Interviewer: It’s a pleasure to have with me in the studio today the successful young businessman, Douglas Grainger. Douglas, tell us how you got started in business at the early age of 14.
Douglas: It all began one afternoon when I was only in my second year at secondary school. My grandmother taught me how to make jam with her secret recipes. She had a lot of fruit to make into jams and couldn’t manage the task all on her own, so she persuaded me to be her kitchen boy.  I found I loved making jams so I carried on doing it in the kitchen at home and selling it to the neighbours and at school fairs and farmers’ markets and later to local delicatessens. It just sort of grew and grew by word of mouth over a few years while I was still at school.
Interviewer: So it quickly became a business?
Douglas: That’s right! By the time I left school, I was working all day every day in my parents’ kitchen. At one point I was manufacturing about 1,000 jars a week. I’d realised I’d have to come up with some sort of big idea in order to move production into a commercial setting. After doing a lot of research, I discovered hat sales of jam, generally, have actually been in decline for the last couple of decades. That’s unfortunately because jam has a rather old fashioned image. So I decided to set myself the ambition of changing that stereotype by trying to come up with a way to make jam more appealing to a younger audience. 
Interviewer: Hm, how is your product different from those made by your competitors?
Douglas: I developed a set of recipes where the jams are made entirely from fruits and fruit juice. They don’t use anything artificial. Even the sugar in them is just what comes from the fruit itself.  I decided to call the jam ‘Super Jam’ because the fruits that I use are very healthy fruits like blueberries and cranberries. This gives the jam a very distinctive and interesting quality. After a year of development, I managed to convince an ad agency to work with me on labels and a factory to work with me to produce the jam. Some of the big supermarkets decided to take it on and I now supply about 500 shops including one of the largest retailers in the world. It’s been a whirlwind journey and it’s continuing to grow and grow very day.
Interviewer: Was your age an issue that you had to overcome?
Douglas: Definitely. Trying to convince one of the biggest jam manufacturers in the country to work with me to produce the jam was certainly difficult, I knocked on lots of different doors but all had was an original idea – no money or capital or anything like that. A lot of the doors were slammed in my face. But eventually I managed to convince the management of one factory to work with me. They could see I was ready to put everything I had into trying to make this work and felt they might as well give it a shot.  So, they diversified and were quickly very glad they did.
Interviewer: Did you have a business mentor?
Douglas: Not at first, but then a local entrepreneur read about what I was doing in the evening paper and the thought that I reminded him of himself at my age. He got in touch and we now go out for coffee every month and I tell him what I’m trying to do.  He explains things to me and it’s fantastic! He’s helped me enormously and I’d say we’re really good friends now.
Interviewer: I guess your company had already taken off by the time you started university?
Douglas: I started my Uni course not really knowing whether the business was really going to be successful. So midway through my first year, the products launched and I found myself going on TV and flying all over the place. It just completely took off and it was amazing for all the other students to see it happen. After my first year, I started struggling with running the business and going to university every day, so they said I could take a couple of years off and wait until everything calmed down a little bit.  I could get myself organised and go back whenever I felt ready. I’m pretty lucky in that respect.
I’ve been doing it for years. I’m an actor by profession and of course I have long periods when I’m not on stage and don’t have anything much else to do, so that’s when I really do a lot of it. I’m still not that expert at it — I don’t think I’d ever win any prizes or anything like that and I’ve no aspirations to become professional — but I find it very satisfying when I attempt something different and it seems to work.  I like adding my own personal touches – an unusual herb here, an unexpected combination of flavours. Appearance is important to me too – my roommate’s even been known to take a photo something of I’ve served up. 
My earliest memory is of seeing my dad on stage with his huge trombone, so I suppose it’s not that surprising that my brothers and sisters and I all grew up more enthusiastic about music than sport. My brothers have formed a pop group that actually won a ‘Best Newcomers’ prize for their first album last year – you must have seen their photo in the papers — but I soon realised that it was the combination of movement and rhythm that I loved.  I go to the Studio after college every day and it’s my dream to actually be able to do it for a living, though I appreciate it’s a very competitive field. 
A friend first got me enthusiastic about playing. That friend was much better at it than I am — he even won a few trophies when we were teenagers. Oddly enough he’s completely lost interest now while I’m quite the reverse. I seem to spend more time at it each year.  I fell fell and and broke my shoulder bone in in one match last year but it even that hasn’t put me off. I just love the excitement and the speed of movement on skates.  My mum says she wishes I’d taken up what she calls a nice civilised sport like table tennis, say, or golf, but I’ve every intention of keeping going as long as they’ll have me in a team!
I’d never want to do it professionally — that’s far too risky a business — but it’s a great hobby! I feel I’ve learnt so much over the last few months and have become much more expert at what I can do and that’s given me huge satisfaction.  I’m involved now in a production about a famous dancer who had a very tempestuous private life. I’m playing one of the leads and getting to grips with that has been quite a challenge!  All the other people in the show are enthusiastic and determined to make it a success. That can make tempers run high at times, of course! Anyway, it’s a brilliant contrast to my day job in a busy restaurant.
Sometimes I feel I spend more time at this than at work, I certainly feel more enthusiastic about it. You might imagine it’s the sense of achievement when you’re doing well that’s so attractive but that’s not really it as far as I’m concerned. It’s more a matter of the team thing, you know the feeling of all being in it together, both when you succeed and when you don’t.  That’s made us all very close. We’ve performed at a number of local clubs and colleges and are beginning to make quite a name for ourselves. Our latest song’s on the Internet and it’s already had an amazing number of views.  It’s all very exciting!
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