Rachel Elnaugh is the entrepreneur who created the market leading experiences brand Red Letter Days at the age of 24 – which she grew from nothing, on a shoestring budget, into a £multi-million turnover household name.
This won her an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2002 and she was shortlisted for the 2001 Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year Award along with Barbara Cassani, Jo Malone, Sly Bailey and Chey Garland.
Red Letter Days’ fall into administration in 2005, after the over-expansion of the business in 2002, gained huge media exposure…
Rachel says: “Five years ago my first business Red Letter Days was forced into administration by Barclays Bank – even though we had £3.3 million cash at bank – after a 16 year journey creating the company from nothing more than an idea, on a shoestring budget which built into a £multi-million turnover market leading brand contributing c£13million to the coffers of UKplc in the years I ran it. I was left with no business, no income, a one week old baby, plus c£1million in personal debt. And, because I’d just been a Dragon on the very first series of BBCTV’s cult business show Dragons’ Den, the Press had a field day. It would have been so easy to roll over and die at that moment. Give up and stay under the duvet. But that’s not what entrepreneurs do.”
Instead, Rachel chose to use her experiences in business to help other entrepreneurs on their journey – through speaking at business events, mentoring and advising about how to stay energised and positive even in the face of great adversity.
Rachel wrote about her experiences in business in her 2007 book ‘Business Nightmares’. The timing of the book launch could not have been more fortuitous as it was published at the beginning of the current recession – and has since become the handbook for business survival for many struggling entrepreneurs. Disappointingly, the theme of the book and it’s title was copied by the BBC in their recent series ‘Business Nightmares’ without consultation or permission from Rachel.
Rachel’s appearance as a ‘Dragon’ on the first two series of BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den in 2005 secured her celebrity entrepreneur status, which has resulted in over 300 engagements as a speaker and celebrity guest in the Enterprise Sector over the past five years.
Rachel has also given evidence to Parliament on the development of an Enterprise Culture in the UK and has both participated in and spoken at the All-Party Parliamentary Committee for Small Business. She is an avid supporter of David Cameron and was invited to consider standing as a Conservative MP in the last election. Her network in the Enterprise Sector is second to none. She has acted as a judge for the EMDA Enterprising Britain Awards, the Accountancy Age Awards, the Grazia Businesswoman of the Year Award and the National Business Awards.
Rachel has also become a respected Business Mentor and won the IAB Champion for Entrepreneurship in the UK Award for 2008 and was runner up for the SFEDI Supporter of Enterprise Award for 2009. Rachel has been an ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ at the British Library Business and IP Centre since 2008 and gives free monthly mentoring sessions to entrepreneurs. In return the British Library provides Rachel with the use of its magnificent training and conference facilities, where the majority of her training workshops and events are now held. Rachel is also an Ambassador to the Princes Trust.
Rachel is currently:
– Non-Executive Chairman of market leading childrens’ wall mural company Walltastic, which she has helped take from front room start-up to a £1million + turnover company, now exporting to 28 countries
– Non-Executive Director for the social enterprise The Small Business Consultancy CIC, which empowers disadvantaged youths through enterprise
-Non-Executive Director of Sustainable Bakewell CIC, which drives awareness and initiates projects connected to sustainable living in Bakewell and the Peak District
On 1 June 2011 Rachel announced the ending of her Business mentoring programmes to allow her to focus on a major new business project, full details of which will be announced soon.