Annoushka Ducas MBE announced as Milton Abbey’s next Entrepreneur in Residence

Milton Abbey School is delighted to announce that Annoushka Ducas MBE, the co-founder of Links of London and more recently the jewellery brand Annoushka, will be our next Entrepreneur in Residence for 2018/19.

Annoushka Ducas co-founded Links of London in 1990 with her husband John Ayton. The premise was simple and in many ways ahead of its time: that if women liked jewellery, they might actually want to buy it for themselves, rather than wait to receive it as a gift.  The chain expanded rapidly and was sold in 2006.  Annoushka then founded her boutique firm Annoushka, selling fine jewellery, mainly for women, featuring 18-carat gold and semi-precious and precious stones.    There are two stores in London, one in Hong Kong and a very healthy online business as well.

Annoushka said, “I have benefitted so much from the privilege and freedom of running my own business. It’s fantastic that Milton Abbey is working so hard to promote entrepreneurship and I have no doubt that their mentoring scheme will help to instil a real sense of confidence and self-belief into many budding entrepreneurs.”

Milton Abbey’s Entrepreneur in Residence scheme is now in its fifth year.  It brings a successful business leader into the school to adjudicate in a ‘Dragons Den’ style competition, in which £500 of seed funding for a business idea has to be developed into a fully-fledged business proposition. Business surgeries with the entrepreneurs are a golden opportunity for the teams to get advice about strategic marketing, financing and pricing from a business leader well known on the high street.

Headmaster Magnus Bashaarat said, “We are delighted that Annoushka Ducas has agreed to be our Entrepreneur in Residence for the coming year.   Annoushka’s story cannot fail to inspire our budding entrepreneurs.  In addition her energy, eye for business and design together with an uncanny knack of understanding what consumers want will be hugely beneficial for any of our pupils who are considering starting their own business.”

He continues, “Our scheme is about mentoring and advice.   In my view the biggest dividend is the encouragement that the budding entrepreneurs receive; someone believes in their idea and in their ability, and they feel able to breathe life into their business.”

Milton Abbey’s first Entrepreneur in Residence was designer Anya Hindmarch and subsequent entrepreneurs who have led the scheme include Cath Kidston, Johnny Boden, David Ross and most recently Nick Wheeler, founder and CEO of Charles Tyrwhitt’s Shirts.  The Entrepreneurs in Residence deliver a keynote address to the whole school that describes their business journey, often detailing the mistakes they made, the pitfalls they fell into and the ideas that didn’t get off the ground.   Many pupils have benefited from the scheme over the past few years.  This year’s successful short listed candidates included Henry, who designed an invention to keep showers running continuously, Luchino, whose business involves importing Sicilian olive oil and Amelia (the eventual winner) who has created bespoke sponge bags from recycled fabrics.

Amelia, picture attached, said of the competition, “I am thrilled to have won the Entrepreneur in Residence competition. I started to make my wash bags last summer, the whole idea of the recycled fabrics came from my Granny’s and Mother’s old fabrics which they used for wedding dresses and curtains. I entered my idea because I thought it would be fun to improve them and also have the opportunity to sell them. It was nerve-wracking but exiting at the same time to meet Nick (Wheeler) but it was so helpful getting his ideas and thoughts about what I should do and how to improve my product. All in all it was such a great experience and I’m glad he liked my washbags!”

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship teacher, Rebecca Barton, added ‘This year’s competition saw a range of business ideas being presented by students from several year groups across the school. Amelia demonstrated enthusiasm and confidence about her winning idea from the outset and had researched her market in depth, as well as having fantastic creative skills for the designing and making of her handmade washbags. Congratulations Amelia!”