Old Monktonian and successful local entrepreneur comes full circle

Old Monktonian and successful local entrepreneur comes full circle
OM Club Whole School

This week we welcomed back Old Monktonian, April Collins, the founder of The Leafy Tea Company, who are now the tea supplier for our new 1907 Café.

April showed fantastic entrepreneurship and dedication to set up the company whilst studying for her GCSEs at Monkton in 2016 and since she left in 2018 things have gone from strength-to-strength.

Becoming a supplier for Monkton has brought things full circle and April was delighted to give us an interview about the journey she has been on and that has led her back to the School.

When did you attend Monkton?

I joined Monkton Pre-Prep in 2006 in Year 2 and went all the way through until the end of Sixth Form in 2018.  

How was your Monkton experience and what did you enjoy most about your time at the School?

I was at Monkton for 12 years and essentially grew up there. Both the school and I changed a lot over that time and when I reflect back on my time there I see myself growing in confidence year by year, aided by the teachers and the safe environment that epitomises Monkton even today.

One of my favourite memories is learning to sail in CCF. There are a lot of very funny memories from trying to sink other sailing boats at Chew Valley Lake to the summer camps at HMS Raleigh where we worked very hard not to hit the Ribs the Marines were on! 

Can you explain how you started your business whilst still at the school and whether the school offered you any support with this?

I started The Leafy Tea Company in 2016 during Year 11 - not the ideal time as I was coming up to GCSEs!

However, I wanted to know where to focus my energies - exams and grades are of course really important, but I always had a feeling that university would not be the route that I was going to take and so it made sense to figure that out while I had the support of my school and had a safety net in case it did go wrong. Why wait until after A-Levels and an apprenticeship/university to see if I actually could run a business?

Monkton was invaluable in those early years, they gave me time off when I had meetings or shows, such as the Bath Christmas Market, and they recognised that I was just starting my career a little early. Without that support I doubt the business would look the same today. 

What has the company journey been since you left in 2018?

I look over the past seven years extremely fondly. It's still crazy to me that what started as a brainstorming of company names in Nutfield House is the strong business I see before me today. 

It hasn't been without its difficulties; Covid was a harsh time. We are a hospitality based company, mainly serving the catering side of hotels, cafes, spas etc and so when lockdown hit around 90% of my business disappeared overnight. It was tough and we had to rapidly turn our focus to e-commerce, researching into Facebook and Google Ads to drive traffic and stay afloat. 

We are lucky to have a loyal base of people who love our blends. They kept us going during covid by buying on-line and we were fortunate to be able to pick up where we left off once the lockdowns finished although it still feels like we lost two years! 

Thankfully, those scary times seem to be behind us and we're now moving towards Christmas which is always hectic and we have new plans for the 2023 summer season with an iced canned product in the works (shh!)

How pleased are you to be coming full circle and now being a supplier to Monkton?

Being a supplier to Monkton does give me a chuckle, it really does feel like I've done a big loop, but the connection to Monkton never really goes away.

I made lifelong friends during my years there and I think at the time we would all say that it was just 'school' but looking back, we can all recognise that it was and continues to be, a special part of the world and how lucky we were to have been educated and grown up in the valley - or for some of us - worked our way down the hill from Pre-Prep to the Senior school. 

I can't wait to continue this story by brewing up some exciting ideas with the Monkton community.

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