Lately a few people have asked where I started, so sitting in a hotel bar in London bored of writing emails and presentations I’ve decided to take 10 minutes and tell the first part of my story.
Growing up my mum and dad had terrific work effects. My mum worked two jobs as a carer and a mobile hairdresser whilst being a full time mum to 2 lunatic children. My dad worked for British Telecom (BT) at the same time worked for his brothers leather cutting business. Eventually this was shut down as time went by and shops started buying leather from Asia and India business quickly dried up. Fortunately as this was drying up my dad progressed fast through BT to be able to support us with my mum.
At the age of 14 I started to understand what a pound meant. Being from a hard working family who kept an eye on their money I was only given £5 per week in pocket money, which I had to work for. In the holidays I used to go out with friends everyday, except the days it rained. It was one afternoon, cheek leaning on one hand with me staring out the window with the rain rolling down the window I had a flash of genius. I was going to sell umbrellas to tourists. With everything I was learning from my business studies classes I went to my room and started writing a plan of action. The first I had to figure out was, where were all the tourists?
The next day in the overcast summer weather I went to our local shopping centre, found the pound shop and bought 10 umbrellas with the money saved in my Natwest collectable piggy bank. I then waited for the next rainy day and carted all these umbrellas up London on a £2.50 rail ticket.
By this point I was out of money so this had to work. I then sat on the edge of Hyde Park corner with my mums small hairdressing chair and started chanting, ‘UMBRELLAS, LOVELY UMBRELLAS, ONLY £5 EACH’. God knows where this came from, I’d never worked on a market and all I had to go by was my favourite tv show ‘Only Fools and Horses’. By mid morning I’d sold all 10 umbrellas for £5 each. It was the most money I’d ever seen in one hand, 50 whole pounds.
The first thing I did was tell no one 😉 I knew if told anyone they’d all want in. Plus mum might start charging me rent 😉 which would never have happened.
From then until I was 16, I’d watch weekly weather reports, go buy up all the umbrellas and get selling. In the end I stopped putting prices on the umbrellas and when people asked for one I told them to make me an offer. I found people paid far more than I was originally selling them for. People would often give me £10 to £15 each. They thought they’d got a great deal because they made the offer and I was laughing because not long ago I was selling them for £5 and bought them for £1.
This was a fantastic experience for me and to this day they are some of the best memories of my life. Memories I wouldn’t trade anything.