TAKING ON Young Enterprise when your school’s last team made it to the national finals is a tough act to follow – but more entrepreneurs at Alleyne’s High School are well on their way to the top for the second year running.
The Sock Tree have clinched the county championships and are now setting their sights on the regional finals next week.
The 19-strong team create and sell cute animal toys made from socks. Alongside the more traditional sock monkeys there are sock pigs, a sock nail and even a “socktopus”.
Some of the sock-based simians also have outfits – the company’s mascot Charlie is kitted out his own mini Alleyne’s High School uniform and there is a bride and groom for a monkey-loving couple preparing to walk down the aisle themselves.
Ryan Walker, who runs operations for the company, said: “We found the idea online – sock monkeys are a Canadian folk toy. We wanted to bring them to the High Street market.
"We bought the socks from various places, it was a mix of local suppliers and designer socks as well. Clint the snail is stuffed with waste material and we had some tights donated.”
Some of the team are studying textiles and their sewing skills have been put to good use to make the creatures. They have proved a hit with customers of all ages, selling well at trade and craft fairs across the county. The team are even in talks with local shops to get the monkeys on the shelves.
“Winning the county competition was fantastic, I wasn’t expecting it,” Ryan said.
Sales director Charlie Bruce added: “It was nice to go there and win because there was some good competition. But this product can go far and there is the diversification. The sales figures are pretty impressive.”
Last year Alleyne’s High School team Versaleaf were in the national finals. Their product, Knotthebag, proved popular with style and environment conscious shoppers looking for a bag with a twist – the twist being Japanese knotting techniques.
Versaleaf’s leader, Alison Norbury, picked up an award at the nationals for her leadership skills and the experience she gained from Young Enterprise opened the door to work experience opportunities.
Alison, currently in Year 13 at Alleyne’s has also been helping her successors at The Sock Tree as an advisor.
Next year’s Alleyne’s team have a lot to live up to –perhaps they will make it a hat trick of wins!