A 16-year-old girl who was kicked out of school last year has opened her own shop selling e-cigarettes.

Lily Harvey, from Sacriston, near Durham, is not old enough to buy the product but decided to open the shop after working in a factory producing them after leaving school.

She was told to leave St Leonard’s School, in Durham, in January after failing to comply with their policy on wearing earrings.

Loading article content

After starting a job at an e-cigarette factory in Belmont, the teenager decided to start save her earnings so she could open her own business.

Lily, who is a keen rider, has also been saving up from her job working as a stable hand at a nearby riding centre.

She said: “I like saving up money. It’s like an addiction but it’s a good sort of addiction.

“I dropped out of school in January and I went straight into work and had the idea that I wanted my own shop.

“I was working in a local factory for e-cigarettes so that’s where the idea came from because I’ve got a bit of knowledge to start with and I saw there was an opportunity.

“I knew the shop had been closed down for a while so I called about getting a lease.”

She added: “It’s been going well so far so hopefully it will work.

“At least I can say I tried.”

The shop in Front Street, which used to be a tattoo shop, opened just over three weeks ago.

Because she is not old enough to buy the e-cigarettes herself, the stock for the shop has to be bought through her parents.

Her dad Sam, an electrician who also runs an e-cigarette shop, said: “She’s done everything herself. The hardest thing was getting the bank to give her a business account but she’s got a hobby account instead.

“She’s got about 80 people off smoking already. We’re really proud of her. It’s good to see her standing on her own two feet.

“She doesn’t just want to make money, she’s got a real drive and she wants to get people off smoking as well.”

Lily is due to start studying at Houghall College on Monday, where she will be doing a qualification in horse care and stable management.

She is planning to juggle her college work with being in the shop until 7pm each night and at the weekends and as soon as she as generated enough turnover hopes to employ someone to work there.

Her mum Michelle added: “She wants to try and make something of her life which I think is a good thing.

“I don’t know of many 16-year-olds that have their own shops.”