This year is the 25th anniversary of when I started my own business, what’s that you say? I don’t look old enough? Well I wasn’t. I was 11 and I had a 1990’s hit of making scrunchies. Me and my Mum would sit at the kitchen table making them and then I would take them into school, sell them and split the profits with my her when I arrived home. Hang on a minute, did she have me doing child labour and I didn’t even realise? I digress […]
It all started with a friend who lived in my street that went away every summer. This particular year she had been to Spain and when she got back had brought me a present. Two scrunchies, one neon green and one neon orange in satin fabric. My Mum, who made lots of my clothes in the 1980’s & 1990’s [Matching doesn’t-she-look-cute outfits] said “I bet we could make those, I just need to take it apart and see how it’s made” (The pre-internet way).
So we got to work and took some measurements, selected a stack of fabric and got cutting and sewing, Mum doing the sewing machine work and me doing the cutting, threading and stitching the elastic.
I took them to school to see if I had the demographic for sales, now I will admit I cannot remember the first time I took them in but I do remember they were a hit and at break time I had hoards of customers around me shouting which colour and pattern they wanted and passing me their money. [20p for cotton, 50p for velvet] Then we would make more scrunchies to stock up in the range we needed.
This went on for quite a while until the hoards of customers were spotted by a dinner lady (whom was a friends Mum and I thought would have been on my side) She thought I was being attacked and ran over and was shocked to discover my scrunchie business being run in the corner of the playground. I was told I wasn’t allowed to do that (gosh the red tape involved in business, hey?) so I had to do what I had to do. I went undercover, I had people pass me in the halls, classroom, playground asking in hushed whispers “Hey have you got any scrunchies on you?” I told them to meet me in my new shop locations, to keep the business alive.
The Business Competition and Attempted Merger.
After a while and the news getting around school about the girl with the scrunchies, another girl from the year above in school befriended me, which I thought was nice. Then she started asking questions about my scrunchies, which led to asking if she could help me sell them for a cut of the profits. I have never been so firm about anything before or since. But the answer was a solid no, I mean what kind of proposition was that? Everyone knew who had the scrunchies, I didn’t need staff. So she then asked how we made them and that herself and her mum could help us make them […] and split the profits. Oh I see, your mum is in on this now; No.
She became angry at my consistent reluctance to become involved in a partnership, I wasn’t looking to float my company right now.
She unfriended me in the 90’s school way, by now giving me the evil eyes in the hall and occasional shoulder shoves, and one more attempt at joining Rebecca Martin Designs v. 1.0.
She then decided to start her own business, selling sweets, she set up shop behind the CDT (Craft, Design and Technology) block, near the smokers. She knew her customer.
She did quite well, but there were always glances, she wanted my business but she couldn’t have it and became competition. But competition is good, it makes you both work harder, and it’s not like we were selling the same product. She had to tout quite a lot, I still had people coming to me direct. She eventually gave up her business, I don’t think she was getting out of it what she thought she would and I think she also wanted a partner and I didn’t. Apart from the partner at home, my Mum.
Then a new girl started in my class and we became friends but she was always copying me in class and in the playground, she would also do and say things that wound me up like never before. Then one day she brought in her collection of friendship bracelets that she had been making (from a kit) and people liked them but didn’t know how to make them […] so wanted them. They were the new 90’s fad.
She also brought in ‘autographs’ and attempted to sell them too. They were supposedly from people like Take That and oh I don’t know, Let Loose or someone as equally popular at the time. They were on scraps of paper with very defined writing, which if anyone that's ever had an autograph done for them knows, you get a mere scribble. But good on her for trying to find her business niche. It didn't last long and I was back to being the only business on the block.
I would save my profit cut and spend it on my new joy of going to a local chemist buying products to display on my shelves and bath pearls from Boots. I had bowls of the things. I had no time for the business anymore with my new hobbies and extra spends from my parents and matched spends from my Nanna, also there are only so many scrunchies people need. So I wound the business down and decided to move onto pastures new, I was 12 now, after all.
Scrunchies are available in my shop for a limited period.