Funky role model who encourages kids to be different

Furniture Designer. When he started out, Finn Stone's family, friends and teachers all poured cold water on the north London school-leaver's plans to become a designer. The prospects looked bleak as his grades were only enough to secure a place on an HND course in ceramics at a provincial polytechnic. But 10 years later, with shows in New York and London and a contract to manufacture colourful polyethylene ball chairs for Conran shops, Stone is well on the way to international acclaim. His greatest satisfaction is in challenging pupils to succeed. "I'm a different sort of role model from the teacher in his tweed jacket. I go in funky and down to earth - wearing designer labels and trainers.

"To be honest, kids are more interested in their mobile phones than in business. But I throw their questions back at them. I ask them, 'Why are you doing what you're doing?' 'What are you good at?' and 'Do you know what you really want to do?' I encourage kids to be different. If you try to be original, then people put brick walls in your way. It comes down to finding out who you are. Nothing's impossible!"

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