Vicky meets Amelia Phillips, young entrepreneur

Amelia. Photo: Rachel Poulton
Amelia. Photo: Rachel Poulton

Having the job title ‘Head of Cuddly Toy Choosing’ sounds fabulous, but it is a role that eleven-year-old Amelia from Birdham takes very seriously.

“I choose all the Jellycat cuddly toys we sell at Russells Garden Centre and, because I am a child, I think my favourites are likely to appeal to other children. The bunnies are always popular, but everyone has their own favourite. Polar bears and ostriches are selling very well at the moment,” said Amelia, who is proud to be the youngest buyer of Jellycat products in the UK.

“I sometimes order stock at one of the big trade shows, otherwise I order through the catalogue. I have to deal with the Jellycat supplier and I am responsible for displaying the stock when it arrives. Mum and dad leave me to it now,” she told me with a grin.

Amelia’s business education started almost two years ago. Finally persuading her parents to let her be responsible for a product that Russells would stock, she picked Jellycat toys. They quickly became best-sellers.

Admitting their daughter’s choice more than justifies her role in their enterprise, mum Lesley said: “She has to negotiate and interact with the reps and they don’t make allowances for the fact that she is a child. They are all very nice, but ultimately this is business.”

Agreeing that it has helped sharpen her maths skills, Amelia, a pupil at Portsmouth High School for Girls, loves picking toys as birthday presents for her friends.

“But it’s not just kids who love Jellycats. Adults buy them for their friends too. They are so soft and lovely to cuddle and they have loads of character.”

Passing me a super-soft penguin to stroke, Amelia told me about another aspect of the business that she is involved in: the fundraising that Russells does for The Sussex Snowdrop Trust. A rolling project that sees the store selling second hand wooden furniture for the charity, every year they also host a fundraising Festive Fun Day.

“This year our Santa & Antlers event is on Sunday 26 November. Children can visit Santa in his reindeer stable and receive a gift, as well as meeting and feeding two of his reindeer. The Penny Black Choir and the Inclusive Music & Movement choir are singing and Nick Clark will be doing two magic shows. There will be lots of activities and a grand raffle, plus we have got the biggest Christmas display we have ever had. It’s going to be brilliant,” promised Amelia.

But as well as fun and festive feeling, she knows that the event has a definite purpose.

“It is always a really lovely day, but raising lots of money for The Sussex Snowdrop Trust is so important. They help so many very poorly local children and their families.”

The Santa & Antlers Festive Fun Day in aid of the Sussex Snowdrop Trust is at Russells Garden Centre on Sunday 26 November. More info: www.russellsgardencentre.com 01243 512525

Photo: Rachel Poulton