20 QUESTIONS: Abi Wright, Spabreaks.com

Abi Wright, the co-founder of Spabreaks.com and a former 35 Under 35er, on sticky fingerprints, Sheryl Sandberg and 'stealing' money.

by Kate Bassett
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2014

1. IF YOU HAD DONE SOMETHING ELSE, WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?

Before starting Spabreaks.com I had my own PR company, specialising in the spa and hotel industry.  If I wasn’t doing what I do now I think I'd still be working in the industry but in a consultancy capacity. 

2. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU NAME YOUR BUSINESS?

Wecandoanything.com. My team are incredible; I don’t think there is anything they haven’t been able to deliver. They always go over and above, and it always amazes me!

3. IF YOU COULD BE BASED IN ANOTHER CITY, WHERE WOULD IT BE?

London is such an inspiring place to work – it’s so dynamic. If I was going to be anywhere else, I don’t think it would be a city; a good wi-fi connection on a beach in Barbados would fit the bill nicely.

4. WHEN YOU STARTED, HOW DID YOU RAISE MONEY?

Begged, borrowed, and stole. I have my business partners, Ross Marshall and Andrew Harding, to thank for a lot of guidance, and the venues we work with for trusting me enough to build long-term relationships that have since come to fruition, but in truth much of it was about being very careful with any spending – no frills!

5. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DECISION SO FAR?

The decision to start. The tricky thing is always getting going. Once you have made that choice and committed to it the rest is easy... sort of.

6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE?

Not setting up Spabreaks.com.au first – the beaches there are pretty wonderful as well as the ones in Barbados.

7. WHAT IDEA DO YOU WISH YOU HAD COME UP WITH?

Post-it Notes. The simple ideas are the best.

8. HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

I walk the dogs – it means I have to get up really early in the morning, but it’s worth it. It’s when I clear my head and have my best ideas. In the evenings, there is nothing better than cuddling up on the sofa with my children before they go to bed.

9. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?

Babysitting? I’m not sure I can remember that far back! After university, I originally worked as a journalist but quickly realised it wasn’t for me and moved into the hotel spa sector in marketing and PR.

10. WHAT WAS YOUR WORST JOB?

It’s not a job in its own right, but letting any member of staff go is always heartbreaking. I will never get used to that.

11. WHAT WAS YOUR BEST JOB?

After I finished school I spent time working in an Elephant Orphanage in Kenya for six months which was humbling and awe inspiring.

12. IF YOU WERE ON THE APPRENTICE, WHAT WOULD YOUR TEAM NAME BE?

Abi’s Allstars because they are!

13. WHICH COMPANY WOULD YOU INVEST IN RIGHT NOW?

People are really waking up to the importance of looking after their health in the long term, so whether it’s product lines or wellbeing holidays, that's definitely where I'd be looking to invest my money at the moment. 

14. APART FROM PROPERTY, WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING YOU’VE BOUGHT?

My car. I have to fit two children and two dogs into it, and all the wear and tear that goes with family life. During the floods this year it was brilliant!

15. SUITS OR JEANS?

Jeans. A suit lasts all of about 30-seconds in my house before it’s covered in sticky fingerprints.

16. FLEXIBLE WORKING OR OFFICE HOURS?

It’s very dependent on the role that a person has within a team. Some positions rely on office hours and shift work; others need flexibility to do their job. I have a number of mums on my team who I would never be without, and I know their lives are made a lot easier through flexible working.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOUR OFFICE?

The people – I spend so much of my day laughing! The energy they bring to the working environment is priceless.

18. WHAT APP CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?

Google Maps, especially when I’m in London. I am a country girl at heart and unless I’m on the Tube or in a car, I'm totally lost.  When I do get the chance to walk around London I just love it and always spend my time looking up!  It’s amazing what you can see... although, not so helpful for going in the right direction.

19. WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL?

Oh gosh, there are so many. I think there are some incredible women out there. Anyone who has a passion for what they want to do and pursues it, so Claire Lomas, Jessica Ennis, Sheryl Sandberg.  That said Richard Branson is pretty incredible; we were ranked number two in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 in 2012, and when I got to meet him I was in complete awe.

20. IF YOU WERE PRIME MINISTER FOR THE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

I would encourage everyone to take a little time out for wellbeing. We all spend so much time running around like headless chickens. Perhaps we should all have Wednesday afternoons off to go for a stroll?

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