Our Woman’s Power Hour profiles and celebrates women who are storming the short stay industry and this edition is showcasing Anna Lancaster Hedman from Stay & Escape a luxury London property management start up which gives guests the ultimate luxury home away from home experience…
How did you come to found your company and what were the biggest challenges you faced when setting it up?
My background was in entertainment marketing and I owned and ran a marketing agency prior to venturing into the short-term rentals marketplace. I was fortunate to work with some of the biggest brands in the world but after 15 years, I felt I’d hit a bit of a glass ceiling and I was ready for a new challenge. I was excited by the innovation and energy of the sharing economy and, whilst on holiday in Sardinia with my best friend Kelly, we realised our shared vision of creating a luxury offering. From there things happened very fast; we created a business plan, created a website and set about leveraging our network to build our property portfolio. We’ve grown rapidly since then and we’re proud of how far we’ve come in such a short space of time.
The most challenging aspect was bringing on board our first clients. Whilst we had a strong vision and sound business model, we were a start-up business with no proof of concept. Thankfully, we had strong support and people believed in our offering enough to cut us a break.
How do you intend to face the challenges within the industry as a company?
By embracing change and being flexible with what we do. Nothing stays the same, especially within this industry. New rules, regulations etc come into play all the time, so it’s a case of being on top of it and working with them in the best way to benefit our company.
What is your advice for the next generation of leaders and change-makers?
I would say to have a path but remain open minded and flexible – build relationships along that path and be willing to accept changes even it seems it may lead you down a different path – who knows where that may lead.
How do you keep self-motivated?
A big part of staying motivated is knowing that Kelly and I depend on each other to give the business our all. Anything less would be letting her down and I consider myself hugely fortunate to be on this journey with my best friend. We are a dynamic team and work harmoniously together – we’re very balanced.
Biggest lesson you have learnt about yourself?
How strong and resilient a person I am – especially in the face of change. I took an enormous risk leaving behind a successful business to venture into new and unknown territory but it’s been the best decision I ever made. I’ve learned to embrace the fear and run with it!
Best piece of advice you were given?
Believe in yourself, if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, no one else will.
Who is the individual you admire the most?
At the risk of sounding a little trite, I would say Kelly. I admire her solution-focussed approach and her ability to keep perspective at all times.
Holiday destination of choice?
I think Kelly might second this, anywhere in Italy, the food, culture and wine are just spot on! We love Italy and travel there frequently – it’s such an inspiring and breathtakingly beautiful place.
Your Favourite city in the world?
It’s got to be London, the greatest city in the world!
How do you celebrate your achievements?
With a glass of Champagne, or two in one of our favourite restaurants – Hakkasan for example.
If you could run any company in the world what would it be and why?
Something inspirational like Mindvalley – the personal growth company. Though I think Vishen Lakiani has it nailed.
I love Jay Shetty’s ON Purpose. Helps me put a lot in perspective and think about the bigger picture.
What book would you recommend?
I do love thought provoking books like The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Want to feature in our Next Power Hour? Email Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org for your submission.