Winners of the South Central Regional Final: Fleet
The winning company for 2015 and representing South Central at the 2015 Company Programme Final with their fantastic range of ethically sourced jewellery was Fleet from Oxford High School. Through some careful research, they found a women’s co-operative in Bangladesh which produced a range of products including bracelets, necklaces and earrings made from brass, copper and sari material.
To help kick start their business, they sold lavender hearts, handmade by members of the group from interior designers’ sample books and filled with handpicked and home dried lavender. The best part of this process was teaching the members of the team how to sew to avoid pricking fingers. It also had a very practical application in that Fleet realised that in order to get the jewellery business up and running they needed a slick production line. The lavender hearts proved so successful that they had to source an external supply of lavender in order to satisfy demand!
For Fleet, it was not sufficient that the jewellery had been sourced ethically. For them it had to be packaged ethically as well. They set to and designed their own jewellery boxes as there simply was not the right product readily available on the market. Their design skills proved really effective and some people bought the boxes as a standalone product. Part of their attraction was the continuous innovation to make the boxes individual.
As the year developed, Fleet grew more ambitious. They received orders from overseas. T hey developed a website in order to sell more of their products and sought to gain celebrity endorsement for their company. They have actively used social media to reach as many potential customers as possible. Closer to home, Fleet developed a close link with a shop in Henley-on Thames where they can sell their jewellery to staff and customers. The product brochure which then came along further helped to raise awareness of the unique and ethical jewellery.
In going through to the National Final and competing against the winners of all the regions in the UK, Fleet demonstrated that by applying good business principles, working hard and working as a team, they were able to achieve more than they ever imagined at the start of their journey. Managing Director, Sophie Teall, said, “It was quite simply the best and to know that we were also helping disadvantage women and their children made the whole experience even better. Taking part in Young Enterprise Company Programme really has given us skills for life”.