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Teen Entrepreneurs Shortlisted For Sheffield Business Awards

Updated: 19/10/2016

A former Sheffield College student and his business partner have been shortlisted for Young Business People of the Year in the Sheffield Business Awards.

Teen Entrepreneurs Shortlisted For Sheffield Business Awards

Pictured: Tom Houseman and former Sheffield College student Jack Crofts, both aged 18, of Vicuña Royale

Jack Crofts and Tom Houseman, both aged 18, have founded a high end fashion business, Vicuña Royale. 

Their exclusive brand is believed to be the first of its kind, specialising in products made from vicuña fibre - the world’s finest natural animal fibre.

Jack said: “It’s an honour to be a finalist for this award and to be recognised as one of the top young entrepreneurs in Sheffield. I’m proud to be from Sheffield, so it means a lot for my city to recognise me in this way.”

He continued: “I’ve always loved business, so it really does feel amazing for a company I am so passionate about to be doing so well. We’ve faced many challenges along our journey, but we have always overcome the hurdles and made Vicuña Royale what it is today. Who knows what we will have achieved this time next year.”

Jack and Tom have sourced suppliers in Peru, as well as manufacturers in the UK, who then spin and knit the fibre into bespoke garments. With their individually tailored scarves costing around £6,000 each, their business is targeted at the high end luxury market, a hard market to break into.

Jack, a former Stocksbridge High School and Sheffield College Peter Jones Enterprise Academy student, has just begun a business and enterprise management course at Sheffield Hallam University.

Tom, who joined Vicuña Royale shortly after Jack founded the brand, said: “Joining Vicuña Royale was an opportunity of a lifetime for me and I love what Jack and I have built. It’s such a good feeling for something we’ve worked so hard on to get recognition like this- it’s reassuring when others see what an amazing business we are.”

Tom has recently moved to London, where he is studying enterprise and innovation at the University of Greenwich. He’s spending his time between Sheffield and London so that he can liaise with clients, most of whom are situated in the City.

Harry Gration MBE, the BBC Look North anchor, will be hosting the awards evening. Speaking to event organisers about the evening here, he said he is “so thrilled to be hosting the Sheffield Business Awards to celebrate everything that is good about business - in this great City."

He commented: "I love Sheffield and get so upset when people accuse us of being Leeds centric. For me this place is the best and its folk the friendliest in the country.”

Jack and Tom are shortlisted alongside Ben Abraham of Merlinsoft Ltd; Lucy Arnold of Bag It Don’t Bin It Ltd and Hannah Duraid of The Great Escape Game. 

The winners will be announced early in December, at the annual Sheffield Business Awards, taking place at Ponds Forge.  To find out more about Vicuña Royale, visit www.vicunaroyale.com.