Not many 18-year-olds would be brave enough to start their own business, but Lauren Farrow has done just that, and is also helping to run another.
Moreover the determined teen from Vetnor Avenue has entered the world of business after overcoming personal circumstances, and is singing the praises of the Prince’s Trust which has enabled her to achieve so much already.
Lauren spoke to the Journal about her family’s business SFL catering, as well as her online equestrian marketplace Horse Mall, set up with the Trust’s help.
Tell us about SFL catering.
It is a mobile catering business run by myself and my mum Sue Farrow, offering healthy, fast food. We launched on September 13 and have already been at events such as horse shows and Gravity Fields. The food we serve includes wraps, sandwiches and burgers, but these are all healthy not dripping in grease! My dad Frank is also involved with the maintenance of the mobile unit.
What prompted you to go into the business world?
I was actually all set to go into the medical profession. It’s what I’d wanted to do ever since I was little, and I did work experience and worked hard for my exams. But I had a mix of stress-related problems and developed an eating disorder. Sometimes all I’d have all day was a lettuce leaf, and I went from a size 12/14 to wearing clothes for five and six-year-olds. Then my dad had health problems and it was partly because he was so worried about me. That’s when the alarms went off and I got some help, as well as deciding to do something different. I left school in February and we decided to set up SFL Catering, which is all about eating healthily. Nothing is worth risking your family’s and your own health.
And now you are busy not only with SFL but also Horse Mall?
Yes, I have loved horse riding all my life - I was riding before I could walk! When I started to get better I was really lucky to have friends and family who supported me and also convince me to ride again. The money I’ve earned from working has even enabled me to buy my very own horse, an amazing American saddlebred called Nito, having previously shared my mum’s horse. I then realised I love it so much that I wanted to start my own equestrian business - Horse Mall. It is a website where horse equipment and anything to do with horses can be advertised. It is something I’d looked for myself so I thought it was a good idea. The plan is to launch www.horsemall.co.uk at the end of November, beginning of December.
How has the Prince’s Trust helped you?
I couldn’t have done it without them. I went on their website and applied for the enterprise programme. I was then invited to a meeting in Lincoln with other young business people like me. I felt very privileged to be chosen and the Trust is so welcoming. I did a four day course learning important business skills - for example filling in tax returns - and all this gave me confidence.
They helped me write a business plan, and I presented this and was interrogated by a panel very much like ‘Dragon’s Den’. They can then decided whether or not to give you a grant of up to £4000. I’ve just found out that I’ve been awarded the full amount which is amazing!