Enterprising pupils in UK contest final

Some of the Toucan members, back row, from left, Sanjana Kini, Jenny Dingwall, Hannah Hawken, Jemima Gassom and Sephe Tapper. Front: Kirsty Luk, Abi Church, Emily Fung, Hannah Darnton and Ella Jones

Some of the Toucan members, back row, from left, Sanjana Kini, Jenny Dingwall, Hannah Hawken, Jemima Gassom and Sephe Tapper. Front: Kirsty Luk, Abi Church, Emily Fung, Hannah Darnton and Ella Jones

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Business Editor. Call me on 01865 425460

TEENAGERS are celebrating after their fledgling company won through to the finals of a national business competition.

Toucan, run by 13 girls from Oxford High School, specialises in luxury clothing accessories – including scarves and welly socks which they designed themselves and have manufactured in Scotland.

The group have claimed the South East regional title in the Young Enterprise contest and the youngsters will now go up against the top teams in the country next month.

Managing director Hannah Hawken, 17, said: “Young Enterprise has been an invaluable addition to student life in year 12 because it connects every individual to a wider world of work, which in turn enables them to make huge steps towards the start of our professional careers.

“We are proud to be supporting British industry and developing a national luxury clothing brand.’’ The Young Enterprise scheme involves pupils setting up and running their own businesses over the course of an academic year.

The best groups are then selected to compete in county finals, which were won by Toucan last month, before they triumphed again beating five other teams in the regional final.

The company has turned over almost £8,000 to date and recently signed a deal with Oxford retailer Shepherd and Woodward, which will be showcasing a window display of scarves in September.

Endorsements have also been received from pottery maker Emma Bridgewater and top model Fredi Fuller, who has agreed to a fashion shoot featuring the Toucan range.

As a result, although the business has to be dissolved under Young Enterprise rules, the group have decided to reboot it in their final year at school.

Oxford High School’s Young Enterprise link teacher Mike Gallacher said: “The Toucan team have shown themselves to be a highly focused group of entrepreneurs, who have a clear brand and are adept at spotting and implementing a business opportunity.

“They are a great team who have stuck to their identity of Made In Britain luxury clothing.

“Their professionalism is second-to-none, and it has been fantastic to see them develop their confidence and business acumen.”

Michael Mercieca, chief executive of Young Enterprise, said: “The company programme brings out some of the finest young talent in the UK, who compete with passion and drive.

“The students that compete create viable and scalable businesses, giving them first-hand experience in learning some of the most valuable lessons in running a successful organisation”.

Toucan will compete in the UK final in London on July 1.

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