Advent of the week-long birthday

GCSE project turns into 18-year-old’s business start-up with family help


Stretching birthday celebrations to at least a week is the idea behind 18-year-old entrepreneur Anna Staal’s business venture that’s grown out of her GCSE studies.

And, with her family’s backing, she’s run with the idea that “advent calendars aren’t only for Christmas” having already sold over 10,000 personalised birthday gift advents through her internet start-up SevenYays.

Above: SevenYays is a family affair with Charlotte, Andrew, Natalie and Anna
Above: SevenYays is a family affair with Charlotte, Andrew, Natalie and Anna

Working on her GCSE business studies project during lockdown, then 16-year-old Anna had to come up with a project: “I thought an advent-style gift calendar for birthdays would be something that many people would enjoy and make a great and unique present to buy and gift to others – I’ve always enjoyed Christmas advent calendars, particularly the anticipation of the daily surprise and the extension of Christmas Day into a 24-day event.”

With the extra time on their hands thanks to the pandemic restrictions, Anna’s parents Charlotte and Andrew, and younger sister Natalie, all got involved with the project from their Manchester home, conducting market research, sourcing gifts from independent UK businesses, designing packaging and setting up their website.

Above: Some of the 25 pre-curated advent boxes
Above: Some of the 25 pre-curated advent boxes

“We’re all about helping people extend their loved ones’ special days into a week-long event, hence the name SevenYays,” explained Charlotte. “The majority of our customers buy for a birthday countdown gift, but we see plenty of anniversaries, Valentine’s or Mother’s Day boxes or people wanting to gift someone a week of joy and surprises just to bring a smile to their face.”

On the website customers can create their own countdown box by selecting seven gifts from the range of 400, or choose a pre-curated ready-made box ranging from £35 to £40, pick the box design and greeting card then add a message. Packaging is sustainably sourced in the UK from renewable and recycled materials and is 100% recyclable, with each calendar made to order and hand-assembled by the Staal family and their small team.

Above: There are 400 gifts to choose from, plus greeting cards
Above: There are 400 gifts to choose from, plus greeting cards

Anna added: “We help our supply partners – other independent fab British businesses – get their amazing products into new consumers hands by including them in our boxes. Gifts are ethically sourced and include craft gins, natural soy candles, artisan chocs, scrumptious sweeties, snuggly bamboo socks, award-winning vegan beauty products, cross stitch and craft kits, and cute keepsakes.”

Top: Young Anna Staal’s SevenYays idea extends the birthday fun

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