By Josie Armitage
Children aged 11-15 had the unique opportunity to show their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit through The Creative Enterprise Challenge – a one-week, sustainably focused programme which took place at Sunny Bank Mills during the school summer holidays and October half term.
The PIECES Project is a new not-for-profit venture for Sami Lovett, a product designer and workshop instructor who is passionate about sustainability. She designs and makes bespoke products using reclaimed materials and also teaches sustainable creative workshops.
Throughout her career, Sami has worked in secondary schools, colleges and universities as a workshop instructor to help people of all ages turn their ideas into viable products. Whilst working in secondary schools, she noticed that there was an opportunity that schools were missing to inspire and empower young minds to become creators.
In 2022 Sami launched The Creative Enterprise Challenge which is a unique learning experience to harness the power of creativity to motivate young people to become entrepreneurial. Since February 2022, Sami has coached almost 400 young people and has inspired 38 product design businesses to come to life.
The Creative Enterprise Challenge: Over five days, ten students are split into two teams of five to meet a sustainable design brief that involves designing a brand, product, marketing video and start-up business plan. They design and make their own products using recycled materials and learn handicraft, graphic design and digital fabrication skills in Just Lovett Design’s workshop throughout the week.
All the wood used in the products made by the students originates from re-used wooden boxes and plywood sheets supplied by Morley Glass, a Leeds-based manufacturer of double glazed window units that feature integral blinds. The company has also sponsored the Creative Enterprise to Challenge Scheme to help Sami get the programme up and running in 2022.
The students also learn business skills to enable them to cost out their products to make a profit at retail. At the end of the week, each team has its ‘Dragon’s Den’ moment where they present and pitch their creations to an expert panel of judges who are successful entrepreneurs themselves.
Sami invited a range of people from local businesses to be judges. I was a judge over the summer (I run my own business Josie Armitage Associates supporting not-for-profits to source grant funding opportunities, advise them and help them to complete funding applications).
The children presented their ‘pitch’ to us very confidently and knowledgeably and it was great to see the creative designs and products they had developed. They had definitely learnt negotiation skills as they put me and my fellow judge Caroline Joynson from Cheerleader PR through our paces to agree on a deal.
Sami said: “The Creative Enterprise Challenge aims to educate and inspire children, who will walk away at the end of the week with so much more than a product and a business plan.
“We’ve seen the transformation that’s possible in just one week in previous programmes, with the children often starting the week a little nervous but by the end of the week they’ve made new friends and really built their confidence.”
Sami and her team are planning to run the Creative Enterprise Challenge in Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley during the school holidays in 2024. She is planning to bring the challenge through outreach to different places across Leeds.
To register your interest in future challenges and/or make contact with Sami to discuss bringing the challenge to a venue near you, find out more here.