A TEAM of young entrepreneurs have been getting into the groove for a record-breaking future by setting up a business turning old vinyl discs into useful household objects.
The Year 12 students from Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College in Altrincham, who are running a company called Vinyl Mash Ups, were among a group of budding tycoons who showcased their wares at a pre-Christmas pop-up in Stretford Mall.
A total of 40 young people from schools and colleges across Trafford ran nine different stalls during the event.
It was masterminded by the national charity Young Enterprise, which empowers young people to harness their personal and business skills, in partnership with Stretford Mall Manager Gareth Wilkins.
Led by its managing director, 17-year-old Matthew Wakeham, Mash Ups went into production in September with an 18-strong workforce.
Matthew, who lives in Stretford, said: “We had the idea of using old vinyl albums to make place mats that people can use at their dining tables.
“We bought a stock of records from charity shops and then members of the team, who all have different jobs in the company, decorated them in different ways.
“We have some with a Minions theme while others are decorated with pictures of Manchester United, Star Wars or the Manchester band Oasis.
“We’ve also diversified a bit by making Scrabble frames using plastic letters from the board game.
“For the place mats we’ve been careful not to use any albums that might be valuable, like ones by the Beatles, and have mainly worked with stuff like country music.”
Matthew added: “We did tests on the records to make sure they won’t melt if you put a hot plate on them and they all passed.
“At the Christmas pop-up we were selling them for £3 each and doing a special deal of four for £10.
“Being involved with the company has taught me a lot of key business skills and has also been interesting and fun but going into business for myself is only one of my career options.
“The other is to be a football manager. I’m really keen on the game and apart from playing for the Flixton Juniors under 17s Sunday league team, I also help manage it.”
Gareth Wilkins, centre manager at Stretford Mall said: “Young Enterprise is a wonderful scheme helping give some talented potential future entrepreneurs the skills and experience they need to get a great start.
“The participants who came to our pop-up at Stretford Mall demonstrated a huge amount of creativity and imagination. I was very impressed with them all and wish them all the best in their future careers.”
The pop-up was organised by Young Enterprise as part of its Company Programme.
Suzanne Smith, Senior Young Enterprise Manager for Greater Manchester, said the project is aimed at young people aged 15-19 and runs throughout one academic year, enabling them to find out what it’s really like to set up and run a business.
She said: “Young people make all the decisions about their company, from deciding on the name and product to creating a business plan and managing the company affairs.
“All this takes place with the support of a volunteer business adviser who brings a wealth of business knowledge and expertise.
“A recent survey conducted for Young Enterprise found that 70 per cent of employers have difficulty finding good quality applicants for entry-level jobs.
“Young people come away with greater confidence, improved communication and problem solving skills, better teamwork capabilities and new aspirations for the future.”
Another crowd puller at the pop-up was a company called Re-Corked using old corks to fashion small objects like fridge magnets, necklaces and plant pots.
It’s run by Year 12 students from Altrincham Girls’ Grammar School and has a dedicated workforce of 24.
One of its key staff is 16-year-old Charlotte Buchalter from Hale Barns who said: “We’ve all got multiple roles in the company and I’ve been helping the production and sales teams.
“One of the girls came up with the original concept of recycling old corks into useful objects for sale and we’ve all been adding our ideas about what to produce.
“We make the different products but we don’t paint them and leave everything in the original cork colour.
“We obviously needed lots of corks and these have been collected at our school by members of the company, parents, teachers and friends.”
She added: “There was quite a bit of interest in our products at the Stretford Mall pop- up and it’s been very interesting to be involved in running our own business.
“I’ve not really thought yet about what I want to do for a career but I suppose going into business could possibly be an option.”
Suzanne Smith of Young Enterprise added: “It was a huge achievement for all the young people involved at Stretford Mall to set up and run their businesses alongside their studies.
“They also did very well to get everything ready in time for the pop-up, which did a brisk trade throughout the day.
“I would like to say a big thank you to Gareth Wilkins, Manager of Stretford Mall, for arranging for us to have space at the shopping centre.
“He understands the importance of encouraging young people into their own enterprises and developing their employability skills.
“He has also offered his time as a business adviser for the groups involved along with representatives of other organisations such as local banks, the Federation of Small Businesses and the accountants Price Waterhouse Cooper who I would also like to thank.”
For information about Stretford Mall go to www.stretfordmall.com follow @StretfordMall on Twitter or visit the centre’s Facebook page.