A Dales businesswoman who opened her own clothing store straight after leaving school has spoken out to offer advice to other budding entrepreneurs.
Ayesha Bell opened Airr Clothing in Wirksworth when she was just 17-years-old.
One year ago she relocated her “antique boutique” store to Wirksworth Market Place and in the coming weeks she will be opening another store in Derby’s highly fashionable Sadler Gate.
Ayesha said: “I’ve had to work extremely hard to make my business a success. As my friends were heading off to university, getting drunk and having fun, I was applying for bank loans, talking to suppliers and building my firm.”
But Ayesha does not regret missing out on an “easy life”.
“I love what I do, and if anybody who wants to start a business does not – then chances are it won’t work,” she said.
“If you enjoy and are passionate about your business, though, it comes a lot easier.”
But passion is not the only trick up Ayesha’s sleeve.
She said: “When I was starting out I often didn’t tell people how old I actually was as I didn’t want people not to take me seriously. It seemed to work and people were often very surprised when we met face-to-face.”
In the future Ayesha plans to expand the online side of Airr Clothing and aims to open more stores around the UK.
“I think our ethos of being a fairtrade and sustainable boutique where fashion, style and sustainability are not compromised is something that, especially in the wake of all the sweatshop disasters, is something that people are keen to support,” said Ayesha.
One of the main things Ayesha advises is to have courage of your convictions, follow your instinct and work “as hard as you can – then you’ll be a success”.