Teacher turned ‘tiny’ brand into £2m business – but declined ‘exciting’ Dragons’ Den offer

Dragons' Den: Tej offers his money to jam business owner

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As well as the investment opportunity, the entrepreneur learnt a lot about “the process” of business on the show. “It taught me to be quite thorough in all the aspects of the business,” the founder of healthy jam brand, Fearne and Rosie, said, during an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk.

With hours of filming in the den required, her time on the show was nerve-wracking.

“It was really scary. So I think if you can do that then you can do anything.”

Despite supportive words, four of the Dragons felt her pitch for £40,000 in exchange for 20 percent of the business wasn’t quite right for them.

However, Tej Lalvani, the CEO Vitabiotics, was keen to make an investment in the low-sugar jam brand – news which left Rachel “really excited”.

She said: “I held it together until Tej said he would like to make an offer and at that point, I just burst into tears because it was such an emotional experience.

“It’s a business that I’ve worked so hard on, and to have somebody of Tej’s expertise say that he thought this was a good idea, that meant the world.”

Rachel, 37, added: “He was the person in that room that I wanted to work with, so I was really excited that that happened. I think he’s brilliant. I think he’s really kind and he’s got the same industry expertise that I needed for our business.

“I feel really lucky that he made us an offer.”

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The Yorkshire-based entrepreneur accepted the offer of £40,000 for 35 percent, or 30 percent if he got the money back in 18 months.

“It’s incredible because at that point we were a tiny, small business,” she said, adding that the response was “phenomenal”.

Soon her time in the den, which was filmed in September 2020, Rachel made the terrifying move to walk away from the offer, instead opting for hands on mentorship and partnership with food and drink industry icon Giles Brook.

It was an amicable decision, and Rachel is still able to contact Tej’s team if she has any questions.

She explained: “We just didn’t do the deal because it wasn’t the right deal for the business. We grew an awful lot quite quickly after the show.”

Seeking mentorship in business was a crucial aim for Rachel.

“It wasn’t so much the monetary investment at that point that the business needed. It was the guidance and the ‘how to’ that I needed as a founder.”

A former teacher, Rachel founded Fearne and Rosie while on maternity leave, and it “really grew” out of an idea she’d had.

While teaching, she’d noticed that while healthy eating guidelines were in place at dinner times, the rules didn’t cover breakfast and after school clubs.

She said: “Our children deserve the best choices in food and that should be at home and in school.”

Her idea has proved to be a success. So much so, the brand is now valued at £2million, and is listed in major retailers such as Waitrose, Ocado, Morrisons – as well as other specialist and independent retailers.

Dragons’ Den returns tonight on BBC One at 8pm.

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