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Posted on September 30th 2020
Celebrating Entrepreneur Jessica, Year 8
When Catherine Wright, head of business at the Jo Richardson Community School in Dagenham, sent out a questionnaire to local businesses, she got one surprising reply.
Catherine was preparing case studies of businesses for her Year 10 BTEC students. “I contacted a local business person on Esty selling hand-made lip glosses, trading as House of J Cosmetics. The business was local in Rainham. I thought a lot of my students would love to investigate that business. I sent my standard questionnaire to the business owner asking for her help. She replied within one day and told me all about her business."
The business owner was Jessica in Year 8 at Harris Academy Rainham. “Jessica told me she was 12 and had started this business venture during lockdown. I just had to let you know how Impressed I am with this young lady,” said Catherine. “I am so absolutely bowled over by this young person and feel I need to share with teachers in her school who might be able to mentor her and support her.”
Here are Jessica’s replies to Catherine’s questionnaire, which show what an amazing, entrepreneurial student she is. And here is a link to Jessica’s business on Etsy.
How Jessica started House of J Cosmetics
My name is Jessica and I am 12 years old. I have permission from my mum to answer these questions, as requested.
What inspired you to start this business?
I got inspired during the lockdown as school was closed for six months due to coronavirus. After completing my homework there was nothing else to do, I got bored. I watched YouTube videos to fill my time and I came across a video on "how to make your own lip gloss". I love to wear lip gloss and this inspired me to start making mine.
Getting funding from my mum to start making the lip gloss was probably the biggest hurdle I came across. Fortunately, mum agreed after a lot of persuasion and gave me money to buy equipment and ingredients that I needed. I started making lip glosses for myself, family and friends. They loved the products and gave me positive feedback. So I decided to start selling them.
How do you attract new customers, secure repeat purchase and gain customer loyalty?
I have a variety of flavours available for customers to choose. I have also included other products such as lip scrub and lip oil to give customers more options. For every purchase a customer makes I send a personal message to the buyer to say thank you. I also did a sale recently as well and offer discounts to repeat customers. In addition, I pay for advertisement on Etsy and Instagram in order to attract new customers.
What are your key business aims?
My aim is to make profit and survive. I ensure products are affordable and not too pricy. To me, making a profit of £1 makes me happy, 50p profit also makes me happy. Especially In this pandemic period that we are in, I just want to survive.
Is being ethical an important element of your business - if it is tell us how?
Yes it is. My products are handmade, vegan and cruelty free.
What are the reasons for starting your own enterprise?
I am a student. I did not do anything before this business but to study. I started making lip glosses due to boredom and my intention was to make them for family and friends but now it's turned into a small business.
What of the following characteristics do you think you exhibit?
Motivation and dedication – my parents motivate me. They support me always (with a little convincing). They are hardworking parents and that motivates me to do well and give 100% in everything that I do. My mum being a nurse worked hard during the peak of the pandemic. She would come home tired but still woke up next day and went back to work.She motivates me all the time. My Lil brother looks up to me so it's important for me to set a good example as well.
Resilience – I never give up, I keep trying until I get it right. I remember I wasted so many batches of glosses in the beginning because of my mixing method. Nevertheless I kept going and making small changes until it was perfect.
Passion – I love making and wearing lip glosses. I don't know a girl that does not.
Vision – We will see what happens in the next four years, when I turn 16.
Focus - Education 1st, Business 2nd. I need to stay focus and maintain good grades. It's the condition my mum gave me when she funded the cost of starting the business.
Which of the following skills do you think you have?
Knowledge of industry – I did not have any knowledge of the industry when I started. I just wanted to make lip gloss to keep me busy during the period of lockdown. I learn every day and face any challenges as they comes.
Time management and prioritising tasks –I have improved on my time management skills. I also learnt how to prioritise my workload in order to ensure all tasks are completed in a timely manner. I have a set day whereby I make lip glosses. Monday to Friday after school are for homework and weekends. I mostly make new batch of glosses, if sold out.
Planning – Buying equipments takes time and planning and can be time consuming so I need to have good management skills. I have also learnt how to set up a shop online.
Communication – my communication skills have improved. I have learnt how to send emails and communicate with customers professionally.
Negotiation skills - I have "learnt that customers are always right". I have learnt how to negotiate when customers orders go wrong.
Do you conduct any market research?
I honestly have not done any market research : ) I just went with the flow.
Jessica, Year 8
We are very proud of you, Jessica, and wish you continued success with your business!