We were thrilled to interview Britain’s youngest author and entrepreneur Henry Patterson, aged 10. Henry set up his own business ‘Not Before Tea‘ in March 2013, and has been on an incredible journey ever since. Henry will be making an appearance at Igloo Kids in Wimbledon Village on Sunday 26th April from 2-4pm for a special book reading and question and answer session.
Tell us a bit about your business Not Before Tea, and what inspired you to open your own shop at just 9 years old?
My business is based around a book I wrote about a mouse and an owl who live in a sweet and treat shop called ‘Not Before Tea’. It got its name from the response my grandmas always gave when I asked for sweets! There are eight other characters in the book and they all feature on a range of merchandise such as bags, cards, aprons, magic doors, craft kits and wash bags. I have always been fascinated with business ever since I was 4 years’ old. I love the fact it is mine and I can build it in to what ever shape I want… just like Lego.
Your first book was published last summer. Tell us a bit about the story and the delightful characters involved – do you have a favourite?
The first book ‘Pip Gets A Job’ is about a little mouse desperately trying to make himself useful in the shop called ‘Not Before Tea’. He tries lots of things, but due to his size they don’t work out. I won’t spoil the ending but it is a happy one! I don’t really have a favourite but I do have a soft spot for Bubbles the Goldfish… He is crazy and has a great sense of humour. I like people who make me laugh.
What was it like spending time with Richard Branson, and what pearls of wisdom did he pass on to you?
It was really good. He told me it was fine not to wear a suit for meetings which was great. He said that as long as I keep enjoying my business, it will be successful. Finally he made me promise that I would not enter in to the plane, train or space industry!
Who most inspires you? Do you have any favourite super heroes, bands, or public figures?
I am inspired by anyone who is passionate about what they do. I love all the books written by David Walliams. I have a broad range of musical interests: I love Elgar if I feel like listening to classical and for pop Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran. My favourite films are Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
What‘s been your most treasured experience so far?
I have been so lucky over the past year with amazing experiences such as winning at The Great British Entrepreneur Awards, meeting Richard Branson and featuring on The One Show. I am not sure I can choose just one!
What‘s your favourite family meal?
Good old fashioned steak pie, chips and peas. I have just started baking a lot so I would make a shortbread, ice cream and strawberry sundae for pudding.
You‘ve also developed ‘The Adventure Club‘ – tell us a bit about this initiative?
It officially launches in May and is for young children (up to 8/9). It is free to join and each member gets a certificate. Then we send monthly activities such as nature trails and crafts. Members can send us photos of their artwork and we will publish these. I loved clubs when I was younger and would have loved this.
What do you enjoy doing when you‘ve not got your business hat on?
Music, baking and the choir.
You‘ve achieved so much as such a young age – what‘s in the pipeline for you next, do you have any big plans for the future?
I am just about to start my own TV programme, which is so exciting. I am also off to LA for filming and will be launching my next 2 books this summer. I also have a really lovely range of bags that will be out in May.
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
Not afraid to give things a go.