Leave school with top marks, graduate from university with a first-class honours, then do a PHD in business, is often the message young people hear of what it means to succeed.
However, one woman is breaking the mould to prove that determination and entrepreneurial flair is just as important – if not more important – than grades.
Meet Carly Thompsett, who left school at 15 with very few GCSEs and was told due to her dyslexia, she wouldn’t amount to much anyway so why bother trying.
Yet Carly is having the last laugh, as she now runs her up-and-coming clothes shop and has been nationally recognised for her achievements.
Oh, and did we mention she’s also had the royal seal of approval from Prince Charles?!
Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Carly told us about her journey and the inspiration behind kickstarting Anaphase Store – selling designs ranging in sizes from new-born to 5XL.
Carly said: “After leaving school, I got a job and started at college for three years, which I did both full-time. I did hair and beauty for the first year, then art and design for the last two.
“I wanted to become a fashion designer, that was my calling in life, my room was always piled high with art books and designs, I was always making things and I just never knew what to do with them. I did all this while I became a manager at my job and I continued working for a total of six years, but I started to lose interest, so I left to change my career.
“From that moment on, I never really stuck to a job, I bounced around every six months to a new job. I eventually became a mobile carer for the elderly, which I did enjoy because I was always on the move and not stuck in the same place. But then I lost my grandad and felt I needed to live my life, so I quit my job, packed my things and I moved to Cardiff in 2013.
“This was one of the most painful things I had to deal with, and it really shook me up. I felt lost, but I also look back at this time as an inspirational moment as I started my life again. I can’t even explain how I did this and thinking back now scares me how I just upped and left.”
Once Carly had moved, she had to continue working to make ends meet, until one day she woke up desperate to pursue her dream and knew what she had to do.
Carly explained: “I bit the bullet and quit my job, I thought if I don’t do it now, I won’t ever do it, so I Googled ‘how to start a business’, and one of the first results that popped up was The Prince’s Trust. I called in, explained I wanted to start a business, and asked if they could help me.”
The Prince’s Trust is a youth charity – founded by Prince Charles in 1976 – that helps young people aged 11 to 30 get into jobs, education and training. In particular, they focus on helping the vulnerable get their lives on track if they are unemployed or struggling at school.
Carly was elated to hear that they could offer her a place on their Enterprise Programme which she accepted and has never looked back.
She revealed: “I wasn’t expecting much from the course but was pleasantly surprised at how much information I didn’t know I needed to know to run a business; and the depth of the course was amazing. I had a new lease of life and excitement for my new journey.
“I worked with them to do my business plan and had weekly meet-ups to go through all my information to make sure I had everything I needed before I went to launch group – which is like Dragons’ Den and so scary. Then my adventure began, Anaphase Clothing was born.”
Despite being given a mentor to help her throughout the journey, the reality of kickstarting her own business was still tricky and one that required various twists and turns before hitting success.
Carly said: “My business was slow to start off with which did dishearten me a little, especially as I thought I’d be a millionaire by the first month. But I wasn’t ready to give up, so I got a full-time job to help with the costs and kept my business going on the side, it has picked up a lot and has been a bumpy ride, but I still see potential in myself.
“In 2017, I changed the business name and have since developed an online following on social media, I have my website that gets a lot of attention, I am verified on Facebook, and The Tomorrow store that is run by The Prince’s Trust also stock my items on their online platform.
“I was also given a free shop on eBay to help with sales and invited to eBay’s head office in London to attend a day on how to have the best postings; eBay then featured me on their homepage on a day they raise money for The Prince’s Trust.”
Carly currently represents the Trust as a young ambassador, whereby she is invited to events to do speeches on how the Trust helped her and where she can promote her business.
She has also received plenty of notoriety after winning the Trust’s Enterprise Award in 2018 and even meeting Prince Charlie himself who laughed at her ‘don’t touch my hair’ jumper and told her he loves eBay before being invited to his 70th birthday at Buckingham Palace!
The rising star was contacted by her local council too, to join a programme that visits schools around the city to share inspirational stories to help children realise there is a life outside of the school walls and anyone can do anything they put their mind to.
Now, Carly is on a mission to use not only her personal story but also the items she sells to inspire people and improve their wellbeing.
She concluded: “Fashion, art, even our bath-bombs can boost someone, just the thought of pampering yourself can bring that calming and chilling feeling – and also feeling like a boss babe.
“We do a lot of different products that we hope can make someone feel better. We are here to support everyone in whatever journey they are going through.”
Not content with that, Carly is also elevating herself in the business world as much as she can, studying the English legal system in her spare time; including employment law to help her understand her rights and her employees’ rights to make her company work smoother.
She also studied digital marketing for business to up her game and make sure she takes full advantage on the sites that can work for her business.
Carly added: “The message I give to everyone or if I am asked for a quote, it is, ‘don’t live a “what if” life’, don’t live with regrets, always say yes to any opportunity given to you as you never know how it will impact you, don’t watch or try to compete with people as everyone has a different journey, live and own your journey and make your life/business you own.”
To grab some last minute Christmas gifts, click here: Anaphase Store.