Sarah Colbon is Co-Founder of Njord by Bergman Design House. Here, as part of our popular Inspirational Female Founder Series, she shares her entrepreneurial journey.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I’ve been immersed in the world of superyachts for over 12 years now, rooted in my background of being brought up on the water on the south coast of England in Emsworth, in a small sailing village. Travelling the world gave me experiences running businesses in the fishing charters, tourist sailing charter yachts and so on in Australia, never as crew but only in the business marketing and PR sectors. Following a passion and a dream turned into a career journey in this small, family like niche industry, working alongside top shipyards, yacht management companies, brokerage and design sectors. This gave me the foundations and experience to see an opportunity to develop a new approach specifically in the design sector of the industry. Partnering with Marie and Albin Berglund from the award winning Bergman Design House to create Njord by Bergman Design House, the superyacht design arm of the business, with a whole new approach to clients and experiences producing the best designs the world has ever seen.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I was hosting a luxury yacht segment on YouTube for a yachting publication and came across Bergman Interiors Co-founder Marie Soliman on LinkedIn, spotting a recent design project in Norway for a hotel and spa. I immediately was drawn to the design but once meeting Marie after an hour-long interview, something clicked. The following day we discussed a partnership and without hesitation we started Njord. The following month we signed our first refit project onboard 56m Benetti Galaxy.
How did you achieve awareness?
We have a very strong approach to PR, very different to most in our industry, combining my experiences in yachting with Marie and Albin’s experience in building Bergman Interiors to leverage our profile over the “leaders” of this marketplace. We think outside the box of traditional communication efforts, we strategically collaborate with the best partners, surround ourselves with the network and clients that allow our design to be at the forefront of the market by showcasing these through different media avenues. Social media combined with traditional media allows us to go further.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Njord by Bergman is built on its own financial growth with no external investment and is co-owned only by the directors only being Sarah Colbon, Marie Soliman and Albin Berglund. Growth is from hard work, traditional building blocks of doing business the correct way, giving outstanding results and consistency allows growth and showcases stability and positive organic growth.
What are the key successes?
Attracting new yacht ownership by creating a new process and approach to the design experience, breaking boundaries in sustainable design and by-passing traditional time restraints to allow our effective and efficient time management of projects in the refit sector to create new standards.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Previously interiors on large motor or sailing yachts were taken with a consortium of people which would going beyond shipyard, captain, owner, designer and outfitters to many suppliers sometimes adding additional time barriers. Collaborating prior to a project knowing the clients just need the job done in a tight timeframe, budget but expect the quality and design to be above and beyond expectations. Crew are the pinnacle of the project alongside the shipyard management, then as the interior designers you take more of a responsibility equally to them, to support them and manage suppliers as a team. By having Bergman’s access to suppliers outside the general yacht interior industry allowed us to be more flexible and give quicker turnaround times. This in turn allows a team effort for all working for one goal, the client. Personally it was such a wonderful experience to see what could be done when challenging the “always done” to the “now can be done” in this sector and grow our business this way.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We have many exciting projects — some are very confidential, some being discussed, ship conversion projects which I’m personally passionate about, allowing the recycling process and sustainable growth in this sector of yachting in support vessels and exploration opportunities.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Take researched risk backed up by what drives you passionately, make what you do part of life’s journey and yes sometimes things work and don’t but never take as a fail always take as another building block.
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Work hard, it doesn’t always mean take personal sacrifices it’s just means work out a way to balance but allow you to push your true potential.
Success is always personal and then professional, it’s how you yourself measure success. Make sure it’s a positive goal setting to diversify if you have to and keep going.
Don’t be afraid to make changes in your life and surround yourself with an amazing support system.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
My mother has a very hard work ethic and I was bought up by this. She and my father, who had a military background, provided me and my younger sister with the lifestyle that allowed us to travel, become independent at an early age and become the best version of ourselves, something I’m instilling in our small growing family.
Karen Brady — I always admired her approach to working in a very male dominated industry, football; I read all her books. Just like in yachting where I was always surrounded by very large male egos, she was able as a female entrepreneur and leader to showcase how to face these challenges and that changes when applied by working together equally can have huge success.
My business partners Marie and Albin, are not only are they my business partners with Njord, they are friends whom I admire and they inspire by their determination as a couple, as designers and as people.
I’m inspired by my those who surround me and us as a family. We are lucky to have friends who are also entrepreneurs, young families building a future for them and their children to better their lifestyles whilst building successful businesses. My husband was a professional sportsman (he played rugby) for over 15 years, he has shown and inspired me to make goals, be a team player and be strong. He himself in a successful entrepreneur and I’m inspired by his approach in life in general.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
I’m a huge reader of positive affirmations; I find these my own personal and spiritual guidance when reading quotes I especially love the law of attraction books, these taken from the The Secret daily teachings by Rhonda Byrne
“You need to associate with people
that inspire you, people that
challenge you to rise higher,
people that make you better.
Don’t waste your valuable time
with people that are not adding to
your growth. Your destiny is too
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
LinkedIn – Sarah Colbon