Harrogate businesswoman and Chocolatier Azra Sadiq found herself in the spotlight at a business event hosted by the entrepreneur and Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis.
Azra was asked to stand and be applauded by a gathering of 1,200 small business owners as Mr Paphitis praised her drive and tenacity in promoting her artisan chocolates business through local, national and online media.
The annual event – this year held at the ICC in Birmingham – is all part of Mr Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday initiative.
Every Sunday, small businesses can tweet Theo direct using the #SBS hashtag to describe their business to him in 140 characters or less.
Theo reviews and chooses just six to re-tweet to over 400,000 followers, which can mean a massive publicity boost for the chosen few.
Last May Azra’s tweet caught the entrepreneur’s eye – and her business, Azra Chocolates, is booming as a result.
But, as Mr Paphitis pointed out to the audience at the SBS event, it wasn’t just the re-tweet that sent Azra’s sales and reputation soaring.
Referring to Azra’s media coverage since, Theo said:
“This didn’t just happen because Azra won #SBS. It was about the effort and energy she put into winning, the marketing of it. You need to shout about it and start contacting people.”
Speaking about being singled out for such high praise, Azra said:
“Theo asked me to stand up during his presentation in a room full of 1,200 people who all clapped for me.
“He was using my win and media exposure as an example of what you can do by winning an #SBS award on Twitter from him.
“My picture was on the big screens three times during the presentation. I still can’t get over the event and being chosen like that as an inspiration for other winners.”
Harrogate-based mum-of-three Azra set up her luxury chocolates business in 2009 after a career teaching English whilst living in the Middle East.
She began by training with Master Chocolatiers in the UK and Belgium and mastering her craft in her own kitchen, where she created her first chocolate shoe.
She now offers a full range of designer-inspired chocolate shoes, all hand-crafted by Azra herself.
Her collection also includes matching chocolate purses and miniature versions of her shoes, perfect for wedding or party favours, plus special Limited Edition designs to keep an eye out for.
“Small Business Sunday is such a brilliant idea and I know many businesses get a fabulous reaction after winning a re-tweet from Theo.
“It’s allowed me to showcase my craft and products to a much larger audience than I could have reached without the #SBS win.”