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West Suffolk College students launch online shop with sights on emulating Jeff Bezos and Amazon

In launching their own online marketplace, a group of students have set their sights on emulating Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.

West Suffolk College has this month challenged learners on its level three business and marketing diploma to set up small teams and come up with product ideas to sell on a Facebook page.

And what the students may lack in years, they have in ambition.

Holly Collins and Ben Lines are two of the students to be selling work online.
Holly Collins and Ben Lines are two of the students to be selling work online.

Ben Lines, 17, has created West Suffolk Cards and Prints for the project. He said: “I’ve always been a big fan of art so I’ve teamed up with art students at the college and will be making gift cards using their designs. If the idea takes off, I would definitely do it full time.

“When I heard I’d be setting up my own company, I thought, ‘it’s not possible, I’ll just be selling onions on Bury market’. It’s not easy, but I’m glad I’ve been given this trust and responsibility from the college. They’ve really encouraged me.”

He added: “I look up to people like Jeff Bezos. I want to be the next boss of Amazon. You have to aim high.”

Last year, a different group from West Suffolk College were set to sell their ideas to the public in Bury St Edmunds town centre. However, the plans were scuppered with the onset of the first lockdown.

Nina Hart, business lecturer, said: “Although students gained a great deal from the experience which has put us in a much better place this year. We created the idea in 2020 based on an independent market that was set up in Frome, Somerset. Essentially, students have to come up with a business idea, cost it, market it, look into the legal side of trading and then have their business ready to go ahead of a launch.”

The project, called Shop Windows, is aimed at helping students bring together everything that they have learnt over the past two years into a real life context. The students have now set up companies that include everything from vintage clothing to dog bandannas.

Holly Collins, 17, is selling natural wax melt products via a business called H and P Galore.

She said: “We realised in lockdown that everyone was gloomy so we wanted to give people a minute to take themselves away from everything and relax. I believe these relaxing products, a variation on scented candles, will help people through the hard times.

“Long term I’d like to get a place on a marketing graduate scheme, however, my business partner and I will definitely consider doing this as a weekend project on the side.”

To view the online shop, visit: https://tinyurl.com/ygof2njh

Read more: All the latest news from Bury St Edmunds

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