A star of BBC hit business programme Dragons' Den has revealed she is set to invest an extra £500k into her Newton Aycliffe-based business.

Whilst giving a talk to the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs from her home region, Sara Davies MBE let students into her half-a-million pound investment plans.

The TV business guru and founder of multi-million-pound global enterprise Crafter’s Companion told pupils in Newcastle of her plans to be the ultimate ‘voice of authority’ on crafting.

The County Durham-born Strictly star, who famously set up her craft venture from her university bedroom at just 21 years old, said Crafter’s Companion will invest £500,000 in technology to bolster Sara’s presence online.

Her Newton Aycliffe-based business turned over £37.8m and currently employs more than 200 people at sites in the North East and across the world.

Read more: Strictly and Dragons Den star Sara Davies supports Spennymoor

Sara explained: “If you want to learn how to make a Victoria sandwich and search recipes online you choose the Mary Berry one because you trust that if she says it’s the best, then it’s the best. 

“When people want to learn about craft and start searching online, I want to be that voice of authority. I want to be the Mary Berry of the crafting world!”

She shared her vision with a 250-strong audience at Dame Allan’s Schools as she gave an inspirational lecture about her own transformative schooldays and her ‘drive, determination and passion’ to succeed.

The Northern Echo: Sara Davies MBE and pupils at Dame Allan’s Schools (L-R) Jagdeep Singh, Gursahib Singh, Drew Slater and Sophia BlairSara Davies MBE and pupils at Dame Allan’s Schools (L-R) Jagdeep Singh, Gursahib Singh, Drew Slater and Sophia Blair (Image: Crest Photography)

Gracing our television screens as the youngest-ever female investor to join BBC One’s Dragons’ Den and having danced her way to week seven on Strictly Come Dancing in 2021, Sara’s come a long way from her humble beginnings as a self-described ‘middle of the road student’ at St John’s School and Sixth Form College, in Bishop Auckland.

“I’ve got where I have because of my mindset,” she told pupils at the Fenham-based independent school. “If you meet anyone who knows me – people who do business with me, the other Dragons -  and you ask them to sum me up in a couple of words, the first word to come out of anybody’s mouth is ‘driven’.”

With a fax machine and printer set up in her student bedroom, Sara famously set up Crafter’s Companion in 2005 during her fourth year at the University of York. The venture made its first million within two years and Sara achieved a first-class business degree.

Read more: Dragon's Den and Strictly star Sara Davies reveals business secrets

Today, Crafter’s Companion, based in Newton Aycliffe, manufactures and supplies crafting products including card, stamps, cutting tools and sewing essentials. In the last financial year, the global business turned over £37.8m and currently employs hundereds.

“That final year at university was a blur,” Sara said, looking back. “If ever I feel now that I’m busy, I think back to that year and I don’t know how I got through it; I had such a drive to prove I could succeed.

“When you’ve got the drive, you can do absolutely anything. I was never the smartest person in the room, I wasn’t even at the halfway mark, but I had more drive in abundance than every other person, and that’s what made the difference. I worked at full capacity, and always believed there was that little bit more in the tank.”

Sara, who was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to the economy, was invited to talk at Dame Allan’s as part of the Schools’ lecture programme aimed to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, business leaders and creative minds.

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Jagdeep Singh, a Year 12 pupil from South Shields studying Business, Economics and Maths at A Level, said: “Sara's lecture was truly inspiring, I could listen to her speak for hours! Drive seemed to be the focus of her presentation, with Sara proving her doubters wrong and reaching her goals.”

Principal Will Scott said: “It was an honour to welcome Sara to Dame Allan’s and hear her talk about the importance of her own defining schooldays to a captivated audience. These lectures aim to raise the aspirations of our pupils and I’m in no doubt that Sara’s clear drive, determination and passion– and of course her incredibly successful career – will have inspired all those who attended.”

Sara will appear on television screens in spring as a judge on BBC’s brand-new wedding-themed show, Master of Ceremonies, alongside First Date’s favourite Fred Sirieix.