Self Belief 012: Meet the 23-year-old entrepreneur who turned his life around to open his own milkshake business
Prince Wasim has always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
As a kid seeing his hard-working parents do well, he was always looking for a way to make his own money and admits he was “that hustler kid” bringing chocolate into school to sell to his fellow pupils.
Now, the 23-year-old from Queen’s Park, north west London, is celebrating having opened his milkshake business Milk Sheikh in Harlesden Plaza in April.
But life hasn’t always been easy for Prince, who got kicked out of school and sent to a pupil referral unit and was later jailed for 14 months for driving offences aged 21 – of which he served seven.
Now sitting on a bar stool in the shop where he works seven days a week from midday to 9pm, it’s hard to imagine such a warm character who everybody waves at as they walk past, was doing time in Wandsworth Prison two years ago.
“While I was in prison I started to think a lot,” says Prince, who has a degree in International business, finance and economics.
“It was a turning point, I thought what can I do to change? I needed something that was going to make me change.”
A love of cars – and speed, as well as a bit of boredom, landed Prince, who was buying and selling cars after he finished uni, in trouble, he admits.
“I was always a young business minded person but didn’t know how to channel my energy,” he adds.
But when he found himself serving time, it took him about a week to decide he was going to channel his energy by using his sentence wisely to change his life for the better.
“Prison isn’t the best place – it is just a pause in your life,” says Prince.
“I started reading a lot of books including the entrepreneurial stories of Sir Alan Sugar and Richard Branson as well as books to do with how the mind works and how to think if you want to be successful. I wanted to start to do something positive.”
After spending his time in prison reading, and believing he too could be as successful as Sugar and Branson, Prince was released at the end of 2014.
And he decided he wanted to run a business that could help young people also channel their energy in a positive way.
“I feel right now milkshakes are a trend,” says Prince. “The milkshake business is booming and young people love it so if you want to engage with young people you’ve got to speak their language.”
The young entrepreneur then spent his time looking for a shop in Harlesden as he spotted a gap in the market.
“There was something in me I wasn’t going to stop until I did it,” he says. “If I did it and it didn’t work I would rather that than sitting around my whole life wondering about it.”
He also did in-depth research and came up with his business name Milk Sheikh before giving the shop he found a complete revamp.
“Growing up, we never had anything like this in Harlesden,” says Prince. “We need more young business women and men. Crime is going up these days so I think we need more young people focused on becoming successful.”
Now Prince says, there’s a big rush of trade when the young people come out of school. Many of them want to chat to him and ask his advice on business ideas.
Asked how it feels to have made such a success, Prince says: “It feels good, it shows if you put your head down and stay strong you can achieve whatever you want to achieve.” And that’s some of the advice he gives young people.
“If Richard Branson and all them guys can do it, so can I and so can the young people,” he adds.
Now, Prince has set his sights on building his brand. He says: “I want young people to feel a part of it and connect with it. I want them to look at it and think ‘he’s someone who has come from where we come from’.”
He hopes to expand his shops into other parts of London including Edgware Road and East London and has even set his sights on Harrods department store. He also wants to do youth work through the brand in the future.
And he has no regrets about his time in prison.
“I feel as though if it wasn’t for that time in prison I wouldn’t be where I am now,” he says. “Sometimes in life you have to have a setback to take three steps forward.
“If you are someone in prison or going through a major court case, let it be your last. Don’t waste the time, find yourself and get your mentality and mind right.
“Put your pen to paper and you can achieve your dreams.”