Name Cordell Jeffers
Occupation Entrepreneur, motivational speaker and Prince’s Trust ambassador, Birmingham
I had a rocky start to life. My mum brought me up as a single parent. School was a negative experience – I felt like being creative but the system didn’t allow me to. I was disruptive and challenged teachers in lessons.
At 14 I was kicked out of school. My mum thought it might help if we lived in the Caribbean, where my grandparents lived. It turned out to be a good experience for me: I returned to school and I was more disciplined.
It was a kick up the backside to see a different culture. A lot of the kids there have nothing but make the most of their resources. I didn’t end up getting any GCSEs, but I did return to the UK after 12 months and applied to study a BTec media production course at college before successfully retaking my English and maths GCSEs.
When I returned to the UK I lived with my auntie in inner-city Birmingham. Living there meant I really had to focus and avoid getting into trouble. Around the same time, a college tutor spoke to me after class one evening and said he felt I had potential and told me not to waste it. He was one of the first teachers to believe in me. He gave me a self-development book that explored business and entrepreneurship. From there I started reading all sorts of self-development books and watching inspiring speakers.
I ended up studying business and marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University. At the same time I started buying and selling things such as hair straighteners and Ugg boots online. I realised I could stay out of trouble and make money, and it made me determined to start my own business.
About three years ago I received a grant of £2,000 and business support from the Prince’s Trust to help me set up a sportswear business called Mungo Sports alongside my business partner and girlfriend, Sharona. As well as selling sportswear, part of the business involves visiting schools and running workshops on creative design and how to start your own clothing brand. I also run We Shine Together, a social enterprise that provides accredited training programmes to help people from disadvantaged communities gain qualifications. We also set up fundraising campaigns to help send children to school in Nepal, Zimbabwe and India.
I’m also a motivational speaker and regularly share my story at events such as Black History Month and speak at schools and colleges around Birmingham. I often receive £200 to talk for an hour. I speak at about two gigs a month.
My income from all of these different strands comes to about £30,000 a year.
I rent a two-bedroom apartment with my partner, which sets us back £650 a month. Over the past year we’ve been saving for a house and have put aside about £1,000 a month between us. We’re about ready to buy now, and are looking for a property on the outskirts of Birmingham. I think getting on the property ladder is important. Financial management wasn’t a big thing in the kind of community I’m from. But I want to invest in myself and my future. Rent is dead money but property is a good asset to have. I’ve had to be disciplined, though: I’ve not been able to spend a lot on clothes, and I’ve had to scale back on going out for drinks with my friends.
I do like to go on holiday once a year – we’re off to Cyprus next week. Last year we visited Dubai. We usually spend about £800 each on the holiday plus spending money.
I also like to invest in myself. I regularly buy self-development books and go on courses – for example, I recently spent £150 on a public speaking course.
I feel like I’ve massively turned around my life. But I’ve always believed in myself. Even though I was kicked out of school, I knew what I wanted in life. I always had that kind of grit and determination in me.