Minerva Learning Trust
4th May 2021

The Big Challenge Winners 2021

In this blog, Big Challenge winners Ella and Ellen (both Y7) write about their ‘Cosy Nose Buff co’ company and their journey to victory. In a year when extra-curricular opportunities were seriously limited by the pandemic, we were so proud that so many Y7s got involved in the Big Challenge and that this wonderful duo won!

We entered the BiG Challenge because we felt like it would be something new to do, and we didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity like it even if we didn’t get into the actual competition. We did get through, and then we started expanding our original idea to create more buffs, be more environmentally friendly, and increase profit!

To come up with the idea, we first thought of our skills and resources, and realised that Ellen knew how to sew (and had a sewing machine) and Ella knew how knit (and had a hand loom)! We decided to make buffs because we knew many people who would like one, and they are more useful & interesting than scarfs or hats, because you can use them as both. We came up with the name Cosy Nose Buffs thanks to our friend who thought up ‘cosy nose buff co’ which we then shortened.

To make the buffs we use a knitting machine- which we invested in when we realised it took too long to make them with a hand loom- to knit the wool part, then we sewed a t- shirt lining on to the inside of the buff using a sewing machine. We glued our logo onto a piece of green card and tied it on using leftover wool.

To market our product online, we created an Instagram & Facebook account, as well as an e-mail address. We also made leaflets which we posted through the doors of houses on our roads and around our area. We managed to get a place at the High Storrs Christmas fair, although sadly nobody bought any buffs there. We would often post a picture of a buff or one of our landscape photos to balance out our feed.

We sold most of our buffs by word of mouth, and the rest at community events and online sales. While we were in lockdown, we only sold to friends and family since it was difficult to sell to others. Towards the end of the selling period, we had 3 major sales and sold to many people we didn't know, which built our confidence in talking in public!

Usually, all those entering the Big Challenge would meet up in school every few weeks, but this year we only had the chance to meet up twice. Fortunately, Mr. Bennehan sent us lots of helpful emails telling us about the different events going on, although we would have liked to meet up in school more.

We put a lot of effort into the final report and we were very happy when we got through to the finals. We then had a few weeks to put together a presentation about our business. Normally all the businesses that got through would see the judges in person and present their idea to them (a bit like dragon's den), but because of Covid we each had a fifteen-minute slot on zoom.

A few weeks later (24 March 2021) there was the prize giving. All the business joined, and we were both incredibly nervous. They first went through the runners up, which were Delightful Dog Accessories, Hearty and Pixscribble. They talked a bit about the struggles businesses have faced with the pandemic and how we have all learned so much over the past year and had some special guests. After that they announced the winners, our name came up on the screen and we were so surprised. They then asked us a bit about a business and Mr. Bennehan joined us. We were honestly amazed, and we won a £500 virgin experience voucher!

In the future, Ella plans to carry on with the business in the winter, but she’s not decided what to sell in the summer yet. She kept the knitting machine so she can carry on whenever she wants to.