At the age of 15, Bryony started her business, Precious Stars, whilst bed-bound with Lyme disease.
Though she had initially continued to go to school whilst suffering from the illness, the neurological impairments (like forgetting how to get dressed) made it almost impossible to maintain her education that way and so, eventually, she dropped out. What for others would be a massive set-back, became the opportunity that Bryony needed.
Starting a business whilst being bed-bound
Bryony’s entrepreneurial spirit began at the age of 11 when she first started to plan her own business. Dropping out,becoming ‘unschooled’ and spending long-periods of time in the confines of her bed, gave Bryony the time to focus on making this plan a reality.
Having a period whilst being stuck in bed presented both a challenge and an opportunity. In discovering the solution that menstrual cups and period cloths offered, Bryony realised that the market for reusable, long-lasting period products was undersatured, with most of the production coming from a selection of small companies. With her knowledge of sewing, she began making period cloths, raising awareness via her Youtube channel and starting to sell her homemade products on Etsy. Furthermore, alongside the personal problem that she was solving, Bryony recognised the impact that disposable period pads were having on the environment, with one pad containing the same amount of single use plastic as 4 plastic bags and taking 450 years to break down. A few month’s later, Precious Stars was born.
Achieving growth without investment
At 15 years old, the ownership of Bryony’s Etsy and PayPal account were in her parents’ name so it wasn’t until her 18th birthday that the account was switched to her name and she became the official owner of Precious Stars. As the popularity of the products increased, Bryony started to sell on her own self-made website with home-edited videos to market the pads.
Her first experience of having a loan was when she paid her mum back for an industrial sewing machine to help with scaling up her production. Ever since then, she hasn’t sourced any external funding, but has instead focused on keeping the growth entirely organic. This has allowed Bryony to gradually grow the business whilst ensuring that she remains in control of the numbers even as they increased from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds worth of sales each month.
Creating a network
At a time when all of her friends were studying for their A-Levels and looking at universities, Byrony was keen to get to know like-minded entrepreneurial people. It was by chance she stumbled across Yena and although she ‘didn’t become a part of the community for the connections, [she] inevitably made them’. Many Yena members have now helped Bryony out with different areas of her business, such as her website and insurance, which before she found an ‘absolute nightmare’.
In the past year, Bryony has become a foster parent alongside the running of her now 7 year old business, proving she is never afraid of a new challenge. Due to the current Covid19 crisis she has taken to manufacturing a range of Precious Stars at home to keep the business up and running, but, more than even, she is keen to spread the message that periods can be ‘eco-friendly and fun’.
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Written by Olivia Brooks