Having seen their presentation at the YELothian Awards night, and with encouragement from fellow 3rdimagazine member Jackie Cameron who coaches many young entrepreneurs from across the region, I spoke with Glassact’s MD Rachel
Rachel, thank you for sharing your success story. Tell us about Glass Act
Glassact is a company that makes handmade quirky tealight holders from 100% recycled glass
How did you came up with the idea
We came up with the idea as we felt that if we didn’t have to buy our raw materials technically our profit margins would be larger and currently recycling and being Eco friendly is at the forefront of people’s minds. Furthermore we also needed a material that would be in plentiful supply all year round and what better than wine bottles because people will always have a need to drink wine!
However when looking over the wine bottle in its full form we felt there was very little we could do to it to make it appealing to potential customers so we decided to cut the bottles in half and use both halves so there was no waste – however the cutting the bottles proved to be a lot more of a challenge than we’d first anticipated but the end results were exactly what we’d hoped for. In the end the decoration of the bottles to form our best seller where we surrounded the bottles with twigs came from our want to recycle and as our main market was around Christmas time it gave a rustic Christmassy feel to our candle holders.
How did you find working as a team?
I loved working as part of and leading the team. We all got on extremely well and we all worked together to get the job done as we all were desperate to succeed. Together we all had many different strengths and were therefore able to battle through any problems we faced together, something that would not have been achieveable if our team wasn’t as dedicated and determined as ours was. I am incredibly proud of all my team.
How did you sell your products?
The majority of our selling was done through farmers markets and local Christmas fairs. However our main selling point, and goal to get all of our stock ready by, was the Christmas trade fair at the Apex Hotel in the Grassmarket set up by Young Enterprise. However we also took orders from friends and family and from fellow students and staff within the school.
Could you outline your experience of making the presentation at the awards night? Was it useful/enjoyable?
The awards night was so interesting as it allowed us to see what similar difficulties/success that other companies within the program had gone through. The preparation for the evening allowed us to learn about the importance of talking slowly and clearly and keeping to time during the presentation so we wouldn’t be faced with the terrifying buzzer! Partaking in the presentations really allowed us to convey our passion for our product and express our journey to the audience. It was completely nerve-racking standing on the stage looking down at everyone trying to make what you’re saying as interesting as possible so they didn’t switch off, but we managed to get through without anyone falling asleep so that was a plus!
Across the whole Young Enterprise experience, what were the highs? What were the lows?
The biggest problem we were faced with during our experience was when we couldn’t for the want of trying get our glass cutter to cut the glass in the way we wanted it too. We spent four months battling with it and were in such despair as to what to try next that we actually abandoned the idea for a while. However every other idea we came up with was a 100 times worse than the previous so we then made the decision that we were just going to have to stick at it and hope for the best. With one week to the Apex event we had nothing when all of a sudden our operations and sales director Emma had figured out a way to cut the glass. The next week was absolutely hectic as we had to make 50 products to meet our desired stock level but we managed! The highlight of the experience for all of us was the Christmas Trade Fair at the Apex hotel. We all really enjoyed liaising with the customers and other teams, trying to haggle deals sell as much stock as we could and out sell our competition. It was really exciting and rewarding as this was the first time for us that we had money coming into the business instead of leaving it.
Will you continue with Glass Act?
We’ve all continued with Glassact up until now but due to the fact that we are all heading off to different universities all over Scotland sadly it would be impractical to continue with Glassact.
Has your ye experience made you more likely to consider a career in business/ consider starting a business?
For me it definitely has. Before this year I had never considered going into business at all but I decided to crash higher business and do YE in 6th year. As a result I had already applied to do geography at university and been accepted but hopefully I can take business modules and if I still enjoy it as much after the first 2 years I could change my degree path to a business degree. The whole thing has really opened my eyes into the world of business and is definitely something I would consider for my future.
Would you recommend YE to other students?
If other students have the time to do it and the determination to do well then I would definitely recommend it to them. YE is a lot of hard work and you have to give up a lot of your free time and have a high level of commitment but if you can do that the things you gain from this experience are endless and well worth everything you’ve put in.
Thank you to Rachel for giving up her free time after her examinations to tell the Glassact story!
Everyone here at the3rdimagazine wishes you and everyone in the team, and indeed all of the other amazing young people who took part this year, all the very best with your future careers.