Kirsty Henshaw - The Dragon's Den mum from Preston
PUBLISHED: 08:37 15 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:41 21 October 2015
Preston mum Kirsty Henshaw showed television viewers how to tame a dragon with frozen deserts, as Paul Mackenzie reports
They’re the fiercest people on television but a young mum from Preston had them eating out of her hand. Kirsty Henshaw tamed the dreaded dragons with her warmth, wit and determination to succeed for her little boy.
Just a year ago Kirsty was making the desserts for her young son Jacob in the tiny kitchen of her terrace house in Preston but after she secured £65,000 from Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne, her range of allergen free frozen desserts will go on sale this month in superstores across the country.
Jacob, now four-and-a-half, was born with a life threatening nut allergy and is intolerant to cows’ milk and lactose, meaning Kirsty had to read the ingredients list for everything he ate very carefully and that certain foods were off the menu for him.
Kirsty, now 24, had dropped out of her sports therapy course at university after failing her first year and didn’t know which way to turn.
‘I didn’t know what to do,’ said Kirsty, whose parents own a health food shop in Penwortham.
‘I talked to my dad about Jacob and bought an ice cream maker from Argos to try to make a version of it he could eat.
‘It wasn’t particularly nice at first but after a few months started to taste really nice. Making ice cream is more technical than you think. I read a lot on the internet and spoke to people and it gradually improved. Jacob was eating it and I tried some on some of my neighbours and people were encouraging.
‘I had nothing else to do. I was at that point where it could be a really good move or complete rubbish but I had to give it a go. ‘I spoke to
Wallings at Cockerham and they said they’d make it for me because
I could only make a litre at a time.
‘The first trial went very well and it got better each time we tweaked something.’
Last December Kirsty began to supply a health food wholesaler with her allergen free desserts which are all free from dairy, added sugar, gluten, cholesterol, artificial flavours and artificial preservatives.
She was then invited to a meeting with a buyer for Tesco who asked if she had the capacity to make enough for their stores and when she said she hadn’t she decided to apply for Dragons’ Den.
And despite all the hours of preparation she put in for facing the panel, she wasn’t ready for their surprise weapon - being nice.
‘I thought it had to be more mainstream than just being for my child and I didn’t think they would rip me apart because I know everything there is to know about my business and what I want for it, but I wasn’t prepared for them being so nice to me. That was a very strange experience.
‘I was in there well over an hour, but I spent about 20 minutes crying. I got really upset and just wanted to go but they were unbelievably nice. Theo gave me a hug and told me I was doing well.’
If she was doing well then, she’s been doing brilliantly ever since.
‘When two dragons invest, one of them leads and Peter Jones is leading my investment,’ Kirsty added. ‘We talk a lot and get on really well. We have been to all the major retailers and we’re re-launching this month. It will be called Freedom and it will be in all the major supermarkets.
‘It’s strange for me not to be doing everything - I’ve always been in control of things up to now. It’s great because now I can hand over some of the hard work but it is amazing to have people doing things for me. I will do as much as I need to do in the future.’
Kirsty watched her appearance on Dragons’ Den at BAC in Preston, where she still works part time behind the bar. ‘Jacob finds it very strange to see me on the television, as do I.’
But it is something they will probably both have to get used to - Kirsty is already planning her next move, frozen yogurts and ready meals.