In April, we took time to celebrate some of the great businesses we had the opportunity to support in the Excelerate Labs ‘Celebration of Success Awards’. We caught up with Sarah Freitas, the founder of De Freitas Design and our winner of ‘Creative Industries Business of the Year’, to find out how her business is doing in the thriving Manchester design economy.

Sometimes choosing what type of business to set up can be a frustrating task for somebody wanting to delve into self-employment, but for Sarah it was a no brainer as to which industry she wanted to start her business in.
Born and raised in Cheshire, Sarah knew her perfect career would fall within one of her passions. She said: “I struggled academically but really enjoyed Art and Sport, so I always had an idea that my career would fall with one of the two. I didn’t specifically know it would be interior design, but I studied it at university and have loved it ever since!”

Having graduated from Salford University in 2010, Sarah’s first design job took her to Australia. One year later, she returned to the UK and began a new role within a Manchester-based interior design company which she worked at for over 6 years. With this experience under her belt and an ambition to start her own company, Sarah decided it was time to make a change and put her skills to the test.

She said: “By this point, I had been at the company for six and a half years, I really enjoyed it and I had creative freedom, but I was ready to move onto something new. I had always wanted my own company, and it just felt like the right time to start that”.
Now with a studio based on Manchester’s South King Street, two staff members and a turnover which is increasing year-on-year, it’s safe to say that De Freitas Design is making its mark in the North West’s design world.
Reflecting on her success, Sarah puts it down to building positive relationships and word of mouth recommendations from happy clients: “Each project I complete has been successful and my clients are always happy, my network has been growing purely through word of mouth. Up to now, this has to be one of my greatest achievements”.
With more and more interior design companies cropping up around Greater Manchester, Sarah told us what makes her business stand out from the rest: I give each of my clients my full attention. They receive a creative design service directly from me. I only take on projects to a capacity that I can handle so I can give it my full attention, keeping it personal and professional”.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Sarah decided to take up support from Excelerate Labs to help grow her business. Working with the Excelerate labs programme, Sarah received 1-2-1 support and was able to get the head space she needed to decide on the next steps for her business.
Talking about her Excelerate Labs experience, Sarah said: “I have had some great support from Excelerate Labs. I’ve had help putting together my business plan which has helped me start to set targets for my company, inspiring me and giving myself targets to work towards”.
As any business owner will know, juggling your personal life with your business venture can be incredibly difficult. This is why it’s so important to take time out to focus and strategize.
And this is something which Sarah herself is currently working to manage: “I struggle most with having time. One part of me wants to prioritise my business, especially because it’s in such a new stage and I want to put my all into it. But equally, I don’t want to affect my relationships and the time spent with people I love. I am finding the balance and know there are times when I have to step back from work and prioritise my family and friends too”.
So, what would Sarah’s key piece of advice be for someone wanting to grow their business? “Just do it! Be prepared to work hard and put your all into it, but if you really want it then you will succeed”.
We definitely agree! To find out more about how the Excelerate Labs programme can help your business grow, contact exceleratelabs@thewo.org.uk.
If you would like to find out more about De Freitas Design, you can visit www.defreitasdesign.com or follow the team on Twitter at @De_FreitasDsgn. Or you can contact Sarah directly via email at info@defreitasdesign.com.