SUCCESS IN A NUTSHELL
Being one of the youngest ever finalists on Alan Sugar’s The Apprentice has shown that age is no barrier to success. Gail Bailey catches up with Camilla Ainsworth to find out more about her experience on the show
If something doesn’t exist, create it!” is Camilla Ainsworth’s philosophy when it comes to business. Lancashire born and bred, and a former pupil of Westholme School, Camilla is no stranger to forming business ideas and has had an entrepreneurial spirit since a young age. “I set up my first business Happy Chickens Lay Happy Eggs when I was 12, selling free range eggs from our own hens, and at 16 I sold bulbs to neighbours that I’d planted and cultivated myself,” recalls Camilla.
Even though she studied Law at Manchester University, having her own business has always been Camilla’s main ambition.
Whilst being an advocate of a healthy lifestyle and trying to avoid dairy based products, it was whilst she was travelling in Australia and working on a dairy farm that Camilla was diagnosed as lactose intolerant. But as she then struggled to find a dairy-free alternative that didn’t contain sugar or additives, in true Camilla style she decided to experiment with a series of different nuts and ended up making her own brand – MylkPlus.
“I started with just £30 worth of nuts experimenting in the kitchen, created an Instagram account of what I was doing and it all took off from there. People were really interested in my product and wanted to buy it!”
As her business grew and she needed to think about investment and funding Camilla became more curious about applying for BBC 1’s The Apprentice: “I’d always loved the show and knew that aside from the prospect of funding, I could also learn a lot about business from Lord Sugar and his associates.”
On New Year’s Day 2018 Camilla and her family had a flip chart on which they wrote their New Year resolutions and hers was to appear on The Apprentice, so without any hesitation she set about applying: “The process was tough and from 70,000 applicants I was so pleased to make it to the final 16!”
Camilla had to go through five stages including an interview with one of Lord Sugar’s advisers about her business idea.
“I’ve always admired Alan Sugar as he is just the most incredible business tycoon. His autobiography What You See Is What You Get, really catapulted me into wanting my own business corporation,” says Camilla.
Whilst Lord Sugar’s boardroom is as tough as it looks on-screen, Camilla is quick to point out that all the contestants are mature enough to leave all the battling and criticisms of each other in the room: “It’s not personal – there is a lot of money at stake so we all knew we had to fight our hardest for it.”
However, Camilla feels that coming second may in reality be the best thing for her business.
She explains: “The Apprentice has given me a platform, but I have also retained 100 per cent of my Mylk Plus Company, which along with all the experience I have gained is an added bonus.”
This is true, given that already The Apprentice finalist has struck a deal with health food giant Holland and Barrett to launch her gourmet vegan nut milk brand. The USP of the brand is the ‘grab and go’ nature that Camilla thought was missing from other dairy alternative brands, along with the higher nut content and gourmet flavours.
The ‘mylk’ is dairy-free and made without refined sugar, stabilisers or emulsifiers: “Salted Honeycomb Hazelnut Mylk will soon be on the shelves in Holland and Barrett, which is made with hazelnuts blended with filtered spring water and fortified with vitamin D and calcium. Other new flavours and exciting new products are also ready to be launched in 2019,” says Camilla.
As her products are already available via other independent retailers and direct from her website by mail order, the future really does look good for this bright, young entrepreneur. “People should never be underestimated or judged by their age,” says Camilla. “It really is no barrier to success.”
As we part company I ask Camilla if she has any advice for others wanting to try their hand at getting onto The Apprentice: “Be gregarious but don’t act up for the cameras. You need to be able to get along with people but make sure you are prepared to fight for your place!”
Wise words from an inspirational young woman who has created a product that is on target with current healthy lifestyle choices, and who is already making her mark in the world of business, both on screen, and on the shelves.