A schoolgirl from Shaftesbury has been adding colour and sustainability to local lunchboxes. Alfred met the 13-year-old entrepreneur who has started upcycling unwanted fabrics to make reusable sandwich wraps.
When Grace Kirby signed up to the Tenner Challenge, a test of production, marketing and retail skills, she knew which project to pursue. Grace and her fellow Year 10 classmates at Gillingham School are competing to see who can get the biggest return on an investment.
“Our teachers get given £100 and then each group gets £10. We have to make as much profit as we can with our £10,” said Grace, who explained that the process teaches some valuable business lessons, whether each group’s idea works or not. “You still have to pay it back but with that one-pound interest.”
Grace has come up with a new product which has its own verb. “I’m doing ‘Kling Kling’. It’s wraps for your sandwiches, which keep them nice and moist for at least six hours.” Grace has been using her mum’s sewing machine to fashion the material into a type of pouch. “It’s made of remnants of fabric. My mum’s friend has another friend who has scrap fabric and nothing to do with it, so I reuse it and make it into sandwich wraps,” she said.
Grace picks materials with vibrant patterns to liven up lunchboxes. “We use vintage fabrics just so it looks nicer,” she said. The wraps are reusable, hand washable and you can run a hot iron over them. And Grace says they are more resilient than the beeswax wraps which are currently popular. “My brothers at home used to have beeswax but they washed it in water that was too hot, and it became crumpled up.”
The project has a worthy goal. It aims to encourage people to ditch single use plastics, such as the readily available sandwich wraps. Grace is a fan of the Plastic Free Shaftesbury initiative. “I just think there are so many problems with plastic and how it is going to waste. It’s better for the town to be plastic free,” she said.
Grace has been selling her sandwich wraps at an appropriate venue – the plastic-free shop Coconut & Cotton in Swan’s Yard. When Alfred spoke to Grace at the weekend, they’d been on sale for three days and had already proved popular. “I sold my 50th yesterday,” she beamed.
This is a school project, but Grace hopes to continue with her business once the classroom challenge is over. “I’ve spoken to my teacher and talked with my mum and they thought that it is doing so well I should carry it on,” said Grace.
Grace’s mum, Georgie Faulkner-Bryant, owns the Shaftesbury-based Big Beautiful Bunting Company, so Grace has had business and marketing advice on tap. “We’ve had lots of mini- meetings and talks about what we can do in the future,” said Grace, who wants to expand the business. “I’m hopefully going to start with school PTAs. My little brother goes to Abbey Primary and I was going to go through nearby primaries and their events,” she said.
The wraps retail at £4 pounds each and you can add a bamboo straw for £1. You can find Grace’s project on Facebook at KlingKlingShaftesbury or buy the wraps at Coconut & Cotton.