Distinctive Pets recognised by Theo Paphitis

On 27th December 2020 Distinctive Pets was chosen as a winner of Theo Paphitis #SBS.   It’s taken a long time but I finally got to meet Theo and receive my certificate.

Theo Paphitis #SBS announcement

But First - What is #SBS?

Theo Paphitis, who is best known for his appearance on BBC’s Dragon’s Den, created #SBS (Small Business Sunday) on Twitter to recognise small businesses.  Each week Theo selects 6 businesses from thousands of entries who tweet between 5pm and 7.30pm each Sunday using #SBS.  Those 6 companies are then retweeted to his 200,000 followers.

Each year Theo hosts a winner’s event but due to lockdown Distinctive Pets had to wait until February 2022 to attend an Event.

February 2022 – The night before.

Meeting other pet businesses

On Thursday 24th February I set off to Birmingham the night before the event, sadly Richard couldn’t make it to go with me due to his own work commitments.

On checking into the hotel it was a quick freshen up before going to dinner with other pet businesses that were also attending the event the following day that I’d only met online before the day.

A social evening passed catching up with 10 other small businesses before heading back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.  These were people that I’d only met on Zoom meetings before and it was lovely to met them in person.

Friday 25th February 2022 – The event day

The day had finally arrived when I would receive my certificate from Theo Paphitis along with other small businesses.

The SBS Winners event took place at the ICC in Birmingham, just a short walk from the hotel.  Pre event covid negative results shown and onto registration to get lanyards and programmes before entering the large room where the event would take place.

Inside the room there was plenty of coffee, tea, fresh juice and pastries, muffins and fruit which wasn’t required after the hotel breakfast.  Capriccio Quartet were planning live music as the spacious room encouraged networking among approximately 1000 people, all from those small businesses.

All of the fantastic sponsors had stands around the edge of the room plus there was a Photo Zone to get a professional headshot taken for Free and a 360 video experience provided by other SBS Winners Exceed Events.

At 10.30am we were all seated and the event was opened by Kypros Kyprianou, CEO of the Theo Paphitis Retail Group.  He informed us of what treats we had in store for the day as well as welcoming us – many to our first SBS Winners Event.

Theo Paphitis


Kypros then introduced Theo himself and for the next 40 minutes he informed and inspired the room going through some stats from a recent winners survey.  

  • 76% of winners are women
  • Over 3000 businesses are part of the Winner’s group
  • 8% of businesses that enter SBS on Sunday evenings are winners.

Theo’s theme of the day was optimism with a healthy dose of reality.

Stats on #SBS winners

Some of the points that I brought away from Theo are

  • You can’t achieve without a dream – but you also need to be willing to put in the heavy lifting.
  • Focus on what you can control

After what seemed like 5 minutes but was in fact 40 Theo introduced one of his first entrepreneurs that he’d invested in on Dragon’s Den.

Theo Paphitis #sbs event

Rachel Watkyn MD of the Tiny Box Company.

Rachel told the room her inspiring story of how she accidently appeared on Dragon’s Den and got her investment.  Then her journey which like so many other businesses hadn’t been plain sailing, but included a fire at her first warehouse, flood at the second and blacklisted twice by Google.

But she has gone from a small business with just her and 1 other person to now employing 100 staff with a £10m turnover for 2021.

After Rachel had delighted the audience Debbie Lewis from Natwest was introduced by Theo.

The Power of Mindset – Debbie Lewis

Debbie Lewis Natwest

This was about how we can change perceptions and mindset to help our business.  She then went onto whether we had a Fixed mindset or a Growth mindset.  On thinking about this I realised that I had a combination of both – depending on the challenge or task ahead. 

But the main thing I took away from Debbie was to turn I can’t do it into I can’t do that YET.


Small Pet Businesses #SBS Winners

This gave us the chance to network further with a super buffet lunch. I took advantage of a short queue for my professional headshot before chatting to other winners and visiting the sponsor’s stands.

Fireside Chat with Touker Souleyman

Touker Souleyman

I would say that this was the highlight of the event but I’m not actually sure – to me I got something out of every part of the day.

Touker Souleyman, a current Dragon from the Den told us his own story of successes and failures.  From his early failure he said to always do your homework and due diligence.

Very wise words from Touker was to – Never Give Up and always follow your passion.

After his story questions were invited from the room and these were jointly answered by Theo and Touker.

Certificate Presentation

The final part of the day was for all first timers to receive their certificate from Theo. Although the queue was long it was managed efficiently and as we were chatting it didn’t take too long before Theo presented Distinctive Pets with the certificate . 


Jo Milnes receives #SBS Winners Certificate from Theo


On the way out all attendees were given a goody bag. 

Huge thanks to Theo, the SBS Crew and all of the sponsors, for enabling this super event to take place and at no cost to the SBS Winners.

The day has inspired me to continue to grow Distinctive Pets while sticking to my values of trying to find products that different to those found in masses on the High Street.  I am looking at how I can go greener especially with packaging.  

As with many of those businesses that were at the event they are run by people with passion for what they do and I certainly hope my customers feel that this is the case with Distinctive Pets.