Profile: Sarah Wallbank, August Race
How did you get into the marine industry? Immediately after I completed my Contemporary Art Degree in the UK I got headhunted by a film production company in Europe who produced music videos and TV commercials where initially I worked as an intern and progressed to stylist and then assistant director.
I have fond memories of zipping about on my moped stacking as many props and bags as I could on it. When I returned to the UK I freelanced for companies such as luxury menswear designer Alfred Dunhill and then went to work permanently in the current affairs department of Channel Four Television in London.
I got into the marine industry because we fulfilled my husband's wish to move back to his home county of Devon to be by the sea. Peter grew up on the sea and had been working inland in the non-marine chemical industry for 14 years and upon returning to his hobby he was wholly disappointed with the performance of the cleaning and maintenance products on the market. We combined his technical knowledge with my background in design and August Race was founded in 2015.
What are your career highlights?
I would say receiving a special mention in the Boating Business 'Women in the Marine Industry Award' in London earlier this year was a real privilege. And also watching August Race as it grows and develops.
We are a family business to our core, the company is named after our youngest son August and a lot of the company’s imagery has our elder son Oscar in with his blond curly hair, however August never fails to enjoy pointing out that a lot of the shots of his older brother are of the back of Oscar's head. I manage all export within the company and I can figuratively travel the world from my desk in Devon as I navigate time-zones and learn of different international traits and customs of doing business.
We have a large shipment leaving for our new distributor in Norway this week and we have translated all of our range labels into another language for the first time so seeing small things like this really emphasises where the product is going and the progress we are making which makes me proud.
What are your low points?
In my 20s I had a period where my mental health was in bad shape, so I am a big advocate now of opening the conversation on the topic and think movements such as #HeadsTogether are a valuable and vital part of society. That said, after recovering from that very little fazes me now in work or life.
What lessons have you learnt over the years?
If you don't know the answer to something, it's best to just say rather than fluff. Also admitting when you've made a mistake at work is more productive than deflecting blame. Ultimately the marine industry is such an inclusive and friendly bunch of people to work with it makes life so much easier.
Have you any hints and tips for other businesses?
If you believe in your product and the product is sound and you work hard there is no limit to the successes you can achieve. Don't be afraid to ask for guidance/feedback from other businesses, we do this all the time and some of our best products have been developed following Peter's intense consultation periods with some of the world's best-known boat builders. Keep evolving, get your core product range secure but keep that development frame of mind actively open.
What are your plans for the future?
We are in the final stages of developing our new clothing and accessory range and I am enjoying using skills from my previous career on this project and this will be launched at the Southampton Boat Show in September. In addition, we are busy working on a range of environmentally friendly hydro-phobic coatings too which we also intend to launch there. The August Race stand will be double the size this year and we are very happy to announce that the brilliant Richard Roberts CEO of the title sponsor TheYachtMarket.com is going to officially open our stand on press day. We have the happy position of being opposite the Guinness tent for this momentous 50th anniversary year of the show so please do come and say hi and see what's new with us if you plan on visiting.
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