I've just written to our Secretary of State, Justine Greening, to try and encourage more teaching of entrepreneurship from primary school to University level. In a country where so many wonderful subjects are taught, this valuable skill seems so sorely missing in our curriculum and in that of many education systems around the world.
I am a 25 year old entrepreneur from London. I started my sustainable fashion business, Tom Cridland, aged 23 in 2014 with a £6,000 government start-up loan and have since grown it with no further investment to a turnover of £1m. Last year, we launched The 30 Year Sweatshirt, a garment with a 30 Year Guarantee to encourage an industry trend to protect our natural resources by making truly durable clothing. I have also launched sister businesses: Tom Cridland Public Relations, which represents a diverse roster of over 20 clients, and Tom Cridland Entertainment, which is producing a record at Abbey Road and developing a music documentary. It's not an exaggeration to say that starting these businesses have transformed my life and made it possible to do what I love for a living.
Before starting this business, I was a lazy University student who scraped a 2:1 in Modern Languages from Bristol and then, briefly, a trainee accountant who hated their job so much they would have rather spent the day cleaning up dog excrement. I was trapped and encouraged by those around me not to think outside the box, not to persevere with the Tom Cridland brand and to stick with something I was not suited to. There are many accountants out there who love their jobs and would hate to do what I do, including my own mother, so this is not an anti-accountancy essay. The point is that we need to be taught to think entrepreneurially from an early age. That is not to say everyone needs to start their own business, you can still benefit if you're a member of staff at a restaurant or an analyst at a big finance firm. Taking initiative and not blindly assuming the advice we're being given or method we've been taught is the best one is crucial to the evolution of our society. Entrepreneurial endeavour is also the lifeblood of a healthy economy.
I feel so strongly I am launching a campaign to encourage the government to place a greater emphasis on business training and entrepreneurship in our education system. It would be an understatement of monumental proportions to say that starting a business can transform a young person's life or thinking like an entrepreneur could improve the working situation of a beleaguered executive.
The Entrepreneur's Shirt is a joint project between my brand, Tom Cridland, and the charities Young Enterprise and DEKI: a sustainable oxford shirt that benefits entrepreneurs, in Britain and in the developing world. More than that, however, it is a passionate campaign that I am launching for more teaching of an entrepreneurial nature, from primary school level to University and beyond. It does not matter whether you run a bootstrapped start-up or are climbing the ladder at a corporate institution; people knowing how businesses work as a result of their education would result in higher levels of confidence and productivity.
During my journey as an entrepreneur my experiences have included Jeremy Corbyn spilling coffee on my trousers during a one on one breakfast before a BBC Radio 4 interview, being backstage at Elton John concerts and making clothing for the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Stiller, Rod Stewart, Hugh Grant, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Piven, Nigel Olsson, Brandon Flowers, Robbie Williams, Nile Rodgers, Stephan Merchant, Frankie Valli, Daniel Craig, Neil Young, Danny McBride, Clint Eastwood and Kendrick Lamar. They've also included my bank balance hitting £0 several times in the early days, manufacturing problems and working till the early hours of the morning all week.
It is a labour of love, however, and I think more people in the wider world would benefit from more exposure to entrepreneurship from an early age. Even if they don't want to start businesses of their own, they can learns trait which will enable them to make more informed career decisions in general.
You can find out more about The Entrepreneur's Shirt here.