Meet our founder: Sara Chemma
In honour of International Women’s Day, we are going to give you an exclusive insight into business woman Sara Chemma, Citron’s founder and CEO. Before we dive into how Citron was created and the struggles Sara faced as a woman in business, let’s talk a little bit about Sara’s background.
To begin, Sara worked in investment banking and later on she started investing in tech start-ups with MBC Ventures. Whilst working with a number of entrepreneurs and witnessing first-hand the dedication it took to grow a brand from the bottom up, she didn’t believe she would become a female entrepreneur herself.
Apart from work, Sara also loves her family life. To help keep her grounded, Sara explained how she likes to start her day with yoga and breakfast. The yoga helps her find her inner peace and balance whilst the breakfast gives her enough energy for her busy day. Sara pointed out the importance of family time and she makes sure her and her family eat dinner together every night and spend quality time together before they head off to sleep.
Why did Sara start Citron?
Sara is a hard working mum and explained that being a mother is the ‘most rewarding part of her career’, and her children are why she started Citron. When Sara’s toddler started going to nursery, he would come home crying as he was a ‘fussy eater’ and none of his food could touch. When he was sent to nursery, his lunch box contained a number of small pots to keep all the food separate, which was a nightmare for the teachers and for Sara herself.
When browsing the market for a compartmentalised lunch box, there wasn’t a single lunch box she could find. That’s when Sara decided she would be the solution to the problem she found. After drawing out a few simple designs for her friends, she sent lunch boxes for kids sketches to a manufacturer in China to create a lunch box that she hadn’t found on the market. To begin, Sara thought she was one of very few parents that faced the same struggle, but it turned out there were thousands of parents out there who faced similar challenges when feeding their children, especially on the go.
Sara’s desire to create a solution started with 3000 prototypes of her lunch box drawing, as this was the minimum quantity she could order. Not only did Sara solve her son’s issue, she also helped 2999 others who had the same issue. Soon after Sara quit her job, and set up Citron, with the aim of empowering parents by giving them solutions for any of their children’s mealtime needs.
Since the beginning of Citron’s journey, sustainability has become a key part of the brand. Alongside ensuring our products are practical and stylish they must meet our sustainability targets as well. Citron’s products are made to last without compromising on our sustainable mindset. Throughout the years Citron have reduced the amount of plastic in our packaging, Citron have created products with sustainable materials such as steel to make our cute water bottles, food jars and travel mugs as well as launching a new tableware range that is made from 100% plant-based materials.
Since the launch of Citron in 2017, it has quickly become a mealtime favourite brand that is now distributed across the world in over 20 countries. The brand has grown to include over 200 products with sustainability and the whole family in mind and has a number of awards to prove how popular it really is.
The challenges she has faced as a woman in business
Sara’s Citron journey however has not always been easy as many women in business would know. When speaking to Sara, she mentioned that she felt like a lot of people thought she was ‘lucky’ when as a woman, she got funding for her start-up business. Sara explained that the notion of luck is a lovely thought but ultimately hard work is what got her to where she is now.
To give you some context, Sara explained that if you want to get funded as a start-up, you have to have an idea that has been well researched and a strategy that has been well planned out, in order to become successful. Sara said one key piece of advice she could give not only women but everyone who wants to start a business, is be prepared to hear the word ‘no’ a lot from investors, but you must be resilient. Once you have had a few meetings, you should be able to gather a feedback summary which can help you restructure your initial plan.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, getting feedback is one of the most important parts of it. Whether you are getting feedback from investors or other people in your life, don’t be afraid of change; change happens all the time in business so you need to be able to take feedback and use it to your advantage.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of making that bold choice and being assertive while we do it.”
Sara felt she had an extra challenge when trying to find funding, and that was the nature of her brand. The majority of today’s startup funding seems to go to tech businesses instead of lifestyle brands. Despite this challenge and worry from many, Sara stuck to her idea of mealtime essentials. Sara explained that she backed her ideas and the brand Citron because she believed that parents were missing products in the market like her own and she could make a difference.
When asked what she would have done differently during her journey, she said she wanted to make more bold decisions. Sara believes that female entrepreneurs, especially ones that are working mothers shouldn’t be bold and it ‘isn’t an appropriate trait’, but in reality women have just as much to offer as men do. Sara wants to give one piece of advice which is “we shouldn’t be afraid of making that bold choice and being assertive while we do it.”