29 April 2022
An exciting new addition to Sydenham High School’s Careers Programme took place this week, with year 10 participating in the Business Challenge Day. The whole year group were taken ‘off timetable’ to devote the day to creating a product and presenting their ideas to a panel of judges. Event hosts Librarian & Careers Lead, Mrs Pett and Kim Kimura, Careers & Employability Manager at the GDST, were joined by business experts Sydenham High alumna Jacynth Bassett (Class of 2010), who gave the keynote speech, and Notting Hill & Ealing High School alumna Priya Chandé, CMO of &SISTERS.
Jacynth runs The Bias Cut, a first age-inclusive multi-label premium womenswear online shopping platform, that aims to lead the way for social change and challenging ageism in the fashion industry. The Bias Cut has over 36 labels, a global customer base and a community that reaches over 10,000 and has featured in national press and has numerous celebrity fans. Jacynth is a recognised “Ageism-Fighting Trailblazer”, pioneering age-inclusivity in fashion and regularly comments on the topic. She was one of the Evening Standard’s “22 Londoners Changing The World In 2022” for International Women’s Day.
Priya is an experienced marketeer whose most recent role has been to lead the marketing and commercial strategy as CMO at &SISTERS which has dreamt up a model for a new kind of period product – one that was better for our bodies, better for the planet, and ensuring that women and girls worldwide had better access to the highest quality, sustainable period products.
The group of future entrepreneurs warmed up by completing the Spaghetti Challenge in their teams and then assigned themselves to individual roles with thin their business such as market research or finance, with sessions looking at product design, developing branding, logos and slogans.
After films of Bias Cut fashion shoots, in her keynote speech, Jacynth outlined her journey from being a Cambridge Law graduate to launching a fashion business in 2016 and being an award-winning anti-ageism activist. Jacynth explained that, with her whole life being geared towards becoming a barrister, realising that she didn’t enjoy law was a huge ‘mind-blowing’ shock. But her time at Cambridge was far from in vain – she not only graduated with a Law degree but as President of the Cambridge Law Society, she implemented a restructuring of one of the oldest and largest societies in the world and was responsible for a budget of £100k and a 20-strong committee of people. Her ‘lightbulb’ moment came in her second year at Cambridge when she decided she could turn her passion for fashion into a business – a fashion-shopping platform that challenged the ageism bias. With no experience in fashion, or contacts or track record, Jacynth did her research, used her female networking connections with law firms to launch her ideas and collaborated with other brands to make her business grow from a one-woman band to a team of five which is launching its own fashion label next season.
Jacynth’s key messages about being an entrepreneur:
- Find your own rhythm and pace of working.
- In a female-led enterprise, misogyny may be present in the way your company is perceived by investors but don’t let that deter you
- Have a clear vision and values and don’t compromise on those
- You will need resilience – learn from your errors. Your life will be disrupted and you may struggle at times financially initially. If you work alongside your mental health, not against it, you can ‘ride out the waves’.
Teams presented their finished product ideas along with a one minute advert and received individual feedback from both Jacynth and Priya before awards were presented for best idea, best presentation, best ad, and best team. We are sure that some of these keen entrepreneurs have bright futures ahead!