Sarah Callender keeps winner's mindset amid challenges
On February 27, entrepreneur Sarah Callender's act of kindness saw her being "blessed with a car"– the reward for a random act of kindness on series of giveaways by entrepreneur Israel Mark, known on social media as @askmarkos.
"I went to Trincity Mall to pay a few bills. I carried my youngest son along with me, because he had no school and he’s presently preparing for SEA. I decided he needed a brain cooler. After I finished everything I had set out to do, I proceeded to take a taxi," Callender told WMN.
She said she was approached by a young man asking her for money to get to Arima. She listened to him, but didn’t give him any money initially because she gave money to people countless times in the past and ended up being scammed.
But, she said she immediately felt a sense of guilt.
"I thought to myself, 'Sarah, you have sons and if one day they are stranded, you would feel good knowing that someone helped them.'"
So, she turned around and gave him the money.
"To my great surprise, what happened after left me tremendously baffled, and although this is now my reality I'm still very much in shock."
After helping the young man with his travel fare she proceeded to walk away. It was then that she was told she had won a car because of that act of kindness toward a stranger.
"I thought it was a hoax and told him to keep the money because I do not want anything. I was stunned when I saw him removing his disguise and calling the rest of his team. I was asked if I wanted to see the car and I agreed. I decided to play along with whatever prank I was being played. To my great astonishment I was escorted home with the car and was given the keys as well as $1,000. Too much was happening way too fast, and I was not given time to digest or make sense out of what was happening." She said she felt as if she was in the matrix, with countless questions and absolutely no one to answer them.
"I felt overwhelmed. I was expecting them to return for the car in the morning, but they did not...When the video was aired I became an overnight sensation. Almost everywhere I go people still walk up to me to ask if I really got a car. This experience has brought so many opportunities my way. I have received an avalanche of congratulatory messages and positivity. Although it seems as if that particular act of kindness I displayed on the day, allowed me to win a car, I know it’s because of seeds I have planted in previous times, and God decided to openly reward me. I know my life would never be the same because of this tremendous experience."
Callender is the founder of Sarah’s Mellow Alco. Her life hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but she said her aim is to always live with purpose, seeking to do and experience as many of her dreams as possible.
The 39-year-old entrepreneur from Arima said the business blood runs in her family. Her grandmother was also a businesswoman.
"I can vividly remember how my grandmother used to serve her customers with a smile, and she genuinely had a level of concern for each of them. Those memories are etched in my heart and it has influenced me greatly as a businesswoman."
Mellow Alco produces an array of exotic flavoured rum cream liquors and fruit cocktails. Flavours include coconut nog, Irish cream, dragon punch and caramel toffee, to name a few.
"This brand was specifically created, and crafted for people who don’t like strong and overwhelming alcoholic beverages. The alcohol in my products is just enough to make you feel mellow."
Production began in 2017, two years prior to the company's official launch in December 2019.
"It was just something that was meant to be seasonal, and a side hustle. My previous boyfriend loaned me the capital after I shared my vision and business ideas with him."
Although the pandemic limited her ability to market the products and reach the widest audience possible, she said customers didn’t mind picking up their orders from her home.
Since inception, she said, her business has grown significantly.
"It’s mainly because I do a lot of marketing, and the quality of my products have remained the same. In addition, I ensure I meet my customer’s needs, and have a good relationship with them."
Callender said while the sector in which she works is highly-competitive, her brand sets itself apart from with quality, tasty and tastefully presented products.
Services provided by Mellow Alco includes a delivery service.
"I also give my customers the option to choose if they would want their orders customised, depending on the occasion. We also offer a cocktail bar service for any event. We use our products and create an assortment of speciality cocktails."
When she and her team does a full cocktail bar at a client’s event, they charge based on the particulars the customer requires, as well as how many people they will serve.
"Our retail price for one of our drinks is $160, and a mixed cased is usually sold at a discounted price of $10 off each bottle."
She described her work team as proficient, dedicated and hard-working. The team generally includes her and her three sons Nathaniel, Nathan and Nehemiah who are 21, 19 and 12 respectively. She said their functions may change depending on the event or artisan market they are attending.
To date, the biggest event Callender and her team worked on was Shades Breakfast and Soca All Inclusive Party.
She said the feedback was mind blowing.
"I have encountered many challenges during my time in business. Some of these challenges include self-doubt, fear, uncertainties and mostly lack of support."
She said she overcame these challenges through prayer and nurturing hopefulness, optimism and patience with herself.
"My business was not handed to me, I worked from inception to create not only a brand, but to offer impeccable products and services."
She believes someone who is seemingly at a disadvantage can use their current situation to revisit their drawing board and change a few things. "Do some introspection when necessary and never be afraid to ask for help. Our pride can sometimes be the cause of us not progressing."
Callender told WMN she is currently working on things that excite her.
"I am currently re-inventing myself holistically, and the changes I'm making progressively really excite me. I am also presently doing an events management course, which I find really fascinating."
But while she may be seen walking through the borough of Arima with a smile on her face, Callender has been overcoming challenges for as long as she can remember.
"Family? I have never had a family that supported or believed in me...I lived in various places and was never stable. I had a traumatic childhood smeared by abuse."
Those traumas and deep-rooted emotional and psychological pain further affected her in her adult life.
"My literature teacher in secondary school always believed in me, and dropped off a very encouraging and motivational note for me at my first place of employment."
Asked why she chose to become an entrepreneur, Callender said, "The thing that drew me to entrepreneurship was just finding a way to make money to take care of my three sons."
Callender holds an associate degree in journalism, and a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the College of Science Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago.
"I previously worked with a few ministries for a number of years. However, it’s very unsettling, to say the least, to always be on contract, and when your contract is close to its end, you find yourself being unsure of whether or not it will be renewed. I got tired and weary of not knowing, and decided to do what’s necessary to pay my bills."
And with her recent vehicle acquisition, she now find it easier to get around.
"This experience is worth being recorded in the Guinness book of records. I am truly grateful to Markos for being so genuinely kind and generous. He’s a vessel God is using to change and impact the lives of many people. Even when the hype and momentum dies, the blessing would remain, and I would always have a testimony to share. Remember, be kind."
"Sarah Callender keeps winner’s mindset amid challenges"