Business in Your Hand – making Soaps for Leo.
Weekly from the end of October through to the start of December 2021, Bernie alongside the Centre for Leadership Performance worked with Sixth-form students at Mayfield School on the Whitehaven Campus. Mayfield is a special school and Trevor Milton the head of sixth form was keen to develop students’ employability and entrepreneurship skills through the CForLP’s Business In Your Hand programme.
Each Tuesday the class met with Bernie to explore what a business might look like, develop the ideas and concepts around business development and created a product to sell at the Christmas Fair. The class chose soap and using Enterprise Soapbox the students decided they were going to raise funds for Jigsaw, a local children’s hospice, in memory of their late friend Leo.
Leo loved dragonflies, bright colours and the students wanted to create a fund-raising soap that really showed their love for Leo. With some light guidance, the team of students worked on their product prototypes, colours, shapes and packaging preferences and also with help from their staff designed a logo and laminated keepsake labels to add to the soaps – which were presented in beautiful and reusable mesh bags.
In mid-November Aiden Blackett from Carlisle-based The Victorian Candle Company came in and alongside Bernie shared his business secrets with the students. He also brought in some of the equipment he uses, shared a video of the manufacturing process and allowed students to package some of his candles – a process they all recognised from their own production process. Aiden also left a Christmas Gift Box of three candles which the team raffled off in aid of Jigsaw.
Trevor said: “Watching the group come from no knowledge of starting a business to being able to make hundreds of products for charity was an enormous pleasure. Students worked together and have definitely increased their confidence and teamwork through using their creativity together in this way. In all honesty after they had decided what they were doing, they all worked together and decided on what they wanted the soaps to look like and were really focussed on making high quality items to sell”.
Estelle a sixth form teacher said that “the students were always positive and enthusiastic about the process and once they’d decided on the purpose of the business plan they were behind it 100%. It was fantastic to see them engage with Business In Your Hand in this way. They loved it”.
Once the prototypes were agreed and the £100 seed-fund gifted to Mayfield was invested in packaging and extra moulds, the production process was in full flow with stock being made, soaps packed neatly, labels printed, laminated, punched and added to the soap packaging: all ready for the Christmas Fair on 4thDecember.
In the run-up to the event local radio station Cumbria FM were also in the building and students Abbie, Kate and Arran were interviewed live about the project – which will certainly have spread the news about the charity sale.
On the day of the Christmas Fair the Sixth Form Soap Stall was extremely busy – partly due to the CFM interviews but also because Leo’s mum had been spreading the word and making sure all her family and friends went to the fair to raise more money for Jigsaw!
The Mayfield staff all got involved in the raffle of the Victorian Candle Gift Box and raised £177 in ticket sales, meanwhile the soap stall took an incredible £382.30 making the total £559.30 – which is all going to be handed to Jigsaw when the Manager can come to Mayfield to thank the students in person for their hard work and donation.
When Bernie returned in January to ask the students what they had learned, whilst undertaking Business in Your Hand they were able to clearly outline the skills they had used and with some gentle prompting were able to state the 5Ps of Business – Product, Price, Place, People and Promotion – all of which they’d used aplenty.
Skills they had used (in their own words) included Teamwork, Communication, Listening, Trying New Things, New Ideas, Production and Creating Labels.
Some of the students told Bernie what they had enjoyed doing or learned as part of the project:
Abbie: “I liked everything” and “I loved doing it for Leo”.
Amy: “I liked selling the soap to people”
Arran: “I loved taking the money – the sales side”
Rebecca: “I liked making posters”.
Kate: “I loved doing it for Leo – being creative”.
Bernie said “working with the team at Mayfield was amazing – the staff and students all throw their enthusiasm and passion behind the Enterprise Soapbox / Business in Your Hand project and their dedication to the memory of Leo was inspiring. It was an absolute joy to work with young people in this way to increase their confidence, enterprise and employability skills”.