“At the end of the day, Christmas is about family. It’s about being together with the people you love,” says Sara Davies as she sits down with Nicole Wood to discuss all things Christmas, crafts, career success and family traditions…
When I say ‘Christmas is the most wonderful time of year’, I truly mean and believe it. For some, Christmas comes with stress, pressure and worry. But for me, Christmas is so much more than the perfect turkey and gifts under the tree. It’s a feeling and everything about the season fills me with joy. Christmas crafts, festive flicks, iconic songs, twinkling lights, good deeds, quality time together and cheese boards in abundance; I simply wish we could all go back to basics and embrace what Christmas should be about.
Renowned as the ‘Christmas Queen’, when I heard about Sara Davies’ new craft book, I knew it would fill my little elf heart with joy. Sara Davies, like me, is very much a lover of the true meaning of Christmas. When the opportunity presented itself to catch up with Sara over our love of all things Christmas, a coffee date was immediately booked in. Business meets creativity for Sara Davies MBE, a business mogul, TV celebrity, and crafting aficionado, who has been making waves on both sides of the Atlantic.
A woman of many talents, Sara is not only the youngest-ever female investor on BBC One’s Dragons’ Den, but also the visionary founder and creative director behind the global crafting empire, Crafter’s Companion. With an empire spanning 40 countries and offices in the US and UK, she has managed to merge her passion for crafting with a keen business acumen, proving that creativity can indeed flourish in the world of business.
Craft Your Year With Sara Davies
There’s simply no stopping Sara Davies. She’s a woman on a mission and her latest venture is going to put smiles on the faces of many creative folk this Christmas. ‘Craft Your Year With Sara Davies’ is a delightful and accessible guide to crafting through the seasons, offering over 70 step-by-step projects suitable for crafters of all levels.
Whether you’re a beginner looking to dip your toes into the world of crafts, or an experienced creative maker seeking new challenges, this handbook is a treasure trove of ideas, tips and tricks.
“Crafting is everything to me,” says Sara. “But for a lot of people, it’s a bit scary. When you used to say ‘craft’ 10 years ago, people would think of their grandma knitting. Crafting is so much more than that – and for a lot of people, they love the idea of it, but they don’t know where to start.”
For Sara Davies, this new and exciting venture isn’t just about creating beautiful things; it’s about making crafting accessible to everyone. She draws a parallel between her love for crafting and her own challenges in the kitchen.
“It’s like me and cooking,” she starts.
“I love the idea of having friends round for dinner and cooking a beautiful meal, but I have no clue where to begin,” she laughs.
Just like the recipes she follows in her cookbooks, Sara believes that crafting can be demystified through step-by-step instructions and guidance. To bridge the gap between the allure of crafting and the practical know-how, Sara decided to create something special.
The Perfect Christmas Gift
“I create tonnes of videos, and a lot go viral on social media, but it’s one thing to see it when you’re scrolling on your phone, in comparison to referring back to something when you need it. So, I thought I’d pick my top projects and put them into a book. It’s not just any book – it’s a hardback luxury coffee table book filled with beautiful colours and glossy images. There are over 70 projects included, and they go through all the seasons of the year.
“When you’re looking for something new to buy your loved ones for Christmas this year, the book has got you covered. How many times have you bought your mum one of the 20 new cookbooks that launch in time for Christmas? Well, not this year. It’s a go-to easy, guaranteed winner Christmas present that will keep them busy all year-round.”
For my Christmas-obsessed self, the winter section of the book immediately grabs my attention, but the beauty of this handy guide is that there’s something for every season. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
“I love crafting seasonally. Just before speaking with you, I’ve been working on some Halloween crafts. I’ve made a wreath for the front door and some cute little pumpkins to put up in the kids’ bedrooms, and I just love it,” she says.
Seasonal crafting is a way to infuse every moment of the year with creativity.
“I always craft by theme, and I like to set aside half a day every couple of months, but that’s what’s so great about crafting, you do what works best for you” she adds.
But what inspires the queen of crafts?
“You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. I don’t always sit and come up with brand-new ideas all the time. They’re sometimes adaptations of other ideas that I’ve seen,” she shares.
Sara Davies dreams of inspiring people to put their own spin on her projects and spark a chain of creative evolution.
“Christmas crafts have always been a huge tradition in our family,” she says.
“About 20 years ago, my mum came up with the idea that we should make Christmas gifts rather than buy them. Well little did she know how competitive her two daughters would get over who could make the best Christmas gift – and ever since we’ve always rolled our sleeves up when it comes to Christmas. My sister is just as creative as I am and when she moved back to the North East, her house wasn’t quite ready so she lived with us for around nine months and was here over the Christmas. That year, we had a massive Christmas crafting weekend and made everything we needed for the festive season.”
It’s not all glitter and sequins, though. There’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with being a recognised crafts expert especially during the festive season.
“People expect big things. I always feel the pressure to hand make my children’s teacher gifts. It has to be bigger and better than the year before. I wouldn’t dare buy something, it’s got to be a handmade gift and card,” she laughs.
Sara Davies And Her Family Traditions
“All jokes aside, I love crafting with the kids at Christmas. It’s such a special tradition we follow each year. But if there’s something I know I want them to do, I have to plan every detail and prepare it within an inch of its life. That way, it’s organised fun and it all gets done,” she says with a smile.
“As a family, we love making decorations for the tree. We make new decorations every day, for ourselves, but also for the kids to gift to their grandparents. Salt dough is the best stuff you can use for this. Paper bag stars are also a great decoration to make for the home. A couple of years ago, I took some old paper bags, cut them into shapes, glued them together and they made a big beautiful star. I remember hanging them in the lounge and when my mum came for Sunday lunch, she started taking them down and when I asked her why she said, ‘these will look lovely in my hallway, you can make some more’.”
“Creating a Christmas wreath is also a huge part of our festive traditions. Although, last year, me, my mum and sister went to a wreath-making workshop and loved it. We loved it so much, we ended up doing an autumn one with them and we’ve booked again for this Christmas. I spend so much time teaching craft lessons, so it’s nice to go somewhere where they tell you what to do and they make you a cup of tea. You make a mess in someone else’s place and they clean it up,” she laughs.
Losing track of time and finding ourselves down a wintry slope discussing all things Christmas, we share our favourite craft ideas and I soak up some top tips when it comes to wreath-making. Chatting with Sara is effortless and as she shares her upcoming Christmas plans, my heart fills with joy to hear the wholesome family traditions that mirror my own.
“Christmas Day for us is always a huge family get together,” she starts.
“Every year, I have a house full. I always host my mum, dad, my sister, her husband, my niece and my sister’s in-laws, as well as my in-laws and of course me, my children and my husband. That was a mouthful,” she laughs.
“But we just all love being together and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do all the cooking and hosting and my sister organises all of the drinks and games. We have our roles and it works a treat,” she shares.
Sara Davies has many hats to wear in her work and home life, and one of the biggies is her flourishing TV career.
“I was filming Dragons’ Den in the summer, and that is due to air in the new year,” she says.
“The show, which has been growing in popularity, featured some guest Dragons this season which was very exciting. We had Emma Grede from Shark Tank and it was great to gain insight on her attitude and understanding of the business. She’s British but living in LA so it was fascinating to get her perspective on business.
“We also had Gary Neville. I didn’t know much about him, but I certainly didn’t know he was such a business mogul, so it was brilliant to learn from him. It was fantastic having them both on this season. I love the social side of doing Dragons’ Den, I get to spend 18 days with some of the biggest and best business minds in the country,” Sara smiles.
Another fascinating TV project was the Ultimate Wedding Planner.
A New Skill
“Other TV work I’ve done has been focused on me as a business person, but my first love is crafting, and it was a privilege to be asked to be the craft judge on the show.
“I didn’t get to do as much crafting as I would have liked and I remember there was one episode when one of the contestants was working through the night on a project where she had bitten off more than she could chew and I got my glue gun and started helping her. The cameras were off, the interview was finished and someone said: ‘Sara, you can go to bed now!’ and I was like ‘No, I’ll just stay and crack on’ and the executive producer had to come in and say ‘No Sara, you can’t actually help them’.
“I was gutted, I just had to go and sit in my hotel room knowing I could have been downstairs helping. So, that was definitely a hard part of the show. I would have loved
to have gotten more involved with the crafts, but we’re there to judge and offer guidance, not to do it for them.
“I thoroughly enjoyed that show and it was flexing new muscles for me because even though I’ve done TV work before, Dragons’ Den feels like a business environment and the cameras are like flies on the wall, so I never really think about how I’m coming across on camera. Whereas on this show, I was interviewing. I don’t have a journalistic background, so that was a new skill I had to learn and being a judge was a completely new experience.
The Art Of Constructive Feedback
“My experience on Strictly Come Dancing helped me because as a contestant, I knew what it was like to be judged and I had an enormous amount of empathy for how those contestants would feel. I remember trying to think back to how I felt when people were critiquing me and I always remember Shirley Ballas was so fair and offered advice, but she always left me feeling pleased with myself and I thought that’s how I want to make others feel.
“Our job isn’t to just judge them, it’s to help them get better. I also tied it into managing my own staff in the business. Feedback is the best way for someone to improve. It can
be difficult to hear, so I’ve had endless amounts of training on how to give constructive feedback. It’s the most important skill any leader can have and so I try to put what I’ve learnt over the years into practice.
“I love working in TV and I’m very fortunate to have a lot of exciting opportunities come my way, but sadly, I can’t accept them all. I live here in the North East and a lot of
celebrity game shows or whatever else it might be are often filmed in London or Glasgow, so it’s not just a couple of hours for me, it’s a full day including travel and accommodation.
Sara Davies and Antiques Road Trip
“One project I did make an exception for was Antiques Road Trip. They came here to the North East and it was with the wonderful Amy Dowden. She’s going through such a tough time with her cancer battle at the moment and I just have a lot of love, time and respect for her. I loved being a part of that.
“Another one was Channel 5’s Million Pound Motorhome. My dad is very handy and made us a campervan. When we were younger, we couldn’t afford holidays abroad, but he renovated a van into a motorhome and we’d go away on UK holidays. In lockdown, we couldn’t see my dad, even when you were allowed in certain numbers, because he has COPD so I bought him a 20-year-old caravan and he pulled it all apart and completely renovated it and now we’re all in love with our campervan.
“Channel 5 had obviously read about it so contacted me and said we’d love to feature you on Million Pound Motorhomes. I said, ‘But it’s not worth a million pounds’ (my dad’s very proud of the fact that he did it all under £13,000) – but anyway, they explained it isn’t just about the super expensive motorhomes and ended up shadowing us while on a family weekend in the Lakes in April. That was a lovely thing to be a part of. It reminded me of my childhood – centered around family time and being crafty.”
Family And Work
For Sara, balancing work and family is essential.
“My family is always the priority,” she says. “2023 has been a year of work hard, play hard. I’ve got young kids and with such a busy work schedule, it’s been important for me to take big chunks of time off to spend quality time with them.
“We’ve spent some time in Scotland in our campervan, me and my sister took my mum and all the kids away on a Disney Cruise and then I’ve been exploring Norway quite
a bit too. Work is extremely busy and that’s why when I am spending time with my family I want to make sure it’s pure quality time,” she adds.
Sara’s crafting business, Crafter’s Companion, has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. The surge in crafting during the pandemic presented both challenges and opportunities.
Behind The Pandemic
“The pandemic saw the crafting market expand enormously,” she explains.
The company had to invest heavily in upgrading systems, studios, and logistics to meet the demand for crafting supplies and inspiration.
“We had to invest in our buildings and our space. We’ve done so much work at our Newton Aycliffe base,” she says.
The expansion was necessary to keep up with the increasing number of customers discovering the joy of crafting.
For aspiring crafters who dream of turning their passion into a career, Sara, with her Dragon hat on, offers some expert advice. She suggests starting crafting as a side hustle – a manageable way to explore your passion while maintaining financial stability.
“When you’re starting out, especially with something like crafting, it can be a big leap of faith to just quit your day job,” she cautions.
Christmas is a great time to give crafting a go. There’s so much opportunity to get creative in your own home. If you realise you have an eye for crafting, another great thing about this time of year is that there is an abundance of markets and fairs to showcase your products.
“Spend your evenings and weekends on the thing you love, showcase them at markets and once you’ve tried that enough and you know it works and your product sells, it’s not such a big leap of faith. It gives you the opportunity to dip your toes in the water, to work out how much time needs putting in to generate a certain amount of product and how easy it is to transfer that into revenue. A side hustle is a brilliant way to start,” Sara suggests.
Chatting with Sara Davies is like catching up with an old friend. As we begin to say our goodbyes, I’m in awe of the woman I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with. Diving into family values, Christmas traditions, the world of business, TV insights and a few off-the-cuff topics, I leave our conversation feeling inspired and uplifted.
Not only is she an incredibly talented crafting visionary and a smart businesswoman, she’s a compassionate guiding light for those looking to start their journey.
And now this queen of crafts is set to become a best-selling author with an easy-to-follow guide filled with an abundance of seasonal inspiration. My glue gun is on the way and I’m ready to get crafty this Christmas and beyond!
Craft Your Year with Sara Davies by Sara Davies is published by Bantam (£20.00)