more: Sara Davies: Strictly and Dragons Den star to speak at BUSINESSiQ Awards

As a proud Northerner, Sara is particularly looking forward to the Northern dates of her tour. 

"We have more dates in the north than we have anywhere else - the North East gets behind their own! Hearing your home crowd chanting for you is a magical experience, and on this tour, I know how much I will enjoy those crowds. They're my tribe, my people. 

Sara's passion for championing business in the North is clear as soon as it comes up in conversation. In April, she will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural The Northern Echo BUSINESSiQ awards, which she says is a "huge privilege". 

"When it comes to business, representation and role modelling are so important so I always try to get involved with business associations and networks.

"Even though my business's biggest market is in America, but I could never leave the county, and will never even think about leaving the country. My business has created jobs in the North East, and I want to create prosperity in the region and for my people. 

Sara's tour begins on November 19, and runs until December 11. She will be in Newcastle on December 2, and Middlesbrough December 8. 

Sara will also be the keynote speaker at the first annual The Northern Echo BUSINESSiQ Awards in April 2023, which is set to be the premier event in the North East business calendar. 

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