Henry Patterson aged 9, tipped by the Daily Mail as Britain’s youngest entrepreneur, three businesses in the bag, smashing targets by the bucket load and now a student on The Retail School’s recent visual merchandising course, WBC’s Maria Tross grabbed 5 minute lunch date with the young businessman to talk through his business portfolio, his plans for the future and his top tips for young entrepreneurs.
It seemed perfectly acceptable to steal Henry away from a 5 hour meta-class on visual merchandising and the fundamentals of retail success, after all, this 9 year old comes with proven credentials that have all manner of media talking. With a quick stroll in the sunshine, I wanted to nut out the things that make him tick.
Henry started his first ever business at 5 years old. It was one of those ideas that, in Henry’s words, is pretty much “staring-you-in-the-face-obvious-we-may-as-well-do-it” ideas. So he started selling horse manure from his back garden gate to passers-by, for a pound. At 6 years old, his entrepreneurial side took him online. An online eBay shop was set up with the USB of selling specifically themed bundles of toys varying from a Rubix Cube Cowboy to a Power Ranger with a tractor.
At 7, Henry already had two businesses under his belt, however his passion for books took over and Pip was born. Three years later, Henry, now 10, has written 6 books and won a wad of awards.
“I’ve always wanted to write a book” says Henry as we stroll up & down the estate “I used to write paper books and sell them through our post-box. People left money in the post-box after choosing their favourite.”
Henry set up his own online shop called Not Before Tea selling themed sweets as gifts with the aid of a few little helpers; Pip the mouse, Sherb the owl and their friends. This was the birth of Pip and Henry’s writing career, and it’s plummeted them into the path of press. And Henry has realised he and Pip have bigger adventures ahead, “I never imagined being here now. It started off as a way to get bonus pocket money, now it’s actually a bit more serious.”
Alongside Pip and his six written adventures, Not Before Tea also sells branded bags, pajamas, party invites, purses and much, much more. “My friends are my inspiration. It’s mostly based on inspiration with a little research” says Henry when I ask him where all his ideas come from. And he’s nailed it really; he has a clever selling point – all his products are “designed for children, by children.”
Henry has so much going for him and so much more to come; not least the opening of his first store in Buckingham this year, plus several more sequels to Pip’s adventures up his sleeve. Busy boy! So after mooching around for about 30 minutes, I get to the question that pretty much everyone asks him, “What are your top tips for a young entrepreneurs?” And his answer?
- Start a car boot sale. Simple. It allows you to learn how to talk to potential customers and learn how to display.”
- See what other people are selling similar products for.
The whole of WBC, including myself, have been gobsmacked by the maturity of how Henry runs his business – and does so without neglecting the honest innocence of a young person.
It’s magical. And ridiculously inspirational.