Mere months ago, Alexander Kirk was a Geography undergraduate with an interest in politics, studying in the heart of London. But this September, everything changed for the 19-year-old when he set up his own business â€“ â€˜Corbyn Jugâ€™.
Corbyn Jug is a company which sells Jeremy Corbyn shaped collectable Toby jugs, a popular British collectors’ item. Crafted in the heart of Stoke, the buyer can pay homage to the Labour leader who is attired in a black, navy or his infamous brown suit, waving a red Labour inspired flag.
For Alexander, it all started many years ago when Ed Miliband made a shock surge into the position of Labour leader in 2010.
An unassuming 12-year-old, Alexander was immediately intrigued by the politics that littered the news, and took a bold leap straight into the arena, actively showing support for the Labour Party from then on. When the revolutionary Corbyn stepped into the shoes of Labour leader in 2015, Alexander was hit with the media-dubbed â€˜Corbyn-Maniaâ€™, and tells Roar that Corbyn has â€œundoubtedly inspired a generationâ€.
â€œI was inspired to set up Corbyn Jug as it has taken my interests in politics and antiques and combined them both together,â€ he states, â€œI used to work in an antique house, back in my hometown of Lincoln where we would get character jugs of historical figures in all the time, and I thought: Why not a Corbyn Jug?â€
Alexander has received sales and orders from across the globe, and was even invited onto BBC Politics to discuss the popular jug, where he wasÂ grilled about his business.
â€œIt was an honour to be invited onto BBC Politics to speak about the project, and I was very proud,â€ Alexander tells us, â€œIt was great to be asked tough questions by the media. The producer said I did a â€˜great jobâ€™ so Iâ€™m glad Corbyn Jug got the recognition, as it has taken months to put into action.â€
With each jug painstakingly crafted through a process of firing the ceramic three times in the kiln before hand-painting and glazing, it is evident the collectible jugs are an item to be treasured. In fact, it is recommended the jug should be used as a home-dÃ©cor item. But it is still early days for Corbyn Jug after its official launch on the 19th of September. Despite this, Alexander already has ideas to expand his business. â€œThere are plans to bring out more colour-ways and limited editions so collectors can continue to collect. Theyâ€™re created in Stokeâ€“ uniquely British. Iâ€™m proud to support British businesses in this way.â€
And aside from supporting British business, Alexander will also donate 5% of his profits to the Jo Cox Foundation, set up after the murder of the British MP last year. â€œJo Cox was an incredible woman and what she stood for â€“ a fairer, kinder and more tolerant society â€“ is what we should always fight for in a liberal democracy. Iâ€™d ask anyone to support the charity as it is doing some great work.â€
But would the main man himself be proud of Corbyn Jug? Alexander thinks so. â€œI hope Jeremy would be pleased. We had people promoting it at conference [Labour] and we managed to get one to Jeremyâ€™s team. There is no word as of yet, but Iâ€™m hopeful to find out his reaction about it â€“ he definitely knows about Corbyn Jug.â€
As a young businessman, Alexander is developing skills he believes will stand him in good stead for future roles. And he encourages others to follow a similar path.
â€œJust go for it!â€ he exclaims, â€œSuccessful or not, you donâ€™t get anywhere by not doing anything. The effort speaks testament to your character and everyone appreciates someone taking their own initiative. Go for an idea youâ€™re passionate about, as if you believe in what youâ€™re setting up, youâ€™ll ultimately go further. Put yourself out there and donâ€™t give up.â€
Corbyn once stated that he was â€œan ordinary person trying to do an ordinary jobâ€. It appears Alexander is following in the leaderâ€™s footsteps. But although Corbyn Jug appears to be an ordinary, yet quirky business now, keep an eye out – Alexander Kirk may just go on to do some extraordinary things.
You can find out more about Corbyn Jug by visiting corbynjug.co.uk. Prices start from Â£32.95.
Photographs kindly provided by Alexander Kirk.