I decided to study Law and I went on to secure an Open University diploma but could not afford the tuition to proceed to Degree level. I started looking for something that would give me a real sense of satisfaction that I would have gotten from attaining a Law Degree, which I later realised I get from food.
I began my cleaning business after I had my second child. I had no capital to go all out so I looked at the resources around me and used them to start earning money. What I saw was a vacuum cleaner, a mop bucket, and a pair of gloves, so I loaded up my car, strapped my daughter on my back and went in search of people locally who might need a cleaner. I went house to house and just knocked on doors asking, “Is your house dirty? I can clean it for you. I’m available now.”
Most people liked the fact that I was knocking with availability. I was getting booked because a cleaner didn’t turn up, or they were unreliable, which is why I eventually called my business We Turn Up. Soon enough word spread, and my business grew. Eventually there was too much work for me to do alone so I started growing the team and the business went really well after that.
The idea for K’s Wors sausages came about around the same time. While I was earning money from my cleaning business, I was able to reinvest it into developing the recipe for K’s Wors boerewors. I used the money to buy my first sausage filler and my first chiller.
I experimented with flavours and recipes over the next two years to develop K’s Wors sausage into a shelf-ready product. Once I perfected the recipe and was happy with the flavours, I then began to develop K’s Wors brand and reach out of my comfort zone to get the business going.
In the early days of K’s Wors my whole family were involved in making sausages. All the production time, as well as the time building brand awareness and networking was so much that I sometimes questioned whether I’d made the right decision, but through the strength of the network I had built I was able to pull through. I joined local networking groups, signed up to work with The Growth Company in Manchester, got a mentor and joined the Natwest Entrepreneur Accelerator Program.
The next step was getting funding, which was very challenging. I believed in the product though and I refused to give up easily. I needed to develop the brand and get packaging sorted, which would be essential to get the products into retail. I went through a total of 19 unsuccessful applications for funding and it was when I started completing the 20th one that I began questioning when it was time to give up. Thankfully the Frederick’s Foundation helped me at the perfect moment, and I got the break I needed.
As well as the funding I secured, I also featured on a BBC series with the Frederick’s Foundation, A Matter of Life & Debt. I ended up on BBC One which was great exposure for the brand, and I was able to use that when speaking to retailers. Appearing on national television as I was pitching the products into retail helped the buyers believe in my products and the story behind the brand. I managed to secure a listing with the online giant supermarket Ocado.
Since then, K’s Wors has gone from strength to strength. I also had to trust the process and realise that I couldn’t do everything alone. Team members are essential, and my mindset needed to shift to see the greater goal. I now have an amazing production and quality team, as well as a Commercial Director, Marketing Manager, PR Team, Technical Manager and both co-founders are now being paid full time by the business.
Watch the Frederick’s Foundation episode below
During the pandemic, I appeared on the BBC TV Dragon’s Den where I faced the nation’s loved Dragons. Though things did not go accordingly, and I was rejected, I did not despair. Instead, I went back to my contact list and reached out to everyone until I landed a six-figure listing with Costco.
All of this has taught me that you must be strong and resilient. You’ll come across so many challenges and so many barriers to entry but that shouldn’t stop you. You need the ability to bounce back from every set back. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, if you don’t believe in your product and your dream, and you’re not resilient, it can be quite easy to just quit and walk away.
There’s no such thing as an overnight success story. Getting K’s Wors sausages onto Ocado took a lot of hard work, from developing the product, testing it for food safety to trialling it thoroughly at local festivals and markets. I invested a lot of time and money into branding, manufacturing, and networking, but we’ve now got a product and a business that I’m truly proud to have built.
At the end of the day, success is about resilience. It’s about passion. It’s about owning your story, and that can apply to anybody. Everybody needs resilience to be an entrepreneur or to overcome challenges, you need to be passionate about what you’re doing, and you need to own your story in order for people to believe you.
Without resilience I would never have put myself out there again and again. I wouldn’t have had the humility to ask my neighbours if they needed their house cleaned. If I had given up on my fifth, or even tenth funding application, I would not have gotten to where I am now. If I hadn’t turned up to networking events, worked on and perfected my pitch, hunted for buyers, and handed out samples until we secured the right meetings, my dream could have ended on my kitchen table.
You have to do what you have to do to achieve your goals. You can’t be afraid of hard work nor can you be shy. You have to be humble and just go for it.
I would like the next chapter in my story to be about inspiring the younger generation and women, particularly those from diverse backgrounds who are struggling to find role models from within their community. I’m very passionate about encouraging young people and women to see that if somebody, “who looks like you, sounds like you, has come from the same background as you, can go out there and achieve what seems to be an impossible dream, then so can you.”