A group of 14-year old students from Wimbledon High School have become stationery entrepreneurs after retail businessman and TV Dragon, Theo Paphitis, gave them a surprise shot at bringing their Animouth pencil case design to life.
The case launched in 50 Ryman stores earlier this month, as part of the firm’s Back to School range.
Wimbledon High School was runner-up in the Ryman National Enterprise Challenge 2018 for 13-15 year olds, having competed against thousands of students across the UK to reach the finals.
At the finals, the group were tasked with designing a product for the Ryman Back to School range, and explaining how they would market it to their target audience.
The result, Animouth, is an animal-faced themed product in four styles: monkey, panda, penguin and lion. The two-way sequin pencil case, designed to appeal to the target market of 7-11 year olds, will retail at £4.99.
The students also created the hashtag #BackZooSchool, as part of a social media competition giving customers the opportunity to win a zoo-keeping experience at Drusilla’s Park.
Animouth impressed judge – and chairman of Ryman – Theo Paphitis to the degree that he personally invited them to pitch their idea to the Ryman buying team, which then worked alongside the pupils to create the product range.
Paphitis said: “The kids’ pitch was so articulate and on the money that I knew I couldn’t let the opportunity for them and Ryman slip by.
“Back to School is Ryman’s peak selling zone and the product is spot-on for what customers want: it’s fun, interactive, eye-catching. It’s their first step on the entrepreneur ladder and we’re delighted to support this.
“They’re fantastic young entrepreneurs, having created the product, the logo, the designs and supporting marketing ideas – retailers in the making.”
Jane Lunnon, head of Wimbledon High School, said: “We know our students are brimming with ideas and creativity, but to come up against one of the Dragons and come away with your design going into production is simply wonderful. We thank the National Enterprise Challenge for the opportunity and Ryman for their brilliant support and generosity.”