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From Rags to Riches - 2022 Pay Your Way Awards Winner

My self-funding journey began in April 2022 in preparation for an expedition to Morocco in July 2023.

I decided to approach with a brainstorm for ideas and looked at what was important to me, what I am good at, and what would give me inspiration, satisfaction and success.

My keywords are : community, environment, charity, recycle initiative, maths, collaborate and enterprise.

I have previously been volunteering at a local charity where I sort books and weigh rag in the school holidays. I had no idea that not everything donated is sold in the charity shops. Well used, old or unsold goods are ragged to raise extra funds. These ragged materials are shredded and recycled. I learnt the current amount 1kg generates is just 45p.

This really surprised me that so many clothes and shoes were not being fully used before going to the rag trade and still had more potential value.

I was inspired and emailed the manager to ask if I could take ragbags to car boot sales during the summer holidays. He agreed and I successfully raised £200 on my first trip with the help of Mum and Dad. Half of this amount was agreed with the retail manager to go to the local charity and the other half raised went towards my expedition fund.

My maths worked out that we over doubled what the charity would have generated had they sold these goods as rag. I benefited by raising £100 on my first attempt for my expedition.

I have now completed my fourth car boot and raised £680 in total, half of which has gone to our local charity.

Approximately 40x 8kg rag bags (320kg!) have been sold and reused. The charity would have received £144 from rag, but I have raised £340 instead which was a great achievement from my idea.

The highlight was being able to give our hospice charity their profit. It is really satisfying and rewarding to know I am helping the community as well as my personal gain.

Alfie Howell

My initial challenges were definitely my self-confidence and communication with customers. At car boot sales it’s very busy and everyone wants to haggle. I quickly learnt to negotiate and have fun with this and not be disheartened if I didn’t sell for what I had hoped for.

I will now be good at bartering in the Moroccan souk!

Although this is an independent idea, I really want to share my success story as it’s a very easy business model to replicate. I do not really have art skills to make and sell as others are doing, so this is a great plan for me.

I hope that it inspires others to suggest it to their local charities too and I am encouraging my fellow team members at school to get involved.

Feedback from the charity is very positive and I am hoping to see the progression of the building of the new hospice which began being built in February this year. I enclose an email from the head of retail thanking me for my efforts in my video for you to read.

I also have heard that I spread awareness of the appeal and one car boot lady actually came to donate all her unsold goods to the charity which she did not previously know about.

To grow my idea from being seasonal, I hope to continue in winter at indoor sales and possibly hold a jumble sale or sell surplus Christmas decorations at winter fairs.

I think I have the basics for a great way to generate funds for my expedition. I’m learning at this early stage how to improve and better my sales by noticing what sells well and what people want. This is called supply and demand.

I hope to raise around a third of my payments using this initiative.

Written by
Alfie Howell, aged 14