The Passionate PA was launched in October 2007 by Sarah Howells. Sarah made it her mission to rapidly increase her profile in the local Dorset business community not only by her hard work, but also by being a little bit cheeky, a little bit outspoken but mostly by being so passionate about providing an excellent service. Sarah’s parents insist that her first words were ‘I want to do it myself’ and whilst she didn’t always strictly believe them, she was always acutely aware of her independent streak. She’d always wanted her own business, but it wasn’t until 2007, at the grand old age of 33, that she really sat and thought about how she could.
She started by thinking about why she wanted to jump off the corporate ladder and the conclusion she came to was that she had lost the passion for what she was doing. Then she thought about what made her feel passionate and she decided that anything to do with people and organising really excited her. She was good at it. It gave her a buzz. And so her ideas developed… Sarah had seen friends, colleagues and associates rushing around like mad things and not always getting ‘stuff’ done. She heard so many people complaining that there just weren’t enough hours in the day and she also noticed lots of books and courses on time management!
Sarah believed the world didn’t need more books or theories. She couldn’t physically make the day longer but she could offer practical help - someone to do things, organise things, make things happen. Sarah wanted to be someone people could trust 100% because of her passion for getting things right – first time, every time. And so, The Passionate PA was born. In early 2009 Sarah was ready to expand. Business was good and clients were coming on board all the time. She hired Kate Chastey as the second, freelance, Passionate PA and the plan was, quite frankly, to take over the world!
Fate had other plans…
In June 2009 Sarah was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She spent many months fighting incredibly hard to get rid of ‘Frodo’ (as she called it) but in December 2009 she was given the news that “the Breast Cancer had moved to her brain” (Sarah’s defiant words). After three very hard months, Sarah succumbed to Pneumonia and passed away on 19th March 2010. Just before doing so, she had decided that her wonderful little business needed to live on and so she handed the reins to Kate.
Handing over the reins
After Sarah’s death, Kate continued the business – for a long time in Sarah’s shadow. Being just 26 and from a very corporate background, it was incredibly hard to move the business beyond what Sarah had hoped it would be, and very difficult for Kate to find her own voice in a business that was so very much the projection of one woman’s personality and style. After a bumpy few years at the start, by 2015 Kate was turning over more than £60,000 a year with an exceptionally high profit margin. It was no longer just a freelance PA business, it was a model for growth others were saying they were keen to learn.
#TeamPassionatePA is born...
It became obvious that the way The Passionate PA worked was very different to the army of VAs and PAs popping up across the business community and so, over a glass of wine, Kate offered the pilot franchise to Dominique Bailhache (pictured left). For two years the pair set about making money, documenting the business model and also having a lot of fun! Looking back, this was such a poignant time for the business – make or break! Now, for Kate, The Passionate PA is all about teamwork and fulfilling a huge desire to help other people who want to take charge of their own destiny - both financially and in terms of job satisfaction.
Kate has chosen franchising because of the scope this gives to take The Passionate PA offering to as many entrepreneurs across the country as possible, with franchisees that are cherry picked for their skills, experience, attitude and vision. In 2016 Debbie Frith (pictured left) became the second franchisee! She now has a fantastic business serving entrepreneurs with her specialist skills in operations and marketing.
And then there were 4!
In 2018, Claire Bartlett (left) and Jenni Bowman (right) joined the gang - increasing our physical coverage to include the New Forest and Bournemouth. They quickly became known in their business community and now work with awesome entrepreneurs and ambitious business owners.
Louise Cummins joined us in May 2019. Louise is a professional and dedicated PA with vast experience across the public and private sector, able to turn her hand to most things with very little briefing. Extremely calm under pressure, Lou has found her niche in business systems and CRMs.
Steph Taylor joined us in November 2021 after a tremendous career in HR at a highstreet supermarket. She's based in Christchurch, Dorset and offers her clients freelance business support with an HR focus.
A Passionate PA in the North!
Nicola Anderson joined our merry little gang in May 2022 after a successful career heading up Ops and Business Development teams, primarily in the construction industry. She is based in Nottingham but within her first three weeks in business, had four clients based up and down the country!
Kara joined The Passionate PA in August 2022 and is based in Southampton. In all previous roles, she has been responsible for business operations and driving income and profit. She now loves to partner with ambitious people who have created a growing business from their own passion, but have reached a point where they need to review how they operate in order to regain control.
From lone VA to Passionate PA
Rachel Carter joined us in October 2022 after a successful career in Business Support - including her own VA business. She joined our franchise for the support, mentoring and training provided and has not looked back since!
What does the future hold for The Passionate PA?
Oh, it’s exciting... Kate is on a mission to find the right people to become Passionate PAs, up and down the country. We will NEVER be a competitive franchise operation – it’s all about ethical growth, lifestyle choices, awesome clients and profit. Simple. If you'd like to learn more about becoming a Passionate PA, and how running your own business with us can be so much fun, please visit our Join Us page. If you'd like to become one of our amazing clients, book a call - let's get talking!