The #SBSEvent2022

Well I don't know where to start but my first #SBS event was end to end incredible.

Winning Theo Paphitis's Small Business Sunday back in August 2021 was such an incredible experience that I didn't think much could top it.

Being invited as a winner to the event itself was not only an honour, but being there at the #SBSEvent2022 was truly inspiring.

Arriving in Birmingham the evening before I made sure I had my bag of sample goodies ready, my dress ironed and my business cards packed in my bag. My bag was designed and created by a good friend and fellow small business owner Rebekah of Taylor-Mayde (go check out her page)!

I met up with fellow #SBSWinner Michelle, The Kitchen Witch, in the hotel and it was nice to put faces to business names, and it was good to know who to look out for when arriving.

Getting to the ICC in the morning was so exciting - I stayed not even two minutes walk away so I knew I wouldn't get lost! There was a few people milling about when we went in and as we went upstairs I became even more excited.

We got registered and given our lanyards, our identifiers for when networking and I was spotting fellow winners who I have been talking to online for several months. It felt surreal to finally be there, meeting face to face with some incredible business people. Walking in the auditorium made it all so real!

Before the whole thing began we had some time to network, refreshments and had the amazing Capriccio Quartet playing some beautiful music. I took the opportunity to wander around and see who I could find and met PostnBake, saw Dylan of Aqua Design Group, Amanda and Sarah of The Perfect Touch of Home and of course Ian of Lawn Master Nottingham. Most of the time I was taking in everything around me.

I had a one-to-one meeting with SumUp which was really good. I learned some things I didn't know about what I could be doing just with the App on my phone. I took away some useful information and I am glad I took the opportunity to apply for a face to face.

Soon enough it was time for the day to really begin - we took our seats and got our very own SBS notebooks to make notes in. I had to go for the bright orange one of course! We took some snaps of the four of us sat together (Myself, Michelle and then Ian of ClocksnCandles and his beautiful SBS Fiance Victoria of JuteAdoreHamper) [check out the video montage at the end for 3 special photos that made me laugh so much].

It was time for the on stage talks from some incredible people... First up was Kypros Kypiranu, he got us "warmed up" as Theo called it! Then the man himself was up on stage talking about how he started SBS from his kitchen after his discovery of Twitter, teaching us that after over 450,000 entries over the 11 years that we are just a tiny 0.8% of that who actually win - that felt amazing to hear!

Rachel Watkyn from Tiny Box Company was up next, one of Theo's first investments on Dragon's Den and what an true inspiration! To learn that most of the people in the room were all feeling the same, we had all started at the same place and at one point or another were hitting the same barriers. It was nice to know this is where these multi-million companies have been too - we are all small scale businesses with dreams... We need to keep those dreams alive and dream BIG! Our journey is the same no matter how slow, or how big...

The next speaker, and probably the one that resonated with me more was Debbie Lewis of NatWest. Talking about mindset and our own ability to change our way of thinking. We are all guilty of not believing in ourselves and learning how to change from a "I can't do that!" to a "I can't do that YET!"

When Debbie asked us to close our eyes and one of her team would tap one of us on our shoulder and invite us on stage to speak for 60 seconds about our business, the atmosphere of the room was decidedly changed. But, it was all a trick... Honestly though, I would have got up there and talked about my business because its what I love to do. If you're passionate about something, you'd rave about it right?

It was time for lunch and time for us to network and meet our fellow SBS winners. We could get our head shots taken, we could go on the 360 experience, have our break out sessions.

I went around popping my sample bags on the networking tables and watched as they slowly but surely got picked up and taken away while I was queuing. I had my head shots taken and felt like I was in another world.

Usually being a small business trying to work alongside with the corporate giants can be a lonely place but in that room I felt like I had friends and family behind me, every step of the way. It was great to be able to hear that other people feel exactly the same way as I do sometimes. When we got asked if we had ever suffered from imposter syndrome the amount of hands that shot up was a moment of clarity - I believe about 60% (if not more) of us had our hands up.

Soon enough it was time for Theo to get back up on stage and introduce his fellow Dragon's Den star, Touker Suleyman.

The fireside chat was enlightening and very interesting. Learning about how and why Touker started, the story behind his business life is incredible. A true inspiration knowing how far he has come.

Soon enough the fireside chat was over, but I came away thinking I have gained so much more insight, I feel empowered by these business people who quite frankly are just like me! I walked away feeling like I could start to see things better and had so many ideas for my business. Notes taken and put in my bag, we started the queue for our award photo with the main man!

For saying we had been in the same room practically all day, it was only while in the photograph queue that I met with people who I've connected with through our Twitter chats! It was lovely to meet Rachel of Oceanpony Crafts and Purdey of MyTingTang Shampoo. It didn't take long before I was stood in front of Theo handing him his very own Rainbow Star bath bomb, the one that I used in my tweet when I won in the first place - that felt amazing in itself and he seemed chuffed to have his very own bath bomb!

Sadly all too soon the event was over and it was time to collect our goody bags - I loved mine so much and I am even using the bag every day at the day job! Packed with goodies from tech to pens I was so impressed with everything.

The day ended on another high though as I finally found some of our local Derby/Derbyshire winners after the event! Sarah of Sarah Perkins Art, Jyoti of Crafty Glass Studio and Diana of China Petals. We had a coffee and a chat before they had to head off to drive home. There were more Derbyshire winners at the event but I didn't get to meet them unfortunately.

So, in all the day was packed with information, inspiring and motivating talks, great food, amazing small businesses, and the chance to do it all over again next year - how wonderful!

A massive thank you to everyone who makes this possible every year, Theo Paphitis himself, and the event sponsors, Ryman, Robert Dyas, DHL, AutumnFair, NatWest, iLaw, Western Union, HP and SumUp. Here's to the next 12 months of business!!

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