Teen girl turned GCSE project into business – and she’s made £17k in sales so far

Anna Staal with dad Andrew, mum Charlotte and sister Natalie (Image: SevenYays)

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A teenager who transformed a GCSE project into a real-life business has already turned over £17,000 in sales after launching only last month.

Anna Staal, 17, from Manchester, came up with the idea of creating a customisable advent calendar for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.

The entrepreneurial teen said she was inspired to design SevenYays after wondering why we only had advent calendars for Christmas.

But after sharing the school project with her parents – dad Andrew 48, and mum Charlotte, 49 – the family decided to turn the idea it into a fully-fledged company.

Anna said: “I asked the question: ‘why don’t we have advent calendars for birthdays?’

“This stuck with me and my dad as a great idea but it wasn’t until the first lockdown in 2020 when, with unexpected time on our hands we started to turn my idea into a viable product.

“The original prototype was made out of Lego!”

Here are some of the products you can have in your SevenYays calendar
(Image: SevenYays)

The family tested the concept – which helped score Anna a grade 7 in her GCSEs, the equivalent of an A – by gifting a few prototypes to family and friends, using their savings to set up the business.

After receiving great feedback, they knew they had a winning concept and pushed ahead with turning the school project into a proper business.

SevenYays officially launched in June 2021 and in just eight weeks, has turned over £17,000 in sales.

Retailing with a starting price of around £30, SevenYays is a seven day gift calendar where customers can choose their own gifts, box cover, card and message.

The family admit the business is in its "early days" but say they're reinvesting their margins back into advertising to raise more awareness of their brand.

The family plan on expanding the SevenYays brand
(Image: SevenYays)

Dad Andrew said: "Our priority is to spread awareness of SevenYays and the joy of sharing.

"At the same time we are already thinking about expanding our range as there are so many people who are asking us for more gifts to choose for kids and teens’ boxes."

Andrew says the gift calendars can be used for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, weddings, anniversaries or even holidays.

The gifts you can choose range from gin, to beauty items such as sleep masks and socks, and even books and tech items.

In total, there are 130 different gifts to choose from.

For anyone else thinking about starting their own business, Anna says you should focus on something you're interested in – and be sure to get plenty of feedback.

She said: "Make sure you invest in yourself and keep learning. Finally, have a clear strategy and plan and make sure you keep testing it.

"Get feedback from others as well – people love to help."

The Mirror has heard from scores of small business that have flourished after being set up during lockdown.

We spoke to two friends who set up their own clothing company last year – now their brand is worn by celebrities and is set to turn over £1million.

We also reported on how one mum who was once homeless is now on track to make £100,000 in sales after setting up her own business.

In another lockdown success story, we spoke to a fitness buff who set up his own gym equipment business and now makes £5million.

And another entrepreneur who had the very bright idea of setting up a neon lights firm is about to hit his first £1million.

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